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GOAC Meets Monday to Discuss Follow-Up Information from Bren, DLR on Noem Appraiser Nepotism Scandal

Once they recover from this week’s Special Sessions, legislators on the Government Operations and Audit Committee will reassemble on Monday, November 15 at 8 a.m. in Capitol Room 413 for a meeting that appears focus entirely on Governor Kristi Noem’s unusual intervention into her daughter Kassidy Peters’s application for real estate appraiser certification. So far, the agenda lists two discussion items:

  1. Committee discussion of follow-up information requested from the Department of Labor and Regulation
  2. Committee discussion of follow-up information requested from Ms. Bren

Ms. Bren is Sherry Bren, the creator and 30-year director of the Department of Labor and Regulation’s Appraiser Certification Program whom the Noem Administration forced to quit after Peters struggled to qualify for her certification. Sources told KSFY News that Bren had sent Peters’s appraiser test out of state for scoring to avoid any conflict of interest, but four months after calling Bren onto the carpet (the Governor’s mansion carpet) for unprofessional and slow performance, and just one day after Peters finally received her certification, the Noem Administration told Bren the state no longer wanted her services. The state had to spend $219,151.72, the second-largest settlement payout by the state in the last three years, to settle Bren’s age discrimination complaint and impose a non-disparagement clause to keep her quiet about her forced departure.

Apparently in deference to that non-disparagement clause, Bren’s lawyer, Tim Rensch of Rapid City, advised Bren not to testify at GOAC’s first hearing on this nepotism scandal. However, multiple GOAC members stated at the October 28 meeting that the non-disparagement clause was not a non-disclosure agreement and should not prevent Bren from disclosing facts about her work in the Appraiser Certification Program, the unusual bullying meeting to which the Governor summoned her at the Governor’s mansion on July 27, 2020, or her ouster from her position, which the Secretary of Labor set in motion in November 2020 and which was finally effected along with the age-discrimination settlement in March 2021.

As of breakfast this morning, GOAC has not posted any documents for Monday’s meeting yet. But we should watch closely to see what follow-up information both Bren and her former supervisor, Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman, may submit to the committee. Bren’s testimony, written and/or live before the committee on Monday, is crucial to resolving the contradiction between Secretary Hultman’s October 28 GOAC testimony that the officials assembled for the July 27, 2020, mansion meeting did discuss Peters’s appraiser certification application and Governor Noem’s November 4 public statement that “We didn’t even talk about that.” Bren’s testimony is also vital to understanding how she handled Peters’s application, how Peters’s mom and her mom’s administration responded, and whether by any stretch of non-partisan imagination that response was appropriate.

Since Bren’s departure, the replacement chosen by the Noem Administration, Scott Amundson, has trashed the constructive relationships the Appraiser Certification Program had with the Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota and infuriated appraisers with a premature and likely illegal weakening of standards for appraiser-trainees to enter the field. The Legislature’s Interim Rules Review Committee is meeting one door down from GOAC on Monday to discuss that weakening and two other rule changes from Amundson’s office. Rules Review starts at 9 a.m., but it won’t get to the appraiser rules, listed under South Dakota Real Estate Commission, until dealing with rule changes from eight other agencies. Appraisers and other parties keenly interested in the Appraiser Certification Program should thus have plenty of time to hear GOAC’s discussion of the ACP and Noem’s meddling therein before moving to Room 414 to testify on the contested appraiser rules.

8 Comments

  1. grudznick 2021-11-11

    It seems like this GOAC fellow, Mr. Schoenfish, has joined the Woke Mob.

  2. Jake 2021-11-11

    Cory H; thanks AGAIN for keeping us updated on what’s going on behind the scenes in our politics in this South Dakota red state.
    The MSM of the major ‘newpapers’ on either end of the state owned by out-of-state conglomerates (who owe their souls to their advertisers-not their readers) never give us more than a bare-boned story of forthcoming events-if any!
    “Sweeping things under the rug’ so the people won’t see it is the way things are done by this GOP run state. Sunshine hurts the GOP power’s eyes, ya know.

  3. ArloBlundt 2021-11-11

    Well…the rug’s getting very lumpy….EB-5, Gear-Up, traffic tickets, dead bodies, slaughterhouses, settlements in the hundreds of thousands, sweet heart contracts, and foreign national’s trust funds, to name a few lumps, make navigating the Governor’s office an acrobatic task.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-11-11

    Oh sleepy grudz you mean the awake mob don’t you? Only in a one party state can you get this amount of corruption. Just run over someone, say it was a deer and drive the sheriff’s car home. Make your daughter an appraiser by fiat. Get ready for more in trumps America.

  5. grudznick 2021-11-11

    Mr. Anderson, apparently the young, hip people call this thing the “woke mob.” Yes, I realize it is a twist on the language invented by the English, but it is a thing and a new word. If you were as thirsty for truthliness as grudznick, you’d know this is now in the dictionaries I read.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-11-11

    The only people who say the woke mob, are not young or hip, but need hip replacement.

  7. grudznick 2021-11-11

    Some of the young, hip fellows who I have heard talk about the woke mob and some who are in the woke mob have already had hip replacements, Mr. Anderson. A good portion of the woke mob actually yelled at me the other day at breakfast, and they became even more disgruntled when I just waved a sausage at them and then ignored them.

  8. 96Tears 2021-11-12

    The nutless GOAC cemented its reputation as a joke in the alleged hearings on EB-5. They participated in Mike Rounds’ desperate and successful attempt to run down the clock on the scandal … a network of lackeys that should have been the subject of a RICO investigation. Sherry Bren’s best move is to either refuse to appear or be sworn in before committee members begin yapping. This, of course, would compel the snow princess and her hobgoblins to be sworn in as well.

    Political history in the past decade has proven taking a Republican Pierre insider’s word for anything is crap. If the laws are so shady that the Attorney General can kill a citizen because of the AG’s deliberate negligence and settle for pleading nolo contendere to two out of three misdemeanor charges, I would have big qualms about laws defining what violates or doesn’t violate a nondisparagement clause. If Bren is sworn in, she’s protected from the wrath of the snow queen.

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