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Noem Shifts Staff Bloat from Capitol to Campaign, Loses Another Imported Flunky

What’s harder: running South Dakota, or running for reëlection in South Dakota as a Republican against a Democrat?

The answer for Kristi Noem should be running South Dakota. Beating Democratic candidate Jamie Smith and Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint should be a trivial matter of showing up for a few parades, batting her Snow Queen eyelashes, joining the chants of “Let’s Go Brandon,” and—done! elected 60–40.

It’s governing that busts Kristi’s chops. Despite her party’s domination of state government, Noem seems to have an extraordinarily hard time passing legislation, crafting effective policy, winning even trivial court cases, and avoiding corruption. Focusing for more than a decade on winning elections has left her without the skills to govern effectively.

But instead of improving her governing skills and surrounding herself with competent policy advisors, Noem is expanding her campaign staff to help her put more lipstick on the pig of her record. She’s pulling two state employees out of the Second Floor and putting them to work on her campaign:

Two members of Governor Kristi Noem’s administration are taking a leave of absence — to work on her re-election campaign. Communications director Ian Fury and director of operations Ben Koisti will be moving to paid positions on Noem’s campaign beginning on June 24.

…Fury indicated that he and Koisti will be with the campaign through November and plan to return to the administration after the election. Fury clarified that he and Koisti’s leave from state government will be unpaid.

Filling in for Fury in the interim will be DPS spokesperson Tony Mangan [Jacob Newton, “Noem Staff Moving from Admin to Campaign,” KELO-TV, 2022.06.17].

Fury says Mangan will continue to do his DPS duties as well, suggesting that whatever work Fury’s been doing for $127,500 a year is really just part-time. As for Koisti’s work scheduling Noem’s husband Bryon, well, we’ve seen how vitally important that work has been for the Republic.

But what real value is there for these flunkies to add to Noem’s reëlection campaign? Pre-primary, Noem had 70 times as much cash on hand as Smith ($7.8M vs. $110K); in the three weeks leading up to the primary, Noem outraised Smith 10 to 1.

But I suppose Kristi has to spend all that money on something, and she can’t be seen writing checks to Corey Lewandowski. The Noem campaign may be down one man: it’s been nearly two months since the rumored firing of Noem’s out-of-state campaign manager Joe Desilets. Desilets still labels himself as Noem’s campaign leader on his online profiles, but he hasn’t appeared as the media contact on a Noem campaign press release since April 11.

Meanwhile, the guy Noem hired last year from Texas to direct her gubernatorial communications is leaving state government as well, permanently. Noem spent $30K on a Republican consultant from Kansas just to find Jordan Overturf, who bragged on his Instagram that he “left Texas for a state with more rodeos, more cowboys, and more freedom.” Overturf, whose duties appeared to dwindle from lying on mic to adjusting the flag, evidently found all this freedom overwhelming:

In other news, Jordan Overturf will return to Texas to take on a “new opportunity,” and live closer to family. His last day with the Governor’s Office will be Tuesday, July 5 and Fury wrote, “We will miss him and wish him the best!” [Kesia Cameron, “Staffing Shifts in the Capitol Building, Noem’s Campaign Underway,” KSFY, 2022.06.17]

Reducing her own executive staff by three FTEs makes clear that Noem has bloated the Executive Branch with people who aren’t there to do real policy or public service but just to prop up her image. Moving two of those posers to her campaign at least honestly states Noem’s selfish priorities. But it also emphasizes what a sloppy gravy train her perpetual million-dollar cross-country campaign must be. If Noem needs to cannibalize her official staff and bulk up her campaign to battle Jamie Smith, the Democratic candidate may be making more progress among voters than conventional wisdom would suggest.

9 Comments

  1. Bob Newland 2022-06-19

    My heart pauses in anticipation of the Snow Queen’s next exciting staff shuffle.

  2. All Mammal 2022-06-19

    Yes, be still, my heart. What, oh what, will the next move of our dastardly, turgid, blowed out, over-boiled ballpark frank lipped governor be? Shall she next get an imported flunky from, perhaps our fellow oppressed, apartheid boasting state of Oklahoma? Pray tell.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-19

    I think the movement of Tony Mangan, with many years as a law enforcement flack to the Governor’s office is of interest. He will be answering questions about the report coming from the Government Accountability Board using that experience. He’ll need it.

  4. sdslim 2022-06-19

    As posted in the Argus—————
    Um, let’s see —- she has raised over 15 million and has about 9 million on hand in her war chest in a basically uncontested election —– so she can reward these staffers by having them take a “leave of absence” and draw very large salaries from the campaign for a few months, and then get their old jobs back. Brilliant way to get around the rules of campaign finance —– and reward the loyalists!

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-19

    Curious, sdslim: Is loyalty all that she’s rewarding? Are these two young guys, these relative newbies to Team Kristi, really the most loyal people in her circle and the most deserving of campaign war chest gravy? Are there no other senior advisers who deserve equal or greater favors?

  6. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-19

    Cory–but isn’t it true that Governor Noem quickly tires of those around here. Maybe she is sending that fatal femme message, “You bore me….find the door.

  7. grudznick 2022-06-19

    The four hundred thousand dollar salaries these boys will earn do probably not compensate them enough for these duties.

  8. Curt 2022-06-19

    Our Cory references the Governess’s “other senior advisors”. She still has her Corey, right? Does he not have senior status?

  9. larry kurtz 2022-06-20

    The ability to adapt to an ethics-free environment in a state with an eight month winter and a lobotomized religionist legislature on a crusade is integral to writing the introduction to a CV bound for any Republican candidates inbox.

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