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From Nepotism to Cronyism: Noem Son-in-Law Leaves Gov’t for CAFO Consulting with Kostboth and Mickelson

After two and a half years enjoying the nepotism of his mother-in-law the Governor, Kyle Peters, father of Granny Gone Kristi Noem’s first grandchild, has left state government to join a private wing of the Republican crony machine. After making $63K+ a year handing out CAFO bribes in his mother-in-law’s Office of Economic Development, Peters ports his corporate-welfare experience to A1 Development Solutions, a firm dedicated to helping CAFOs get corporate welfare from the office Peters just left:

A few weeks ago, I resigned as Senior Business Development Representative from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. While my time there was a quick two and a half years, I gained several friends in & out of the office.

I accepted a position with A1 Development Solutions, which is an economic development project management and consultant firm with a focus on agriculture based in Sioux Falls [Kyle Peters, tweet, 2021.06.07].

A1 Development Solutions helped at least two CAFOs finagle the bribes Peters was helping GOED administer to grease their county rezoning processes. A1 Development Solutions was founded by Paul Kostboth, who worked for five years our Department of Agriculture’s ag development director until he decided he could make more money promoting CAFOs as a private consultant. A1 Development Solutions was cofounded by G. Mark Mickelson, who at the time was Speaker of the House and has a long record of using his political clout to promote big feedlots and other big ag polluters through legislation, intimidation, and myopic rural development propaganda. A1 still lists as a consultants Ty Eschenbaum and Ben Stout, both of whom worked for Kostboth in the Department of Agriculture. Peters thus follows in the footsteps of public officials translating their experience and connections into private-sector profit. He also continues to enjoy the patronage of well-placed Republicans apprentices employed not as actual value creators but as middlemen peddling influence from cozy, unaccountable sinecures.


  1. bearcreekbat 2021-07-20

    This type of story seems a mirror image of the right wing’s media treatment of Hunter Biden.

  2. 96Tears 2021-07-20

    Sounds much more similar to the early days of Joop Bollen’s and Richard Benda’s ventures inside and outside state employment.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-20

    96, review my comparison of Kostboth to Bollen in my 2017 post on his founding of A1 (also linked above). I notice that before A1, Ben Stout worked for Riverview LLP, which I believe bought the Veblen dairies from Rick Millner, who was the early exploiter of Korean EB-5 investors who first got me studying EB-5 and Joop Bollen. Today’s CAFO cronyism traces back directly to the feedlot follies of the EB-5 days.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-20

    However, bear, and the mirror is somewhat warped. In this case, we’re dealing with a direct beneficiary of executive nepotism who got a state job out of the blue and then was able to use that state job to get a closely related private sector job with key players in the ruling party. Can anything similar be said about Hunter Biden and his paintings?

  5. Guy 2021-07-20

    Cory, you have written an excellent analysis on the “revolving door” of cronyism in this state and it also exists in other states and at the federal level. It beyond sickening to watch and for so many years to see the revolving door continue to spin around like it does. You also see people swing back through the door into government and swing back out again to the closely-linked companies on government contracts. Some get several “rotations” in and out through the door over their entire careers. What is also sad is you see this play out in both political parties at all levels.

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-07-20

    Guy – To disagree.

    It’s much more prevalent in the Republican Party because the connies are primarily the party of big business.

    I don’t see liberal ex-politicos leaving office to become lobbying agents for Ben and Jerry’s, Apple, Disney, Microsoft or Alphabet.

  7. leslie 2021-07-20

    Well you know, Dascle became a lobbiest. Republicans shamed the state for it [edited in desperate attempt to focus the conversation on the original topic—CAH.]

  8. leslie 2021-07-20

    Daschle of course

  9. bearcreekbat 2021-07-21

    Cory, I agree the mirror is a bit warped. To the best of my knowledge Hunter was not hired to work for the U.S. government after Joe was elected VP, while Kyle was hired to work for the State of S.D. after Kristi’s election as Governor. In Kristi’s case that does smell alot like classic nepotism.

    That said, it strikes me as as unsettling to wage public criticism on either Hunter Biden or Kyle Peters for obtaining lucrative outside employment based on speculation that their parent influenced their employer. Both are private citizens engaged in private work so the factors relied upon by their employers in hiring them are really none of the public’s business, absent some abuse of public trust or power.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-21

    Good grief, Leslie, and John, how hard do I have to work to keep this thread on topic?

    Bear, Biden has never been a public employee. Peters has, and now, like Joop Bollen and Paul Kostboth, he is taking advantage of his public position to turn a private profit, and he is doing so in a company founded by members of the one-party regime who are playing the same game. Peters thus exemplifies th revolving-door corruption of this state.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-21

    Well..Republicans don’t think of this cronyism as nepotism or conflict of interest. They think of it as a career.

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-07-21

    Well, Republicans are used to trust fund babies getting what they want.

  13. Aaron 2021-07-22

    I guess promoting others into CAFO’s is a better gig than acquiring the massive liability involved to operate one yourself.

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