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Guest Column: Noem’s Anti-Trans Propaganda Website Shares P.O. Box with Other Lewandoski Ploys

South Dakota ex-patriate Dave Chadwick—raised in Vermillion and Sioux Falls, now keeping democracy alive in Helena, Montana—digs into Governor Kristi Noem’s self-serving transgender bullying website and finds little tendrils suggesting her defense of Title IX is just another outgrowth of the Corey Lewandowski hate-marketing cancer:

Last week, Kristi Noem’s campaign twitter excitedly announced that her transkid-bullying “Defend Title IX” petition had drawn 45,000 signatures.  It is telling this news came from her campaign twitter and not her official twitter.

When Noem announced the “Defend Title IX” coalition, she was eager to promote it with her taxpayer-funded official communication channels: multiple posts on her official twitter and official facebook as well as a press release on the Governor’s taxpayer-funded website.

When asked, Noem and her staff insisted that the coalition was not paid for with official funds. This defense is questionable at best: even if the website was privately-funded, her press conference and media appearances obviously involved a substantial amount of work on state time and the use of taxpayer-funded communication resources (like her press staff and of course her TV studio).

If we take Noem at her word that South Dakota taxpayers aren’t footing the bill—a big if— the next logical question is who is paying for this coalition? A slick website, press conference, and list-building database don’t just materialize out of thin air. Even at the very modest end, we’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.

The press coverage of Noem’s announcement of the site didn’t ask too many questions, and the coalition’s website doesn’t provide much information about who is really behind the effort. The site contains no conspicuous contact information; the attribution at the bottom of each page is just the unhelpfully circular statement that the website is “Paid for by DefendTitleIXNow.com.”  The only real identifying information anywhere on the site is buried in the Privacy Policy. At the very end of the page there is a reference to a mailing address, a post office box in Virginia: 

“P.O. Box 26141, Alexandria, VA 22313”

This is where things get curious. Why is an effort by South Dakota’s Governor based out of a P.O. Box in Virginia?

In fact, Noem’s new coalition isn’t the only occupant of this mailbox. It is used by a number of conservative political campaigns. One prominent occupant of the mailbox is the “Fight Back Now America Political Action Committee”: a committee founded at the end of December by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to finance “America First, ‘Trump-like’ Candidates”.

A post office box isn’t all that Noem appears to be sharing with Lewandowski.

A lookup of the IP address associated with the Defendtitleixnow.com website finds that the site is hosted on Google cloud shared server space, along with Lewandowski’s PAC, a few dozen other websites for various conservative political campaigns, and the tantalizingly ambiguous KristiNoem.com.  

You don’t have to look long to see a distinct resemblance across many of the sites hosted on this server: they all feature the same petition style, same layout, same font, same rounded corners on everything. It’s hard not to guess that they all share a common designer. Perhaps that would be Microtargeted Media, a Republican political consulting firm based in Florida whose website is also hosted on the same server. This firm is run by Christian Ziegler, a pro-Trump Republican party activist who is…another friend of Corey Lewandowski.

 A Virginia mailbox, a Florida website, all linked to Noem’s new BFF Corey Lewandowski. 

…That’s where I stopped going down the rabbit hole (for now).  This whole chain suggests some important questions:

1.  Is Noem’s Defend Title IX effort really an “initiative to defend fairness in women’s sports?”  Or is it just another shallow stunt to get some Fox News interviews, fuel her Trumpian connections, and build the mailing list for her 2024 presidential campaign?

2.  Was any of this effort was paid for with campaign dollars – the website, the mailbox in Virginia, the database holding the 45,000 signatures, or anything else? If one dollar of campaign funds went into this project, then it is a campaign expenditure and the Governor’s extensive promotion of the effort with taxpayer-funded channels is a potential violation of state law.

Noem needs to come clean on how she is paying for this astroturf campaign. It’s not enough to just assert that taxpayers aren’t footing the bill. We have a right to know who is.

Better yet, maybe she should just drop this ridiculous effort altogether. South Dakotans don’t want her to keep wasting time on this insincere pearl-clutching effort to persecute kids, ignore doctors, and harass transpeople [Dave Chadwick, essay to Dakota Free Press, April 2021].

9 Comments

  1. Eve Fisher 2021-04-10

    As the article you quoted said, all of these crack-brained ideas come out of conservative think tanks and are spread nationally by the appropriate political stooges and their advisors. None of this is local. South Dakota school boards and athletic associations want nothing to do with the anti-transgender bills. They’re handling things just fine. But Kristi doesn’t care about local at all.

  2. Amy B. 2021-04-10

    Personally I think the state and the governor herself needs a thorough audit. We already know she blatantly lies to our faces….so it’s logical to think that her saying tax payers aren’t funding this is another lie. I have to wonder how much money shifting and creative accounting is going out there in Pierre. Are we paying for her trip out of the state this weekend too?

  3. Donald Pay 2021-04-10

    Eve is right. This is all political marketing pumped out by conservative think tanks, christian conservative foundations and political consultants located far outside of South Dakota.

  4. RST Tribal Member 2021-04-10

    America’s Governor come clean! Good luck on that South Dakota voters and taxpayers. With her Washington handlers and prompting by the GOP surrogate leader in FL there is no coming clean for that gal.
    There is wonderment on if she will be ordered to run against our RINO in 2022 or re-up for Governor. Hopefully the GOP surrogate leader tips his golf club soon as the uncertainty is making the America’s Governor seem more nutty and lofty then usual.
    Maybe South Dakota voters will come to their senses by November 2022.

  5. mike from iowa 2021-04-10

    Could this be the next Erickson/Butina Sling criminal enterprise to come crashing down with federal charges?

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-04-10

    Kristi Noem Lies Like A Trump! ~ Cheats Like One, Too!

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-04-10

    Come on folks, its such a win to have Republicans claiming to support Title IX since they fought against it for so long. State it that way. Of course they don’t mean it, everyone knows that, they just have to try to to turn the ship somehow, but they can’t. Tick tock, tick tock trumpies, please take your pills and try to keep it up.

  8. mike from iowa 2021-05-31

    Noem, that well known expert on kristianity, hates gays and transgenders all the while forgetting her alleged heavenly father, no one named drumpf, does not make mistakes, only magat wingnuts.

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