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Fiscal Conservative Noem Buys $4,000 Rugs, Sauna for Gov’s Mansion

Out of the frying pan, into the sauna…
Out of the frying pan, into the sauna…

We know that nepotist Kristi Noem lies like a rug. But if you go to the Governor’s mansion, you may get to see Kristi lie on a $4,000 rug:

Of the 17 rugs noted in the receipts, at least three are of the Jaipur variety, hand-knotted rugs typically manufactured in India. And according to purchase records, the state bought two of them 8 by 10 feet in dimension at $4,000 apiece to be placed in the governor’s mansion. The third was also 8 by 10 feet and cost $999 [Joe Sneve, “Gov. Noem Spends More Than $68,000 in Taxpayer Money on Rugs, Sauna, Chandeliers for State Governor’s Mansion,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.11.29].

According to the documents obtained by watchdog group American Oversight, Noem ordered the $4,000 Indian rugs from Montgomery’s Furniture in Sioux Falls on December 17, 2018, for the private dining area.

Montgomery's Furniture, sale record for two $4,000 Indian rugs and two rug pads for Governor's mansion for incoming Kristi Noem, issued 2018.12.17; obtained by American Oversight, published 2021.10.08.
Montgomery’s Furniture, sale record for two $4,000 Indian rugs and two rug pads for Governor’s mansion for incoming Kristi Noem, issued 2018.12.17; obtained by American Oversight, published 2021.10.08.

American Oversight had to pay the state $480 just to get a partial response to its request for records for “renovations or redecorations” for the Governor’s office suites and residences since taking office in 2019, and they didn’t even get a full accounting fo the cost of building Kristi a sauna:

…the documents also show almost $60,500 has been spent redecorating Noem’s state-owned and state-funded Pierre residence, including more than $13,000 for luxury rugs and tens of thousands worth of furniture, lamps and chandeliers. The cost of installing a sauna, a small room used as a hot-air or steam bath, was not included in the expense documents released by Noem’s office.

“While urging South Dakota lawmakers to ‘remain disciplined and save for the future,’ Gov. Noem spent $60,000 taxpayer dollars redecorating the executive residence,” said Jack Patterson, a spokesman for the nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group, American Oversight, which uses public records requests and litigation to monitor government corruption. “These expenses and the open ethics probe into potential abuses of power raise serious questions about whether Noem has used her office to serve her personal interests.”

The sauna, installed during fiscal year 2020, came with a price tag of $8,174 [Sneve, 2021.11.29].

There is no political world in which a South Dakota Governor can make voters think buying fancy imported rugs and a sauna with taxpayer dollars is true fiscal conservatism. The campaign ads write themselves. Fire up, Team Haugaard—it’s time to make luxury-shopper Kristi sweat!


  1. Nix 2021-11-30

    There is no Sauna on Earth large enough to steam
    the Trump/ Lewandowski stink off of
    that girl.

  2. Loren 2021-11-30

    Updating… fine. Renovating…. uh, ok. Sauna? Would that be next to the Faux News communications cubicle?

  3. sx123 2021-11-30

    Sell the mansion and give governors the option to rent a state owned trailer house, a housing allowance, or just live in their own house.

    Not sure the point of governors mansions other than being relics of history.

  4. jerry 2021-11-30

    What, no contractor excise tax or even sales tax or city tax? Someone call the cops. Drop a dime on the slime

  5. Vi Kingman 2021-11-30

    and where are the fiscal conservatives………………….? Nothing but crickets

  6. O 2021-11-30

    Is the Governor spending more time in Pierre now?

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-11-30

    I’ve come to believe, in part from the Ahmaud Arbery trial verdict, that the way to punish Kristi Noem is not to criticize her in public.
    That criticism sends voters to their respective ideological corners and influences none of her supporters.
    Better a subtle, word of mouth approach.
    Not good for political blogs, who need “red meat”, but what good has this blog’s criticism of Republicans done over the past 20 years, anyway?
    There used to be at least a few Democrats holding statewide office.

  8. Donald Pay 2021-11-30

    You know, I somewhat understand the big stuff, like a sauna, is something that might be good for a stressed out Governor to buy at taxpayer expense. It is more like a capital expenditure that will probably be around along after Noem gets beat in 2022. It is better that she take a moment to steam up and relax, rather than to steam up and vent at some high school kid or a 70-year-old state worker who was just doing her job. Maybe the infamous bullying sessions would occur less often if the Governor stripped down and got naked in the sauna for a hour every day.

    The stuff I have a hard time with is the Tchochkes and such. They’re not that expensive, but I bet you could go garage saling for a better price. I saw a deer skull she purchased. I mean you would think the great white huntress would have a number of these lying around to donate to the cause. If I were Governor, I’d use the mansion as a place to show the works of South Dakota artists and crafters, not shop for imported products. I bet you could get rotating artwork for free. Let artists put a price on stuff and let the taxpayers get a small cut for showing it if it sells.

  9. ArloBlundt 2021-11-30

    Well…we can’t do enough for Governor Noem…she is South Dakota nobility. The Argus reports that it costs us a bit over $300,000 to maintain her lifestyle in her gated mansion. That’s per year. While it seems a lot for lightbulbs, toilet paper, eggs and potatoes, she has assured us that she is a true fiscal conservative. She is protecting us from the spend thrift Liberals.

  10. mike from iowa 2021-11-30

    Did Herr General Noem Nothing ever get her troops back from the border?

  11. Mac 2021-11-30

    Anything She wants free of charge. You were at the meeting. You voted on it.

