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Government Accountability Board Letting Noem Decide Its Action on Nepotism Complaint?

AP’s Stephen Groves, whose September 2020 reporting broke the story of Governor Kristi Noem’s intimidation and firing of veteran South Dakota appraisal certification chief Sherry Bren in retaliation for the failure of Noem’s daughter to pass her appraiser’s exam, reports that the uncertainty surrounding the Government Accountability Board’s ruling on that nepotism case this week may depend on what Noem chooses to do next:

The state’s Government Accountability Board appears to be letting Noem decide whether to defend herself in a public hearing or simply accept an “appropriate action” that the board hasn’t detailed. It presents Noem with a choice: Stick to her defense that she has done nothing wrong and fight the allegations in a public hearing or let the matter quietly die while accepting the board’s action.

…“We’ll have to wait until the governor’s office makes a decision,” said Gene Kean, a current member of the Government Accountability Board who was appointed after serving more than two decades as a state circuit court judge and chairing the state Judges Association. “That’s sort of a linchpin in this thing” [Stephen Groves, “SD Gov. Kristi Noem Weighs Response to Ethics Complaints,” AP, 2022.08.24].

Wait a minute: what board action, and what decision by the Governor? According to the August 22 minutes, the Government Accountability Board dismissed unknown charges in the technically still secret complaint relating to misuse of public funds in the appraiser/nepotism scandal, but the board said the complaint “alleges facts sufficient to constitute a violation of SDCL 3-24-3” relating to conflicts of interest and malfeasance. The board says “appropriate action pursuant to Rule A.(c) has been taken” and the complaint as it relates to conflicts of interest and malfeasance “should be closed subject to the board’s discretion to reopen the file, if it deems appropriate.”

Rule A.(c) appears to refer to an initial stage prior to investigation, but if the GAB is telling us they’ve discussed these complaints at seven meetings over the last ten months and haven’t actually started investigating the nepotism complaint, someone needs to light a fire under the members. If they have investigated the nepotism complaint and determined “that there is sufficient information to believe that a statewide office holder… has engaged in misconduct related to any subdivision of § 3-24-3,” SDCL 3-24-7 dictates one action: “the board shall conduct a contested case hearing….” There is no decision for the subject of the complaint—in this case, the Governor—to make. There’s no plea bargain. The board holds a public contested hearing. In this case, if a majority of the board concludes that the Governor did something wrong, the board reprimands her or orders her to take courses or do community service. (There is a third option, to “make a specific recommendation to the Governor,” but that option envisions the Governor taking action against some other infractive state office holder or Executive Branch employee.)

I know it’s the Government Accountability Board’s first time in its five-year existence taking any complaint to this stage. But Accountability is literally this board’s middle name, and it’s tough to have accountability when when there’s no clear account of the board’s actions:

John Pelissero, a scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said it’s “unusual” for an ethics board not to publicly announce the action it takes against an accused official.

“It lacks transparency if they do not announce the level of accountability,” he said. “That has the potential to undermine the public’s confidence in the accountability board and in state government generally” [Groves, 2022.08.24].

Government Accountability Board, the law doesn’t seem to let you leave your responses to corruption up to the choice of the subjects of complaints before you. Your originating intent certainly does not give you such leeway. Please make clear to the public the conclusion you have reached and the action you intend to take to investigate and punish the corruption you hare suggesting may have happened.


  1. grudznick 2022-08-25 18:36

    Nothing to see here, save some disgruntled libbies and whackadoodles. Move along, you’re blocking the aisle.

  2. O 2022-08-25 18:45

    Good heavens, now we need a Government Accountability Board Accountability Board? Can’t ANYONE just do their job?

  3. larry kurtz 2022-08-25 18:45

    The Noem campaign bought off an ethics board? What a shocker.

  4. grudznick 2022-08-25 18:52

    The GABAB will be based in Belle.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-08-25 18:56

    Grudzilla, the Number One Noem enabler in the world. There is no crfime commitable by a magat pol that Grudzilla won’t blame out of state Libbies for. Positively disgusting deplorably pathetic.

  6. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-08-25 19:08

    Well, Cory, they ARE all Reptilians, and Kristi Lynn “sure is a cutie.” I’m tired of repeating male Reptilian voters in South Dakota, but, here we are, nonetheless. Are board members recompensed in bjs and rjs?

  7. Guy 2022-08-25 19:08

    In other words: Kristi Noem is above. The law applies to everyone else, except the law does not apply to Kristi Noem. Yep, that is the definition of a queen. It appears South Dakota is literally ruled by a queen.

