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Streamlining Fine, But Appraisers Want Investigations of Noem’s Nepotism

Under the scorching heat of scrutiny from the press, the Legislature, the Attorney General, and a public still boggled at Governor Kristi Noem’s heavy-handed intervention in her daughter Kassidy Peters’s pursuit of a state certification to appraise real estate, our beleaguered Governor issued both a video and an official press release to take people’s attention off her nepotism.

In the video, Governor Noem repeats her assertion that “I never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy” and that “other appraisers went through the exact same process that Kassidy did.”

I see… so other appraisers got to come to the Governor’s Office to watch the Governor, her lawyer, her chief of staff, her Labor Secretary, and the Labor Secretary’s lawyer all gang up on the appraisal chief who was just trying to do appraisal certification fairly?

In the video and the Friday press release, Governor Noem insists she’s been working on “streamlining” the appraiser certification process “for years.”

Really? The only Legislative action on that front during Noem’s term was 2021 House Bill 1015, which came from the Department of Labor and Regulation, not the Governor’s Office, and which Sherry Bren, the appraiser certifier whom Noem fired and whom Noem implies in her video had been on the job too long and had failed to streamline the process, presented and promoted to both House and Senate Commerce and Energy last winter, even as her unfair firing was pending. We didn’t hear word one from Noem about appraiser certification until AP’s Stephen Groves broke this latest nepotism scandal Monday.

And all the talk of streamlining in the world does not explain why the Governor called Sherry Bren in to her office for a group chewing-out right after her daughter’s certification hit a rough spot, why the Governor’s daughter was present at that unusual meeting, why the Governor fired Bren right after her daughter got her certification, or why the Governor (er, we, the taxpayers) had to pay Bren $200,000 to settle her age discrimination complaint following the firing.

Blowing more smoke, the Governor quotes three appraisers in her press release to thank her for her streamlining. Nothing the three appraisers say addresses the special treatment the Governor’s daughter received or the firing of Sherry Bren.

The Governor does not quote Watertown appraiser Brad Johnson, who takes to the papers to say that, yes, there are frustrating delays in appraiser certification, but they aren’t the fault of the woman Noem fired or anything that Noem can fix at the state level:

Immediately on her dismissal, word spread through the appraisal industry about Noem’s intervention and Bren’s forced firing. Bren, who has managed the Appraiser Certification Program for nearly 30 years, is well respected statewide and nationally.

Most everyone who has been licensed as an appraiser in South Dakota since 1991 has worked with Bren. The licensing process is time consuming and sometimes difficult — but that is not Bren’s fault. It is driven by federal banking regulations and national appraisal standards [Brad Johnson, “Appraisers Furious with Gov. Kristi Noem’s Intervention on Daughter’s Behalf,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.10.01].

Johnson gets us back to the point: Noem’s intervention was rank nepotism. And the special treatment continues, as Noem’s Labor Department refuses to release public documents about her daughter’s certification application. Johnson says that’s a dangerous double standard that warrants investigation:

Appraisers can sympathize with Peters’ frustration. They’ve all gone through the process. But none had the advantage of a governor influencing their license application.

There always has been one set of rules that govern all of us appraisers. Now, apparently, there isn’t.

…If Noem has nothing to hide, she should release the state’s letters initially denying and later approving her daughter’s license.

It has been made clear to all appraisers that these are public documents. Now, apparently, they are not, which might be hard to explain to the national financial institutions that often request the documents.

Because of these mixed messages, the appraisal industry is strongly supporting investigations by the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee, the Attorney General’s Office and potentially by the Appraisal Subcommittee , a federal organization governing the appraisal industry [Johnson, 2021.10.01].

Johnson also reminds us what KSFY pointed out right away Monday: Noem’s meddling in appraiser certification could trigger a federal audit that could shut down real estate appraisals and lending in South Dakota. No talk of “streamlining” can avert that dread prospect.

And none of Noem’s “streamlining” talk denies these three salient and damning facts: the Governor personally intervened in her daughter’s appraiser certification, favored her daughter with a special meeting in her office with the appraisal certifier who got her goat, and then fired that certifier in a way that cost the state a $200K settlement and may jeopardize real estate transactions across the state.

Related Relations: The three appraisers Noem quoted in her diversionary press release are Brian Gatzke of Brookings, Lisa Blake of Pierre, and Chase Kristensen of Mitchell.

21 Comments

  1. mike from iowa 2021-10-02

    Noem Nothing is not a paragon of truthiness as a first langwidge. Nor as a last resort.

  2. Eve Fisher 2021-10-02

    The whole point, which Ms. Noem is tap dancing around as if she’s in a house infested with cockroaches, is that her darling daughter failed the test. And rather than have her daughter study some more and take it again, Noem insisted on her daughter being given her appraisers’ certification anyway.
    Spoiled snowflakes raise spoiled snowflakes.

  3. Whitless 2021-10-02

    Nepotism in Noem nomenclature becomes “streamlining.” But the indisputable facts lead to the only rational conclusion – streamlining was not the motivation in Kristi’s intervention on Kassidy’s behalf. It was unadulterated nepotism. Once again, Kristi spews outright lies in the hope that her fake news will be embraced and amplified by her supporters.

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-10-02

    In the Trump-World of Kristi Noem’s rationale, the kid didn’t “fail” the test.

    The test failed to realize that the kid knows how to appraise.