  12. Richard Schriever 2021-11-30

    mfi – one of my NG nephew-in-laws is down at Ft. Huachuca (on the border) right now. Has been for about 6 weeks. Sounds like still will be after the New Year.

    I agree with Mr. Pay; Why is the SD governor’s digs NOT showing off SD culture??

  13. Mark Anderson 2021-11-30

    Well, we have a sauna our lanai. Where do you put one in South Dakota?

  14. ArloBlundt 2021-11-30

    Well…Richard and Donald…the Governor does not furnish the mansion with South Dakota art and other products because the artists and artisans are probably Hippies…you know, how creative people are.

  15. jerry 2021-11-30

    Fascism conservative is who NOem is or just a plain old frumpy fascist. We make a mistake by not acknowledging the fascists that pull the levers of power in South Dakota. Let’s recognize them for who and what they are. Start with Schoenbeck and work you way around, they are not that hard to see.

  16. Bob Newland 2021-11-30

    Kristi has shown from the beginning that she has no concept of what a state’s governor is supposed to do. I suspect that she knows she will not be a state’s governor for more than one more year. I also suspect that at least some of those rugs will find their way to wherever she moves after she is no longer a factor in anyone’s life, including, I suspect, the current First Videographer.

  17. grudznick 2021-11-30

    Do we know there are not photos of Mr. Haugaard, similarly toweled save with a convex chest with a small, palm-sized tuft of dark curly hair in the middle of his chest, entering and leaving this sauna? I just bet you there are probably dozens of those in the legislatures who have sat naked and sweated on the Red Cedar of this sauna, and they probably came out much more relaxed, if not in need of some rehydration.

  18. larry kurtz 2021-11-30

    Not that Republican voters will nominate Mr. Haugaard to face Lora Hubbel and a Democrat but it’s probably safe to note he would remodel the governor’s mansion in the Early Dungeon style replete with manacles and whale oil heat.

  19. Aaron 2021-11-30

    Yeah but those $4000 Indian rugs really “tied the room together, man.” – The Dude

  20. ABC 2021-11-30

    This story just SHOUTS out — Hey, can you do better?
    Two things. (Of course, you can do better!)

    1. Get a budget of $3999 or less. That is what you will spend, and
    2. Do BETTER than Governor No.

    No, I didn’t say wait 12 months and see if you get more votes than No. I didn’t say criticize her.
    I did not say, Hey, move out of state.

    I say–

    Simply do better than this 5 billion dollar a year Part Time Governor. You’re going to do it for $3999 or less, and you will astonish

    Maybe you’ll invent a solar powered pillow that can fly you to the Black Hills at 150 miles an hour!
    Maybe you can find great uses for the many Tumbleweeds that are resting on fences? How about
    building a software that invests your extra change in Computer Chip stocks that go up?

    So you can either spend your energy focusing on Noem spending money on rugs, OR for $3999 or less,
    you can create WONDERS and EXCITMENT for you and others!

    Choose one.

  21. ABC 2021-11-30

    Simple summary of my post.

    1. Spend $3999 or less.
    2. Do better. Create something wonderful!
    3. Your job title can be Governor (at your business).

    Many people will be bored (and not vote). Many people will be cynical and criticize and do nothing.
    Or you can be a person who DOES WONDERS.

  22. grudznick 2021-11-30

    That’s a swell, optimistic way to look at life Mr ABC. grudznick appreciates you.

  23. Mark Anderson 2021-11-30

    Jeez ABC, I spent $4,000 on porcelain tile and made a wonderful living room, bedroom with closet and kitchen and its wonderful. I did move out of state along time ago. I already threw the rugs out so none to noem. Have a wonder filled day, signed Governor Anderson.

  24. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-01

    I think you’re right, Bob Newland. I’ve occasionally wondered what happened to domestic items during a regime change. Do tax paid items gradually disappear into briefcases and oversized totes? Do family and friends surreptitiously arrive before dawn on weekends with minivans and empty booze boxes and clandestinely liberate silverware, window treatments, linens, and objets d’art? And what about that $9000 desk/weapons cache Her Majesty had built?
    I’m guessing these items and thousands more would normally be auctioned off by the state, but, yet, somehow, I have misgivings about it. Theft would be the least of Kristi Lynn’s sins.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-01

    O, Noem has definitely curtailed her national travel schedule since her upsetting break-up with Corey Lewandowski. Either the negative press from all her jet-setting was hurting her internal poll numbers, or she can’t get invitations to national events without Lewandowski out there flacking for her.

    But either way, here or abroad, Noem surely needs that sauna to relax after a hard day of poltiicking.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-01

    ABC, sometimes I have trouble figuring out your point.

    The point here is that buying $4000 rugs and a sauna for the Governor’s mansion belies the Governor’s claims of fiscal conservatism and good stewardship of the public tax dollars. These extravagant purchases epitomize (i.e., represent keenly and are worth highlighting because of their exemplary, instructive nature) the Governor’s selfishness and her lack of commitment to serving the public.

  27. O 2021-12-01

    Cory, more than just being in-state, I was wondering if she was spending time in Pierre versus Castlewood.

  28. Laurisa 2021-12-01

    I don’t want to ever again hear any claims from her and her minions, lackeys and hangers-on that the state can’t afford decent salaries for teachers, correctional officers and the like. I don’t want to ever again hear from her and her minions, lackeys and hangers-on about “fiscal conservatism” and “integrity and care with the taxpayer’s money”.

  29. Porter Lansing 2021-12-01

    Good question, O.

  30. Marie 2021-12-02

    Governor Noem lives large while United for ALICE
    reports that 36% of South Dakota households- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed– could not afford basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan, and taxes.

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