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Brittle Noem Commits Unforced Error, Boosts Cred of Howard and Security-Cost-Transparency Bill

Governor Kristi Noem’s attack on Representative Taffy Howard over Howard’s open-records legislation reminds me of another instance where Noem’s brittleness and arrogance drew her into another unforced error of petty retribution against another gal named Howard.

In 2019, the Governor’s Office pressured Girls State officials to expel Sioux Falls Roosevelt student Madison Howard. The Governor’s Office pushed for this punishment after Madison Howard posted a photo online of the Governor visiting Girls State while Madison held a coffee mug advocating impeachment of Noem’s party leader in the frame.

Madison Howard snapped and shared a similar impeachment-mug shot earlier that school year of Senator John Thune. Senator Thune apparently didn’t feel the photo warranted any response. Madison’s photo was not threatening or personally insulting. It certainly didn’t affect any elected official’s ability to get up and go to work.

But Governor Noem used her power to punish harmless and legal speech in a way that only brought more attention to that speech and to Noem’s thin skin.

Turn now to the debacle Noem has created over Representative Taffy Howard and House Bill 1089, the proposal to make the cost of security for the Governor and all other public officials public record. Representative Howard is one of those headstrong Rapid City legislators who is more consistently and radically right-wing than Kristi Noem or any of the establishment opportunists in charge of the South Dakota GOP.

Representative Howard is playing a game we’ve seen from other Black Hills mugwumps: They introduce bills that tweak the SDGOP establishment by actually holding the SDGOP to their stated principles (in this case, the commitment to transparency and fiscal responsibility). These bills from the Black Hills mugwump caucus give the sponsors their day or two of fun, allow us Democrats to join in with our chuckles, and then suffer swift death at the hands of the gubernatorially-cowed mainstream GOP majority. The mugwump bills never pass. They never hurt anyone. And most importantly for those playing real Pierre politics, they never stop the Governor’s primary budget and policy priorities from advancing through the Legislature, they never take any real power away from the Executive Branch, and they never cost the Governor reëlection. Nothing about these mugwump bills warrants the expenditure of one iota of political capital by the Governor.

Even if the Rapid City mugwumps could cobble together a bill that could survive floor votes and really step on the Governor’s toes, the Governor wouldn’t have to launch a mass-texting campaign to quash it; she could just flick her veto pen, and, as Bob Mercer reminds us at the very bottom of his story on the Noem/Howard tiff, that veto would likely stand. Then Noem would be free to pour $100K into sponsors’ primary opponents’ coffers in 2022, and that’s the last we’d see of them in Pierre

But in this instance, faced with a bill that draws attention to her lavish out-of-state travel and use of state troopers to serve as personal bodyguards on political campaign trips, Governor Noem launches an open attack on Representative Howard and her bill co-sponsors. That attack is as gratuitous, petty, and counterproductive as her attack two years ago on Girls Stater Madison Howard. Attacking Howard only amplifies the House Bill 1089 itself, which would have gone mostly unnoticed in the press amidst the hoo-hah about South Dakota’s continued culture war and fetus fetish and would have been killed quietly in committee but now gets front-page play. Noem’s unforced error gives Representative Howard a statewide spotlight in which she sounds less like a radical mugwump going off topic and more like a sober Joan Callamezzo making the very sensible point that, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, she kinda-sorta has to know how much the Governor is spending on security so she can appropriate the appropriate funds. The press contrasts those sober policy pronouncements with Noem’s non-responses that lay bare her fickle commitment to her campaign pledge of transparency.

Noem made a fuss that she didn’t need to make. Because of that fuss, Howard’s bill and Howard herself look good and Noem looks bad.

Any rational propaganda team would have seen that attacking Howard and this sure-to-die bill had no upside and would have kaboshed any thought of unleashing the hounds of text-war. But brittle Team Kristi can’t take the slightest slight. Kristi Noem will attack people who don’t need to be attacked—acerbic high school students, fellow Republicans with doomed bills, New York reporters—and make herself look arrogant and petty.

That brittleness may be Kristi Noem’s downfall, especially if smart primary opponents know how to exploit that Achilles heel in 2022 or 2024.


