Kristi Noem promised us transparency. She also promised to fight “divisive concepts” like her campaign-driven misconception of critical race theory. But now when we ask to see the report she ordered in April on “divisive concepts” that might be lurking in anything the Department of Education says or does, she forgets transparency and hides the report:
The governor’s office hasn’t decided whether the public should get to see a report on whether inherently divisive concepts, such as Critical Race Theory, are present in South Dakota’s K-12 school systems.
Instead, the governor’s general counsel, Katie Hruska, said in a letter Thursday that “10 additional business days” were still needed on the matter.
KELOLAND News requested a copy on July 7. Hruska said the report would be treated as a public record request under South Dakota legal chapter 1-27.
The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee independently requested a copy on Wednesday, July 20.
Mary Stadick Smith, deputy secretary for the department, told lawmakers that day the report was “an internal document” but she left open the possibility they would receive copies [Bob Mercer, “Noem’s Lawyer: CRT Report Is Now ‘Public Record Request’,” KELO-TV, 2022.07.22].
Double baloney. The report in question is no internal document. The Governor gets internal documents by calling her Education Secretary and asking, not by signing a big fat executive order and issuing a press release. Noem very loudly and publicly ordered this report to (generous interpretation) alert the public that they would get to see the examples of “divisive concepts” she’s been warning us about all year and (realistic interpretation) to boost her very public campaign for national conserva-stardom.
The fact that Noem is now asking her lawyer to spend all month seeing if she can come up with an excuse to keep this publicly ordered and ballyhooed report secret suggests that the Department of Education didn’t find any critical race theory or other “divisive concepts” for the Governor to fight.
But hey, Kristi, why not spare yourself another losing lawsuit (because Mercer and KELO-TV are surely talking to their lawyer about what to do if you keep hiding this report)? Release the “divisive concepts” catalog you told us all about, and let the voters see just what windmills you are tilting at.