In today’s gaslighting report, Kristi Noem’s spokesboy Ian Fury tries telling a fellow radical right-winger that the Governor never supported the emergency coronavirus response legislation she asked the Legislature to pass at the end of the 2020 Session.
This little dust-up goes back to Nate Hochman’s National Review article questioning Noem’s commitment to the conservative death cult. Citing a July article on the topic, Hochman says Noem was for coronavirus lockdowns before she was against them:
It’s true that South Dakota never issued mask mandates or stay-at-home orders. But whether that conservative victory is creditable to Noem is more complicated than her rhetoric suggests. Some conservatives have raised doubts. Among their ranks is Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs for American Principles Project (APP).… In a Substack post back in July, Schweppe reported that Noem tried to lock down South Dakota: “On March 30, 2020, at the request of Gov. Noem, South Dakota Rep. Lee Qualm introduced House Bill 1297, a bill that would declare a state of emergency in South Dakota and give the Secretary of Health unprecedented powers to impose mandates and lockdowns, allowing for the placement of ‘reasonable restrictions’ on any public or private location, including a ‘business, park, school, or other location that promotes public gathering.’”
That bill was decisively rejected by a 50-17 margin in the staunchly conservative South Dakota House of Representatives. But if Noem had gotten her way, it would have expanded her power to unilaterally mandate the very coronavirus restrictions that she built her reputation on opposing [Nate Hochman, “Who Is Kristi Noem, Really?” National Review, 2021.09.15].
2020 House Bill 1297, requested by the Governor’s Office, would have delegated to the Secretary of Health the Governor’s authority to restrict or close activities at public and private locations. Even this liberal blog thought that measure was a bad idea: the Governor already has that emergency power; such awesome power should only be exercised by an elected official accountable directly to the public, not an appointee who could take the heat for her.
Anyway, on Tuesday, CPAC board member Terry Schilling evidently got into a Twitter fracas with Ian Fury about this issue… because, you know, we pay our Governor’s spokesman $115,122.80 to sit around debating out-of-state grouches on social media all day long. (And hey, we pay Ian for that vital service, yet he never drops by South Dakota’s own Dakota Free Press to challenge mean comments about our Governor? Come on, Ian, where’s the love?) As the exchange rolled on to Wednesday, Fury said Noem “asked the legislature to take up this bill, not to pass it, but to clarify what authorities she DIDN’T have.” Schilling called that spin “the silliest thing I’ve ever heard*”.
“…[S]he would have vetoed the legislation if the legislature passed it—after asked them to pass it?” demands Schilling. “She was for it before she was against it?”
“Show me where she ‘asked them to pass it’,” snarks back Fury.
Enter interested observer and journalist Joe Sneve, who has paid more attention to South Dakota politics over his career than Schilling and Fury put together:
According to the South Dakota House of Representatives Journal of March 30, 2020, Melissa Klemann from the Governor’s Office testified in favor of House Bill 1297. Policy advisor Klemann told the House on March 30, “I would like to voice our support of House Bill 1297.” She referred to reasonable restrictions that would allow the Department of Health to “ask [a] gathering to be stopped.” She said the Governor had been clear about not wanting to shut things down and preferring local authorities and businesses to “have conversations” but wanted the Department of Health to be able to shut down activities that are “impacting and not abiding by our executive order” and large gatherings with “thousands and thousands of people.”
So, yes, Ian, Governor Noem asked legislators to pass 2020 House Bill 1297. You might have missed that, since you didn’t move to South Dakota and start working for Governor Noem until the following week. But since you’re speaking for our Governor and our state, we’d prefer that you use your very well compensated time to do some basic research before you pop off about things that happened before you moved here. Otherwise, you might give folks the impression that you’re lying just to win a Twitter spat.
*Schilling needs to get out more. Wednesday one of my local banks had this joke on its sign:
—Why don’t pirates take the mountain road?
Come on—that’s at least as silly as the things Ian Fury says!