  1. owen 2021-01-30 10:38

    The amount of money must be pretty high for Noem to do this. Of course if somebody (Fury) did this without Noem knowing means she can’t control her people.

  2. grudznick 2021-01-30 10:43

    Do we know that Governor Noem launched this hard to home hitting miss once pointing out how Ms. Taffy and Mr. Reynold are usually in lock step? It is known Ms. Taffy looks to Mr. Reynold for guidance on how to vote.

  3. John 2021-01-30 11:18

    Isn’t the mass text a campaign expense? Who paid for it? How much was spent?

    Can we do a complaint somehow?

    What number did the text come from? or what company did it?

    I agree with Cory–Noem’s thin skin has amplified it. She MUST HAVE used state funds or you would just say the campaign paid for it.

  4. Alan F 2021-01-30 12:04

    Right out of trump’s petty paranoid playbook.

  5. Detroit Lewis 2021-01-30 13:54

    Did you know in SD you can only have an abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy? Interestingly enough, you can’t reliably test for Down Syndrome until after 13 weeks. So is the bill moot? or is it a way to stop all abortions in South Dakota? Or is it a way for Kristi to have talking points even though the state has voted Pro-Choice twice? Or really, is this a way for the taxpayers of SD to fund a court challenge to Roe V Wade? I’m hoping the new Democratic Congress, Senate and Presidency gets off their butts and finally mandates Abortion federally legal.

  6. mike from iowa 2021-01-30 14:08

    Detroit Lewis, welcome to DFP. I can’t see Dems getting any Roe v Wade protection through 5 of the 6 activist wingnuts on the SCOTUS. This is such a simple issue. Don’t want to have an abortion? Don’t have one and stop lying about the side that protects women’s rights.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-01-30 16:11

    You know this brittleness must be a pub governor thing. Bill Janklow went after a critical college student to see if his college loans were validly obtained. The ponygirl seems no different, they drive in the same way too, according to all her tickets, thats why she hasn’t gone after her own AG, its only a matter of time.

  8. 96Tears 2021-01-30 16:15

    COVID Kristi’s is a clever little liar, but she’s losing the Trump Endorsement for President Sweepstakes to Georgia’s Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene!

    Breaking arms to shoo Republicans off the Noem for 2024 President Campaign Expenses bill ain’t nuthin’ compared to lil’ Marjie’s whoppers in only the last month. Among her claims, Trump didn’t incite the riot in the U.S. Capitol, saying as “proof” that “the timeline doesn’t fit the narrative.” And there’s “so I’m not sure where your white supremacy bs is coming from” because she said all the victims at the capitol were white.

    Marjie’s made several recent claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that Trump won, including this nugget: “202,377 more votes cast than voters voting in Pennsylvania! This is called election fraud.” And this one: “There was MASS voter fraud on a scale that should terrify every American regardless of political party.” Oh yeah, and she says the Senate race in Georgia was also fixed by the Republican Secretary of State: “Georgia state leaders refused to listen to Georgia tax payers. They refused to change anything after allowing @realDonaldTrump’s election to be stolen. And they refused to #StopTheSteaI with our two senate seats.”

    Marjie’s string of lies and whacko statements go back to claiming a plane never struck the Pentagon on 9/11, Obama was a secret Muslim, Nancy Pelosi should be assassinated, JFK Jr.’s plane crash was faked because he had been secretly assassinated to prevent him from running for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton, characterizing the 2018 election which resulted in two Muslim women being elected to Congress as “an Islamic invasion of our government,” all those school shootings were just “false flag” events invented by government officials, and (my favorite) that a prominent Jewish banking family had arranged for a satellite to use its laser beam to start the devastating fires that ravaged California.

    Of course, we all know it was really job-killing liberal Marvin the Martian and his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator that ignited those fires.

    Lil’ Marjie’s dishing it out wilder and faster than flat-footed COVID Kristi, even with the 24/7 guidance of Trump used-to-be The Lew. Your ratings are in the toilet, Kristi. Time to fire The Lew and get our tax dollars’ worth out of the other deadbeats you hired from D.C. to run your cabinet. Turn up the heat and kill off another couple thousand South Dakotans with your deadly lies about masking and social distancing. Lil’ Marjie’s texting thumbs and big mouth are no match for a Governor whose policies (and lack of them) kill innocent men, women and children.

