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Flight Log 2019: Noem Flew Son, Nephews, Son’s Pal on State Plane the Weekend of Daughter’s Custer State Park Wedding

In 2006, you, good South Dakota voters, enacted Initiated Measure 5, proposed by economist Reynold Nesiba, to prohibit the Governor or any other state official from using state aircraft for anything other than state business. IM 5 is now part of SDCL 5-25-1.1:

Vehicles owned or leased by the state may be used only in the conduct of state business. No state officer or employee, except the Governor, law enforcement officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, law enforcement officers of the Division of Criminal Investigation, and conservation officers may use, or permit the use of, any state-owned motor vehicle other than in the conduct of state business. Nothing in this section prohibits any use of any state vehicle, if, in order to provide for the most efficient use of state equipment or personnel, supervisory personnel issue written instructions to any state employee to use a state vehicle for transportation:

  1. Between the employee’s permanent residence and work station; or
  2. Between the employee’s temporary residence or eating place and work station if assigned to a locality other than the employee’s permanent residence.

For purposes of this section, any aircraft owned or leased by the state may be used only in the conduct of state business. None of the exceptions listed above are applicable regarding the use of any aircraft owned or leased by the state or any of its agencies.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The violator is also subject to a civil action by the State of South Dakota in circuit court for the recovery of a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars plus ten times the cost incurred by the state for misuse of any aircraft owned or leased by the state. An action for the recovery of a civil penalty or compensatory damages shall, upon demand, be tried by a jury [emphasis mine; SDCL 5-25-1.1, last amended 2007].

On February 24, 2021, now-Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) asked the Attorney General to look into whether Governor Kristi Noem was violating SDCL 5-25-1.1 with her frequent flights for “personal use, out-of-state political campaigning, and attending partisan political events.” Then-highly distracted killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg sat on that complaint for seven months before punting it to the Government Accountability Board, which quietly discussed that complaint for ten more months before punting it back to the new Attorney General Mark Vargo, who apparently still hasn’t received formal notice from the GAB of its retro-punting.

While we wait for A.G. Vargo to find the file his predecessor must have left somewhere among the file cabinets, KELO-TV’s Jacob Newton publishes the flight logs and passenger manifests for state planes from January 2018 through August 2022 for our review of Noem travels that may violate SDCL 5-25-1.1.

Of particular interest is a flight of the state’s King Air 200 on May 30, 2019. The itinerary given is Pierre to Custer State Park, then to Vermillion and Aberdeen, back to Custer State Park, and back to Pierre. The passengers listed are Governor Noem, Noem’s senior advisor Beth Hollatz, Ryan Tennyson (possibly Highway Patrolman), Noem’s son Booker, Noem’s nephew Nash Grantham, Noem’s nephew Hunter Arnold, and Jack Ferguson. Jack Ferguson may be Jackson Ferguson, a friend of Booker who was attending Boys’ State in Aberdeen that week. Booker Noem, Grantham, Arnold, and Ferguson were all teenagers at the time, and none were state employees.

Noem’s daughter Kassidy married early Noem hire Kyle Peters at Custer State Park on June 1, 2019. Booker was one of six groomsmen.

Governor Noem told KELO-TV’s Don Jorgensen that the complaint about her use of the state plane “is just a political hit job because I was the only one who had balls enough to say this attorney general that killed a guy and left him in a ditch and lied about it and covered it up shouldn’t be the attorney general anymore.”

What really takes balls is flying four teenage boys to Custer State Park for a weekend wedding and claiming that’s “state business”.

The complaint about Governor Noem’s use of the state plane has nothing to do with unwisely blabbering Jason Ravnsborg and his deadly driving. The complaint is a simple question of law and of Noem’s actions. Unless Governor Noem can explain how those four boys were conducting state business on or about May 30, Governor Noem appears to have violated SDCL 5-25-1.1, a law the voters wrote to stop exactly this sort of misuse of public resources for personal pleasure, and may face a Class 2 misdemeanor charge and civil penalty for misuse of state aircraft… assuming the current Attorney General can find his paperwork and his balls.


  1. Jake 2022-09-08

    Ahhh, this governor(ness) has ‘balls?’ Greedy, manipulative, entitled, coward acting, and fearful-yes, but ‘balls ‘ by her own words? C’mon South Dakota, we can do much better than her for sure!

  2. larry kurtz 2022-09-08

    Throwing former governors under the bus then claiming she has more testosterone than they have is the BDE South Dakota Republicans expect from their executive.

  3. cathy 2022-09-08

    Didn’t Rounds get into trouble with his personal use of the state plane? If I remember correctly, he had to reimburse the state for his personal use. Noem’s balls…that phrase is ripe for memedom.

  4. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-09-08

    “When the presi-, oops-, GOVERNOR does it, that means it is not illegal.”
    The flight itinerary was interesting to me because I didn’t think Vermillion had an airport and wondered if the King Air landed out in the cow patties. Nope. Vermillion has the lovely Harold Davidson Field.
    I’m prompted daily to learn something new by the DFP.

  5. Donald Pay 2022-09-08

    If Noem has “balls” and identifies as female, she maybe ought to use the women’s bathroom from now on.

