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New Noem Nepotism: Governor Fires Appraisal Chief Who Delayed Daughter’s License, Pays $200K to Shut Her Up

Maybe the Legislature will make its impeachment Special Session a two-fer….

Kassidy Peters is a real estate appraiser. She moved her business from Pierre to Watertown just this summer. But she hit a speed bump on the way to her career in July 2020 when the head of South Dakota’s appraiser certification program, Sherry Bren, denied her application. Fortunately, Kassidy’s mom knew how to smooth out that rough patch.

Kassidy’s mom is Governor Kristi Noem, who called Bren, Kassidy, and a few other people to her office for a lengthy meeting:

Bren, who had directed the Appraiser Certification Program for three decades, told the AP that she received a text on July 26 from her supervisor telling her to be at the governor’s office the next morning, ready to discuss “appraiser certification procedures.”

Besides Noem and Peters, Bren said the meeting included Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman; Bren’s supervisor; the governor’s general counsel; and, participating by telephone, Noem’s chief of staff and a lawyer from the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation.

Bren remembered it lasting close to an hour and including questions from Noem on how certification works [Stephen Groves, “As Daughter Sought State License, Noem Summoned Agency Head,” AP, 2021.09.27].

Noem and her spinsters are responding with a lot of baloney, but no spin in the world can make anyone think the meeting described above was appropriate. An agency head at least two steps down from the Governor makes a professional decision pertaining to an appraisal applicant who happens to be the Governor’s daughter. No normal applicant in this situation would ever get a special meeting with that agency head in the Governor’s Office, never mind a meeting within days of an application denial. No normal applicant would get to take such a leap over the proper chain of command and complaint: contact the agency head, ask for information; if dissatisfied, contact the agency head’s supervisor—in this case, the Secretary of Labor—who would call the agency head and ask for information about the situation…. No normal applicant would probably go even that far; a normal applicant would just grumble a bit, then fix up her papers and reapply.

But this applicant, Kassidy Noem Peters, got her mom, Governor Kristi Noem, to call the offending agency head into her office to be surrounded by the Governor, her aggrieved daughter, the Secretary of Labor, two state lawyers, and the Governor’s chief of staff. No wonder Kristi needs such a big desk—she needs room for all of her star chamber to sit and glower at the hapless functionaries who don’t rubber-stamp whatever her kin are applying for.

This meeting should not have been happening in the Governor’s office, and the only person who should have been at it was the Secretary of Labor, one on one with her subordinate, finding out the facts. There’s no formal complaint, so the applicant shouldn’t be in the room, not at this first meeting. There’s no litigation happening, so there’s no need for lawyers. There’s nothing relating to the Governor’s schedule or policy initiatives, the the Governor’s chief of staff is totally in the wrong room.

And the applicant is the Governor’s daughter. Any discussion of that daughter’s application for any state license should be held in a Kristi-proof room as far from the Second Floor as practical. The Governor shouldn’t even know such a discussion is happening, let alone have any knowledge of or participation in that discussion.

But Governor Noem did intervene. She saw to it that Bren received at that meeting a letter from Peters’s boss railing against Bren and saying Peters deserved certification. And four months later, after Peters finally got her appraiser certification, Bren got canned. Bren complained, and the state paid her $200,000 to shut up:

Bren’s troubles began to mount almost immediately after Peters’ Nov. 25 certification. One day earlier, Hultman had called Bren to discuss “concerns about the Appraiser Certification Program,” according to Bren’s age discrimination complaint. On Dec. 1, the complaint alleged, Hultman called Bren to demand her retirement, saying she had shown an “inability to change gears.”

Hultman told Bren that the phone call was to be kept a secret from her direct supervisor to make it appear Bren’s retirement was her choice, the complaint alleged.

Over the ensuing weeks, Hultman did not yield in demanding a retirement date, even after Bren asked if there was any way to keep her job, emails obtained by the AP show.