  5. sx123 2021-10-02

    Does streamline mean make it so easy even a caveman can do it? What exactly does she mean by streamline?

  6. ArloBlundt 2021-10-02

    Well…My question is Did Ms. Bren finally sign the Appraiser’s Certificate?? Or did she refuse, and was it signed by someone else in the Department??

  7. Yvonne 2021-10-02

    Read between the lines everyone in case others missed this top quote. Ms. Bren, in her public statement to the press, voiced she was already in the process of what the Governor now takes credit for as the Governor’s “streamling” if the appraisal process?
    Taking credit for the work Ms. Brens was already in progresss of impkementing a more efficient and effective appraisal licensing system…hmmm.
    Is their more to this than just nepotism and the barrage of harrassnent upon Ms. Bren in the form of retaliation for Ms.Bren doing her job.
    Anyone recall the extortion involving the infamous actresses whom paid big money for their daughters to be placed in select universities/colleges?
    The law enforcement officials did their job there.
    Here, the SD AG is failing to do its job and passing this off to committee to decide? Trumpery legal head if state we have, here, in SD.
    EXTORTION is a crime which includes the obtaining of some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office. Sounds like a crime has been committed here.

  8. cathy 2021-10-02

    Noem got her daughter a participation trophy.

  9. SDBlue 2021-10-02

    She’s streamlining the appraisal process just like she is streamlining access to cannabis in SD. She has been working on this for years just like she has been a medical cannabis advocate for years. Our Fascist Barbie is a fraud and pathological liar. #AllHatNoCattle

  10. Sh 2021-10-03

    I guess we should just be thankful Kristi’s kid didn’t want to be a doctor.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-10-03

    So what’s a little Nepotism among trumpies. It helps the campaign and the affair will help her compete with Nikki Haley. Trump will surely pick a woman for vp and why not Kristi, they think alike, engage in total self interest and laws are made to be bent. A match made in trumpian heaven.

  12. grudznick 2021-10-03

    So this Ms. Bren lady, tell me again about how the public is all boggled and stuff? I have not heard a single member of the public, Mr. H, who claims to be boggled or is really a proponent of these Appraiser fellows. I have heard from public who are just libbie haters infested with NDS, but not really public who are boggled.

  13. ArloBlundt 2021-10-03

    Grudz…count me in as a proponent of stringent and exacting certification of property appraisers. It affects me directly as a homeowner and as an investor in property and in the stocks of financial institutions, bonds, and common stocks. Fraudulent and inept property appraisals which were backed up by billions of dollars by mortgage insurance companies (AIG for example) were direct contributors to the crash in the housing market in 2008=10. This led to the greatest depression since the Great one in 1928. After bailing out investment banks, mortgage insurance companies, and institutional investors (not homeowners) the Feds tightened up certifications of property appraisers along with a number of other banking reforms (Trump tried, and partly succeeded in watering some down. Republicans love a non regulated, “Wild West” investment market. Its Disneyland for scammers) I also like my banker and would hate to see him jump off a high building.

  14. grudznick 2021-10-03

    I will count you thusly, Mr. Blundt. I expect young Ms. Noem, the daughter of the bunch I mean, would do fine by you as an investor and such. grudznick has few high-brow dealings, and would likely be less directly affected by appraisers as you would be.

    I like my banker too, and am especially fond of my barber and my breakfast cooks. I find all of that to be somewhat removed from Ms. Noem who eats her eggs on the heartier side than I, or Ms. Bren, who as I understand it is a vegan.

  15. ArloBlundt 2021-10-03

    Grudz-if you are a home or property owner you are effected by these appraisal standards. If they gin up the market, you or your heirs are sure to be affected. Mrs. Noem is responding to complaints by Realtors about delays in appraisals. Let me assure you that a “delay” in an appraisal (and that’s subjective) is caused in the majority of cases by problems with the abstract, problems with liens on the property, questions about the survey, or questions about the financial records submitted to the lender by the potential buyer. An appraisal can’t be done until the first three are satisfied and the lender may hold up the process until satisfied, while blaming the delay on the appraiser.Its all a part of the game.

  16. ArloBlundt 2021-10-03

    Grudz–“We’re waiting for the appraisal” is polite banker speak for “We still have some questions about the loan”.

  17. grudznick 2021-10-03

    I own some homes, yes, Mr. Blundt. So I will pay closer attention to what seems a meaningless thing. Perhaps if I sell one soon I shall find out how this all works with the Realtors(R) and Appraisers and bankers and such. I usually just let my banker handle this sort of thing.

  18. ArloBlundt 2021-10-03

    Grudz-and you are wise to do so…faulty or inept appraisal =more risk=higher interest and fees. I was at lunch during the Housing Melt Down with a old long time banker, a gravy and potatoes, type guy, common as an old shoe, when our conversation was interrupted by laughter and squeals from an adjoining table of Realtors, all dressed in their matching blazers. “Realtors,” the banker mumbled, crossing himself, “May God save America from the Realtors.”

  19. mike from iowa 2021-10-04

    Are appraisers in demand?
    Job Outlook

    Employment of property appraisers and assessors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations. Despite limited employment growth, about 6,300 openings for property appraisers and assessors are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

  20. CK 2021-10-17

    Christensen grew up in Plankinton, and attended school there. It is 11 miles from White Lake. I think P/WL was still a co-op at that time…but I can’t remember for sure.

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