  8. Mark Winegar 2022-08-25 19:09

    The facts speak for themselves and are well known to Annie who has been casually watching the news.

  9. oldtimerDon 2022-08-25 19:15

    If this is the extent of government accountability in SD, then save taxpayers money and shutter Pierre offices. There is no functioning government at this time.

  10. grudznick 2022-08-25 19:22

    Ms. Fairbank, what in Satan’s name is a “rj”?

  11. Guy 2022-08-25 19:28

    oldtimerDon, in South Dakota it appears we have Queen, or “Tsar” Kristi and her “Duma” (most of our state legislature).

  12. Mark 2022-08-25 20:28

    Grudz, the R is for Rim. Go ahead and google it. If Kristi was unfamiliar with the procedure, my guess is the Big Lew helped her out.

  13. grudznick 2022-08-25 20:31

    And Ms. Fairbank finds this behavior to be pleasurable? I am beyond disgusted and disappointed.

  14. DaveFN 2022-08-25 20:35

    The governing authority of the monarch via the notion of the Divine Right of Kings ended in England in 1688 with the Glorious Revolution.

    Noem missed that chapter of history and so did the GAB of South Dakota.

  15. O 2022-08-25 21:20

    But oldtimerDon, if we shuttered the offices, on whose dime and from what cache of fame would Gov. Nome have to whistle stop this great nation and toss her pearls of wisdom? South Dakota created a celebrity.

  16. Bob Newland 2022-08-25 21:32

    Haysooce, Mary and Jose’,

  17. larry kurtz 2022-08-25 21:35

    Bob, unblock me from your Faceberg page.

  18. All Mammal 2022-08-25 21:52

    And these people have good jobs and have raised entire families. They have nice yards and manage to wear laundered pants when they leave their respectable homes. I am genuinely amazed everyday how they got by without accidentally suffocating on plastic bags or becoming strung up in the cord on their living room blinds. They got by all right. How?! Work should have to be performed to get paid. If everything is exactly the same, no work got done.

  19. P. Aitch 2022-08-26 11:12

    Is it The Imagine Accountability Board? Imagine what punishment your Governor should receive and that’s enough accountability? But, Imagine what accountability will be demanded from Governor Jamie Smith. The same “kid glove” treatment? Hmmmm ….. ?

  20. John 2022-08-26 14:12

    Accountability? From the republicans? Be. Still. My. Heart.
    There was no accountability after the EB-5 debacle.
    There was little accountability concerning the “republican operative” Erickson’s wire fraud and money laundering.
    There was no accountability concerning the SD republicans “love affair” with Russian agent Maria Butina, even Dusty skated free from accountability.
    There was little accountability concerning the Gear Up education scandal.
    Expect no republican accountability for allowing Russian agents in Mar-A-Largo: (Note the photo with the election-denier and likely treasonous Senator Graham.)
    Expect no republican accountability for allowing a Russian agent to befriend and become intimate with the staff of the NATO Joint Allied Force Command Headquarters in Italy:
    There was no accountability for Senator (GQP-Moscow) Thune’s July 4, 2018 trip to Moscow.

    Noem will continue holding herself above the law and/or ethics.

  21. scott 2022-08-26 14:54

    I’m betting this accountability board will be axed in the 2023 legislative session. They will even put an emergency clause so it takes effect immediately after Noem signs it. Drag this out long enough into 2023 and then it will just go away and Noem will be in the clear. (I’m assume Noem will get reelected.)

  22. flopster 2022-08-26 16:30

    Maybe the SDak govt offices ought to be super careful regarding its documents (think nepotism/plane use debacle).
    Since kn is so ga-ga over Trump & his ways, wouldn’t surprise us if documents regarding nepotism/plane use come up missing in Pierre.

  23. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-26 16:33

    still have some faith in the Government Accountability Board though John and Scott’s comments cannot be criticized. We can only judge by past performance. On the Bren case the ball is in Governor Noem’s court now. If she chooses a public hearing, her laundry will be washed and she must accept the decision of the Board. If she stands down, then she must accept the ruling of the Board that she did SOMETHING involving malfeasance. The State Plane issue is more cut and dried. I don’t see a whitewash here.

  24. John 2022-08-26 17:09

    Scott, agree – if Noem’s re-elelcted the legislature will end the GAB. If Smith becomes governor the lapdog legislature will retain the GAB.

  25. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-08-26 20:24

    The key word is accountability. Noem will never be held accountable. The best us libbies can hope for is for her to “fade away and radiate.”

    That’s not even proven, because Palin is STILL parading her ghastly carcass and brainless head around.

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