Bren filed her age discrimination complaint at the end of December and, three months later, received the $200,000 settlement agreement to withdraw the complaint and leave her job [Groves, 2021.09.27].

Kassidy now joins her husband Kyle and her sister Kennedy as recipients of her mother’s executive favoritism. This kind of nepotism is illegal in other states. Such corrupt conduct could be grounds for impeaching our Governor, but those are just words in South Dakota, not meant to interfere with favors for kin of the one-party regime. In South Dakota, government corruption is a way of life… and, as Bren discovered, a way to unemployment for those who dare upset the gravy train.

Related Reading: The Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials noted Bren’s “retirement” with kind words on March 26:

Sherry Bren has left her position as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program and has retired from the State of South Dakota effective March 26, 2021. AARO would like to wish Sherry Bren well as she takes on new endeavors and enjoys the retirement life. Sherry has been a staple in the Appraiser profession and with AARO [AARO, “South Dakota Loses a Remarkable Asset,” AARO.net, 2021.03.26].

According to Open.SD.Gov (the most ironically named website in South Dakota), Sherry Bren’s final wage was $26.95 an hour. Her $200,000 settlement from the state equals more than 7,421 hours, or 3.7 years of work. That’s a heck of a severance package for someone who, in the July 27, 2020, meeting with the Governor, was called “inefficient” and “unprofessional.”

The state still hasn’t gotten around to scrubbing Bren’s name from its appraiser certification program website:

South Dakota Department of Labor, Appraiser Certification Program FAQ, 2021.09.27.
South Dakota Department of Labor, Appraiser Certification Program FAQ, 2021.09.27; obsolete contact information highlighted by CAH.

Kassidy Peters had a website up for her appraisal business on Friday, according to the Google cache; since Groves broke this story, kassidypetersappraisalllc.appraiserxsites.com has gone 404.

Kassidy Peters appraisal business website, as cached by Google 2021.09.24; retrieved 2021.09.27.
Note Peters’s use of “we” to describe what appears to be a one-woman business run from Kassidy’s house. Perhaps she gets the royal We from her mom. Kassidy Peters appraisal business website, as cached by Google 2021.09.24; retrieved 2021.09.27.

41 Comments

  1. sx123 2021-09-27

    Whatever happened to: if you fail (to pass), keep trying until you succeed?

  2. jerry 2021-09-27

    Just another day in South Dakota republican politics. Bren better be careful or she may get the full Benda, that’s how it works here.. EB5 Rounds showed her the ropes to getting away with damned near anything.

  3. Tim 2021-09-27

    Standard SD Republican operating procedure, I’ll assume nobody is surprised.

  4. grudznick 2021-09-27

    Good golly. grudznick does not abide paying Ms. Bren all of the funny money. But let us not talk about upsetting gravy trains as wasting literal gravy is nearly a sin against humanity.

    As to Ms. Noem, the younger, working out of her house, haven’t most of the appraisers you’ve dealt with in your days worked from home and just drive around doing their deeds for the Realtors (R) or banks who ask them to? I see nothing wrong with the young woman working out of her home, but she should have studied harder for her tests. And Ms. Bren should have known what was coming.

  5. John Dale 2021-09-27

    Was there something wrong with the application, or is Noem learning that much of the bureaucracy under her hates America and Trump?

    Nothingburger.

    We might all want to have such a quick line of inquiry for bad behavior of the bureaucracy.

    I have some experience in this regard, and I hope to bring it to the attention of Governor Noem.

    Perhaps we can pull the head of the department in question in front of the boss and ferret out the incompetence.

    Nobody really cares about the fact that Governor Noem was doing her job .. most of the time, bureaucratic malfeasance gets pushed under the rug. But when you try to holla-at the Governor’s daughter, you might want to be a tad more careful in not getting called to the carpet?

    $200,000 was that a retirement payout. Your classification as hush money is not appropriate, but expected from a fierce political information mortar.