    Marjie is not giving up without a fight. She’s even giving a wag of the finger and a firm scolding to GOP officials if they choose to punish her: ““If Republicans cower to the mob, and let the Democrats and the fake news media take me out, they’re opening the door to come after every single Republican until there’s none left.”

    The Donald loves fierce lies coming out of the mouth of a pushy female fascist, but COVID Kristi’s deceptions are killers. We all cheered COVID Kristi for abandoning our state over the last year because she thought it was far more important to be anywhere but South Dakota.

    Kristi, there’s a nomination to win and Donald’s favor to lubricate the process. You’re working so hard to protect our “freedom” to infect others and die from the pandemic. Just remember, that body count needs to climb a lot higher to impress The Orange One. He likes ratings. Big ratings!

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-01-30 16:20

    I just checked the covid deaths. South Dakota ended today with 1775. Your lucky, Kristi and the Q wing nuts would have gone nuts if it was 1776.

  10. robin friday 2021-01-30 18:01

    Every single Republican is not MTG. Thank god. Or whatever rules over that kind of thing.

  11. grudznick 2021-01-30 18:21

    To be clear, for grudznick’s sake, when you type about The Donald could you specify if you mean President Trump or our good friend The Donald, Mr. Pay?

  12. mike from iowa 2021-01-30 19:19

    96 Tears, for Greene it gets worse. Wingnuts put her on the house education committee. Like drumpf, she has not one shred of evidence to back any of her claims.

  13. mike from iowa 2021-01-31 08:25

    Got an 8 PM phone call from wingnut group wanting my opinion on Twitter and Facebook cutting off conservative voices and I said it was past time to shut up the liars and conspiracy theorists. She said they’d flag my number and not call me again.

  14. grudznick 2021-01-31 09:06

    This morning at the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfast, the Opening Rant will be delivered by a special guest with knowledge on the subject of Mugwumps taking direction from the likes of Mr. Nesiba. The debates will be a discussion of Mugwumps vs. Flat Earthers, which are insaner. Parking is limited so take the uber or the transit if you can.

  15. Jenny 2021-01-31 12:53

    96 Tears, the people that elected Marjorie Greene just glaringly confirms that there is a mental illness problem in this country that is getting increasingly worse.

  16. 96Tears 2021-01-31 15:13

    Jenny, it is mental illness. Trump has no legacy to show for his presidency other than darkness and emptiness. It’s all he has to offer Kristi Noem and the other imitators.

  17. Mark Anderson 2021-01-31 17:02

    Mike. They don’t cut off conservatives, just people who lie biggly, its just that they are one and the same these days. The Qs are the great ones, who knew Star Trek fans who love one world government would devolve into the cretins they have. I don’t even eat meat let alone snack on baby liver, but oh well, some people are beyond understanding.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-31 19:54

    John, on campaign expenses, whoever unleashed the attack on Howard is lucky that South Dakota has no campaign finance cops.

    Depending on who sent it, the mass-text-attack would fall under SDCL 12-27-15 or SDCL 12-27-16.1. I chafe a bit at the notion that any communication that even mentions a public office holder is subject to campaign finance reporting rules.

    The mass texter may seek cover under the argument that the communication did not explicitly call for a vote for or against any candidate; it just told people to call Howard and tell her to stop being a dupe of Biden Dems (absurd, just absurd).

  19. Mike 2021-02-01 13:32

    Cory is right. Howard should talk to Barnett and have him bring a bill to increase transparency. Our finance system is just an honor system. It’s a joke.

    We don’t even know who she is paying in her family with campaign money.

  20. grudznick 2021-02-02 19:49

    What is funniest here is Mr. Howie, the insanest of them all and a fellow who refused to pay his debts for years, is now instead of castigating the young woman from the District numbered 33 for consorting with libbies like Mr. Nesiba, Mr. Howie is complaining the young lady was called out for being in bed with libbies.

    Where was Mr. Howie’s cry when Mr. Nelson pulled robo-calls against Republicans? Is it possible the broken down ex-Marine is behind this one too?

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