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Former Noem Advisor: Governor Lying in Push for Transgender Discrimination

Guess who didn’t sign a non-disparagement clause on her way out the door….

Caroline Thorman was another of the Beltway politicos whom Governor Kristi Noem imported to help her focus on her national campaign for celebrity. All Thorman got for her trouble was seven months of work as Noem’s policy advisor and federal liaison and a new husband, radical theocrat and right-wing lobbyist Norman Woods (who should have taken his bride’s name!).

The newlyweds are unhappy over the fact that Caroline’s old boss vetoed the big anti-transgender sports bill last spring. And now Caroline Thorman Woods has taken to the press criticizing Noem for trying to reclaim her conservative credentials by supporting a retread of last spring’s anti-trans bill. “I simply refuse,” says the Governor’s former advisor on Twitter, “to live in a world where elected leaders spew lies and we complacently stand by, especially in South Dakota where we should be leading the charge on conservative issues.”

To actualize her rejection of complacency before lies (and, Mrs. Woods, may I ask if you are also prepared to do penance for your service to the lying Trump Administration?), Caroline Thorman Woods takes to the Rapid City Journal and says Noem’s splashy national ad buy about “fairness in women’s sports” is “disingenuous at best and gaslighting at worst.” Woods says Noem had her chance to defend conservative purity and hate last year and failed:

First, let’s start with last year’s women’s sports bill that promoted fairness in women’s sports. The South Dakota legislature put this strong bill on Gov. Noem’s desk prohibiting biological males from competing in women’s sports. It protected girls in K12 sports and college. She tweeted that she was  “excited” to sign the bill. Well, she quickly changed her mind. She reversed course after getting woke pressure from people including Matt McCaulley, who double-dips as a Sandford Health lobbyist and a paid advisor to Gov. Noem, and D.C. elitist, Corey Lewandowski, who is just plain creepy [Caroline Woods, “Gov. Noem’s New Campaign Ad Is Gaslighting at Its Finest,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.01.15].

Calling Corey Lewandowski “creepy” understates his vileness. Calling Matt McCaulley “woke” is fantastic—i.e., pure fantasy. But the point is not to say that radical conservatives like Caroline Thorman Woods make sense; the point is that someone who got a $94K/year job from Noem is willing to go on the record and say what a bad conservative and bad leader Noem is.

After labeling Noem’s veto last year as an “unforced error with her base,” Woods says Noem is overtagging her role in defending tradition in 4-H rodeo:

Second, that her ad claimed that she’s been defending girls’ sports for years – referring to 4-H rodeo – is incredibly misleading. Let’s clear this up. There was a 40-year-old controversy regarding an interpretation of Title IX by United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). Title IX “prohibits discrimination based on sex.”

Basically, bureaucrats in Washington attempted to make 4-H rodeo co-ed. Most South Dakotans know that most 4-H events are co-ed, like showing cattle, sheep and more. However, rodeo is split between boys and girls (only New Mexico and South Dakota even have 4-H rodeo). In 2017, Gov. Noem did reject this administrative interpretation. But note, there were no transgender activists involved, no corporate pressure. In 2017, she helped resolve an obscure bureaucratic disagreement over 4-H, hardly the courageous stand her new ad would have us believe. The ad is a half-cooked attempt to distract from her caving to corporate pressure in 2021 [Woods, 2022.01.15].

Here Woods offers a reasonable deconstruction of false rhetoric from her old boss that requires no right-wing mindset: Woods simply points out that Noem is misrepresenting a bureaucratic conflict as a bold crusade. Of course, Woods could also have pointed out that 4-H actually honored former U.S. Attorney and good Democrat Randy Seiler for his pro bono legal work to help 4-H out of its Title IX jam. Did Kristi Noem ever get a belt buckle for her work for 4-H?

And while I hate to give right-wing fear and hate a platform, I’ll note that Woods goes on to contend that Noem is lying when she says her retread of the bill she vetoed is “the strongest law in the nation”:

Third, Gov. Noem’s ad claims that her new bill, which is similar to the one she essentially vetoed, is the “strongest law in the nation.” Well, this isn’t true either. It is a good bill, and I’m glad she’s bringing it. Women deserve protection from biological males stealing their titles and scholarships. But governors in states like Arkansas and Florida signed bills with much stronger legal options for harmed female athletes. So, let’s not kid ourselves. To top it off, the largest conservative law firm in the world, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), assisted with the bill language of last year’s women’s sports bill. One of the most well-respected legal organizations in the world would not be so careless as to support a bill that had such “economic, legal, and reputational threats” as Gov. Noem asserted.

My dad told me growing up that “you’re only as good as your word.” Well, Gov. Noem is only as good as hers [Woods, 2022.01.15].

I guess any time Kristi Noem claims to have “the strongest ___ in the nation,” we can assume she is lying. But don’t take my word for it; take the word of Caroline Woods, who actually worked for the Governor in Pierre.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-01-18

    Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-01-18

    The rightwing has become as bizarre as the 1970s leftwing was. These Woods characters sound a bit like Bob Avakian, who flitted around in various lefty groups and movements on the left coast before creating the Revolutionary Communist Party. If Noem isn’t enough of a fascist for you, there’s always another nutcase waiting in the right wings to announce an ultra-fascist position that you can support. You now need a program to keep track of all the kookiness out there on the right. Just as the left in the 1970s split in so many ways that you had a group for every leftist, that’s now true of the right. And all of them seem to want to put out statements attacking each other. Hey, I don’t mind that. It keeps them from beginning the “final solution” they have in mind for the sane folks. Noem is an idiot, but once you have used up all the superlative epithets on her, what can you call these even crazier folks out there? Idiotic idiots.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-01-18

    I wondered where Noem’s ad was hiding. I only saw it once and roam all over the internet looking for dirt on magats.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-18

    Well…all this nonsense is just more evidence that these decisions on the competitiveness of high school sports should be left in the purview of the South Dakota High School Activities Association where it has always resided. Get the politicians out of it as they care more about scoring political points than they do about the welfare of high school athletes. Its just an awful situation when we get these tin horn politicians who have never shot a free throw with the game on the line, making decisions that effect hard working athletes. The activities association is much closer to the lives of these athletes and knows the circumstances of each individual case. Let’s keep the conniving politicians at arms length from high school sports.

  5. RST Tribal Member 2022-01-18

    There was a time in December 1995, when 10 to 12 year girls from the Pine Ridge Reservation participated in a basketball tournament in Rapid City. The girls’ basketball team won the semi-final game. A game volunteer advised the team of a complaint that the girl’s team was too good therefore there must be boys on the team. The girls were forced to demonstrate that each was in fact a female to 2 volunteers in the nearest bathroom. Or, forfeit the game and go home. Dang, that’s sick. Just writing about the peek irks.

    Jumping forward to now, we learn the inept inbred Republicans want to peek. To question, are you a guy or gal by your human plumbing rather then take the person’s or the parent’s word for it. In 1995 it was a peek with pants down to prove gender. Today, the gender saviors concocted a bill cruising through the inept inbred Republican state political leadership to demand what was saw at birth not how the person feels later is what the gender should be.

    To harsh? Not if you are a young lady around 11 years old winning a game and there is a question about your gender not your skills or prep. Or a guy who is for all intent purposes is the opposite of his human plumbing and reproductive biology. In both situations the controlling authority wants a look.

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