    Respect, but not admiration.

    Hey, are you guys going to run Sutton again?

    For what its worth, I hope me and Governor Noem become bestest pals.

    That goes for all of you, actually.

    Sincerely,

    John

  6. Jake 2021-09-27

    grudz-a responsible Public official doesn’t just pass someone because she is the governess’ daughter in my idea of good government, I mean c’mon man, do you advocate nepotism and cronyism?

    Pr is it just the GOP coming out of your gravy laden innards?

  7. Ryan 2021-09-27

    grudz, your addition of the parenthetical R after realtor reinforces my already strong belief that you are an under-appreciated talent around here. Huzzah.

  8. Jake 2021-09-27

    Dale, you and Noem do deserve each other. More power to ya, kid.

  9. Ryan 2021-09-27

    John, you are either super dumb or you are great at pretending to be. It was shut up money and you and I both paid for it.

  10. Disgusted Dakotan 2021-09-27

    CAH,
    Definitely corrupt conduct that warrants impeachment. Very few Republicans with the backbone to take Ravnsborg or the queen on in their corrupt conduct. That obviousness aside, at what point do the Democrats act like something more than seat warmers?

    Does anyone of them know they have an obligation and the ability as legislators to actually bring motions calling for an impeachment investigation or are all their hands still stuck in the GEAR-UP money pot?

    Has any reporter bothered to ask Ravnsborg about this? Jackley? Legislative “leadership?”

  11. Porter Lansing 2021-09-27

    America’s households lost $15 trillion in the big recession due mostly real estate improperly assessed and George W. letting banks bundle bad loans on poorly appraised property.

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-09-27

    What can anyone expect from a totally red state. Graft and more graft and abuse and lying deflectors like Fury. Does he really earn his salary? Grudz wondering about the naivety of honesty and John Dale sucking up to Noem. None of this is surprising at all.

  13. grudznick 2021-09-27

    Young Mr. Heinert is just a weak-minded bomb thrower, but your man Mr. Smith seems much brainier and is probably the sort of fellow to do the right thing.

  14. Donald Pay 2021-09-27

    “An inability to change gears” is a great phrase. It translates to “You will lick the Governor’s and her daughter’s butt and like it.” Noem and her entire family are white trash.

    At any rate, Ms. Bren did the honorable thing, stood up to the bullies and stood for honest government. When the proper licking wasn’t done she got $200K to go away. You don’t pay someone that kind of money if you weren’t guilty of trying to strong arm or bribe someone, a criminal offense. The Governor should go to prison.

    Now we know that that piece of paper hanging on the young Ms. Peters wall is a participation trophy, a fraud and not a real credential. I wouldn’t be engaging young Ms. Peters in any of my appraisal needs. If I were Ms. Peters, I would close up shop. I’d be embarrassed to be such a fraud.

  15. Observer 2021-09-27

    Screw the facts – shoot the messenger.

  16. SuperSweet 2021-09-27

    As a ex-pat of SD and a registered Republican there for 49 years I can’t believe anyone in SD can support these corrupt behaviors. Notice that is plural.

  17. SuperSweet 2021-09-27

    …and another thing, I can see gullible people from other states buying in to her lies and hypocrisy but SD you are better than that.

  18. ArloBlundt 2021-09-27

    Well…this is the type of egregious greed and manipulation of law and regulation for family gain that should warrant impeachment. The way this sad affair was orchestrated speaks volumes about the gross malfeasance we see from our Governor. I feel sorry for Mrs. Bren. She received the “severance” because she had an open and shut law suit in the works. She deserves the cash as she gave 30 years of her life to serve the people of South Dakota by upholding the public trust and high standards of her office.We need to hold Mrs. Noem to the same standards.

  19. ArloBlundt 2021-09-27

    this steamrolling power play by the Governor is an insult to every state employee, past, present, and future, who tries to fulfill their responsibilities to the people honestly and efficiently. The Governor acted criminally. Its that simple.

  20. Loren 2021-09-27

    Sorta reminds you of Jared getting a top secret clearance or Donnie Jr getting that hard-to-get mountain sheep hunting permit. This is just a way of life in MAGAland, and “Not able to change gears” is MAGAspeak for you aren’t a team player. Buh-bye!

  21. Richard Schriever 2021-09-27

    grudz, when I lived in Los Angeles, I belonged to a group of people who got together to frequent Chinese Dim Sum restaurants. the majority of them were Los Angeles County appraisers. They did not work out of their homes. They worked out of a city office. I believe that the Counties of SD also employ full time county appraisers/assessors and that it is likely that all of them work out of a county office. I have absolutely zero trust in any “private” assessor/appraisers’ judgement. They work for the highest bidder. An inherently corrupt occupation at the private sector level, IMO.

  22. Yvonne 2021-09-27

    The more we the people in this state just sit back and simply talk about all the “open” corruption in this state…they will continue business as usual. Someone with the know how, please, start a coalition so the rest of us can join in help all we can and start recalls and see that they are put in jail where they belong.
    They thought the ballot initiatives have had power, wait till the coalition of the majority of south dakotans…repubs, dems, libertarians and independents aloke who are tired of the lies, corruption, partisanship, nepotism, and greedy so-called God fearing self serving hypocrits that walk the halls of us tax payers buildings and pretend they are working for the betterment of this state. Exposure to the highest level and don’t let up till we have a government that operates as it is delegated to do so….by the law.

  23. Super Sweet 2021-09-27

    Richard, in defense of SD appraisers, of which my dad was one operating out of his home office, they abide by a code of ethics. I recently hired one to appraise my dad’s home long after he passed, and found the work professional and accurate and in line with the lenders appraisal. And there was no financial payoff for a high appraisal. As a matter of fact I thought his fee was low.

  24. ABC 2021-09-28

    Nepotism. Corruption. Resign!

    All the More EASY for us to do Great Things!

    South Dakota has a ZERO PARTY system. Democrats who like to lose. Repos who don’t exist. Their existence is corruption, which is a ZERO.

    Anyone running for anything who isnt a R or D is MORE than our ZERO party system.

  25. ABC 2021-09-28

    Agree with Yvonne. SD law right now only allows recall of Mayors, Alderman, and Commissioners. Recall of Governor and elected State Officials can be our next ballot initiative.

    Write to your 2 State Representatives, ask for impeachment for Noem for corruption.

    South Dakota government works for corrupt officials. Not for the citizens.

    If there is outrage, we can take it back. Don’t expect that from Corrupt Zero Party Republicans or Happy to Lose Democratic Party. If the people don ‘t care, unfortunately this will continue.

  26. M 2021-09-28

    S.D. is in a state of mediocracy and the country is following in its footsteps. Unfortunately, many men like Noem because she is easy on the eyes and loves guns, hunting, rodeo and everything they do. Some women I know like her because she is assertive, gets in everyone’s face to tell them like it is, and has so much courage with that backup piece she carries. This mentality is hard to crack because of mediocracy, a system of yes men who follow a mediocre person. It’s been this way since the early 1990’s when Governor Mickelson encouraged tolerance and gave us some kind of hope.

    RUN THE CANDIDATES and they will win. People want a change and now is the time. Yvonne, you have a calling that even I can hear.

  27. WillyNilly 2021-09-28

    Just a few lyrics from “Lie to Me” by Jonny Lang:

    “Lie to me
    And tell me everything is alright
    Lie to me”
    “Oh, and I’ll just try to make believe
    That everything, everything you’re tellin’ me is true”
    “Lie to me
    It doesn’t matter anymore
    It could never be
    The way it was before”

    Just quietly sing a few bars whenever you hear or see or read anything from Republicans.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-28

    John Dale, there’s a lot of meat in this corruption story. It doesn’t matter whether the application was deficient or not: if there were questions about the status of Peters’s application, Peters’s mom had no business asking those questions. Peters’s mom had no business using her office, her general counsel, and her chief of staff to call the agency chief who handled applications on the carpet.

    And even if the application was perfect, you don’t force a veteran public servant to retire, then pay her $200K to keep quiet about that termination. If you have the goods on that employee, if she really demonstrated a pattern of poor performance, you fire her, and when she cooks up some fake age-discrimination complaint, you present the evidence of her poor performance to the hearing examiner. A $200K settlement, nearly four years of pay, just screams, “We really screwed up, and we need to keep this quiet, because it looks really bad for the Governor.”

    Notice that, contrary to the Governor’s effort to spin this story as a liberal-media attack on her daughter, I can issue this rebuttal without “disparaging” Peters in any way. This story isn’t about attacking anybody’s children. This story is about pointing out that the Governor should not be using her power to influence state decisions and benefit her grown relatives or anyone else with whom she has a personal relationship. An attack on nepotism is not a personal attack on the beneficiaries of that nepotism… although accepting nepotism does cast a shadow on one’s character, just like offering nepotism.

  29. larry kurtz 2021-09-28

    It’s impossible not to notice that the white people who influence the South Dakota Republican Party continue to brainwash their own kids to sell tyranny and exclusivity to the voting populace. Who else is old enough to remember when petty pug Pat Powers accused Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of pimping her young son in a campaign advert?

    At his blog, Dakota War College obese Brookings blogger Pat Powers routinely smears principled conservatives who don’t bend the knee to the South Dakota Republican Party establishment. Portly Powers not only salts his blog comment section with a seemingly infinite variety of aliases that threaten or jeer his political enemies he routinely pimps his own afflicted spouse, kids and daughter to raise sympathy and operating capital.

    That SDGOP condones, encourages and even pays Powers to threaten, malign, bully and libel women while their party standard-bearers preach the protection of women is a measure of hypocrisy that entirely defies the human capacity to comprehend it. He has long been banned from my blog and from other South Dakota related sites because of a constant stream of bigotry, misogyny and other hate speech.

    In 2012 then-US House Representative Kristi Noem (NAZI-SD), got richer by pimping her children and relatives in her campaign videos then raised four times more moola than her Democratic opponent, Matt Varilek.

  30. Vi Kingman 2021-09-28

    Noem never denied anything. Just attacked the media.
    I’d like to know what liberals are being ignored?

  31. I’m No Dr. Suess 2021-09-28

    She takes to term “helicopter parent” to another level!

  32. O 2021-09-28

    We cannot have corrupt leaders, but the Kassidy Peters story signals exactly that kind of corruption and does tremendous damage to Kristi Noem’s credibility.

  33. Adam 2021-09-28

    The website screenshot appears to offer appraisals for all sorts of commercial properties. Kassidy Peters has a Certified Residential license, which does not permit her to appraise anything beyond non-complex non-residential having a value below $400,000 and any 1-4 unit residential. She would need a Certified General license to appraise anything else.

  34. Kat 2021-09-28

    Absolutely sickening. She is clearly unfit and has been for quite awhile now and she should be impeached. Enough is enough.

  35. mike from iowa 2021-09-28

    One more example of how lack of oversight protects the ruling class in Northern Mississippi!

  36. 96Tears 2021-09-28

    If only there were a Democratic Party in South Dakota. Noem and her pack of pathological liars in Pierre have nothing to fear. They control everything and no quality candidate will rise up and attempt to run her out of office. White trash, Don, is the correct term.

  37. O 2021-09-28

    Here is the lesson learned from The Donald: there is no such thing as abuse of power; power by its very nature puts one above such puny concerns of right and wrong. I’m sure she has immunity as the governor — just as Donald Trump did as the president.

    Power doesn’t corrupt, power IS corruption.

  38. Porter Lansing 2021-09-28

    Hear, hear O.

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