  6. leslie 2022-09-08

    Cory, confused-in-Colorado, but is the Madison Howard thread posted today because of the tie-in w/ Noem’s free plane ride to the friend for the wedding, and the person who initially contacted the Girls Stater concerning the photo of princess Noem?

  7. leslie 2022-09-08

    Sorry, no need to respond. My misunderstanding!

  8. Donald Pay 2022-09-08

    So, the creep who texted Madison Howard (probably at Noem’s urging) got a free plane ride at taxpayer expense for his hounding of Madison Howard? This inquisition of a high school student was instigated on the taxpayer funded plane trip?

  9. leslie 2022-09-08

    i think Rounds got his pilot’s instrument rating or something, using the taxpayer’s airplane

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-08

    The young men, in Governor Noem’s view WERE on state business. They were members of a Royal Wedding. The people of South Dakota should be pleased to pay their travel expenses. God Save the Queen.

  11. Donald Pay 2022-09-08

    The Royal Wedding and Nazi Party, apparently. Makes me sick all over again for Madison Howard, but she’s likely got a bright future ahead of her, while this Jackson clown and The Noem Inquisitors have to live with themselve. I can’t see how any self-respecting person can vote for that pig of a governor of yours.

  12. Jackilope 2022-09-08

    Hmmm, Gov. Noem. I don’t see balls but do see plenty of bull hockey.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-08

    The flight log does explain how Jackson Ferguson, who was supposed to be at Boys State, would have been privy to conversations of the Governor’s inner circle that would have allowed him to send his informed warning to Madison Howard. That these two instances of corruption are connected fascinates me.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-08

    Senator Nesiba says the complaint about Noem’s personal use of the state plane isn’t political gotcha; it’s just a request for law-abiding behavior and transparent government:

    “Maybe we just need to have a process by which this is routinely looked at either internally in the department of transportation or from Legislative Audit, to just do a review,” Nesiba said. “So this isn’t a political gotcha. It’s just an ongoing process of saying, you know, just a reminder, this is our state airplane, you should only use it for state business” [Jazzmine Jackson, “The 2006 Law at the Heart of Noem’s Plane Controversy,” KELO-TV, 2022.09.08].

  15. Jake 2022-09-08

    South Dakotans need to elect people to high office that have a mindset of “How is THIS gonna look to the general public” when tempted to overstep the lines of ‘SD Common Sense” and proper behavior! Isn’t that what Rounds campaigned so hard on for Senate? Taking SD ‘Common Sense’ to Washington? So far, with his favorable silences over trump’s actions and the constant “Big Lie” hanging out there, Rounds is trying to hide from scrutiny somewhere in the GOP background. But when he went to Spearfish (a ‘safe’ stop), he got a surprise didn’t he?
    Noem’s whole mantra is following her golden idol guy-the MAGA snake.

  16. grudznick 2022-09-08

    Make no mistake, Mr. Nesiba is all about political gotcha. He is about nothing else.

    But what fun for those young men. If grudznick wasn’t terrible afraid of those little jets I’d be tickled to have a ride in one. I’m sure those young fellows didn’t cost any more to ride in the plane than if the plane was flying empty, other than they drank a soda or 3 and ate a few extra packs of peanuts. That’s nothing different than you’d be offered if you visited the Governor’s office or had a meeting with her, I’m sure.

  17. mike from iowa 2022-09-08

    Go visit Noem the Liar and you’d likely get fed a line of Bull Pucky.

  18. Kurt Evans 2022-09-08

    Governor Noem says:

    … this is just a political hit job because I was the only one who had balls enough to say this attorney general that killed a guy and left him in a ditch and lied about it and covered it up shouldn’t be the attorney general anymore.

    If the governor really believes she was the only one bold (or balled) enough to say that, she apparently needs more contact with the outside world. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people said that.

    Joe Boever took nearly a month’s worth of the psychotropic drug lorazepam in less than 36 hours, disabled his truck by smashing it into a bale beside the highway hard enough to force the grille guard back into the grille, left town on foot after dark, didn’t ask anyone for a ride, declined a ride offered by a passing motorist, and never told anyone why he was out there.

    Jason Ravnsborg looked down at the speedometer as he was transitioning between speed zones, and Joe entered the driving lane to commit suicide. Joe’s impact with the extreme right side of the car angled it suddenly onto the shoulder, and Jason reflexively swerved back to the left before he could even process what was happening.

    The collision ten feet outside the white line happened when Joe’s body came off the hood. That’s why all of the blood from that collision was on the bottom right side of the car, with none of it on the top of the car. It didn’t angle the car into the ditch because Joe’s body already had westward momentum and because Jason was already swerving back to the left.

    Governor Noem’s DPS secretary and rabid Marty Jackley supporter Craig Price says Jason just happened to be driving ten feet outside the white line at the precise location of a late-night pedestrian who’d taken nearly a month’s worth of lorazepam in less than 36 hours. As Marty Jackley is presumably capable of figuring out, that would have been a mind-bending freak coincidence if it had really happened.

    In a flagrant abuse of power, Secretary Price also released information taken out of context from Jason’s personal text messages, unrelated to any investigation, to smear him in the media and prejudice public opinion against him.

    Jason didn’t commit the crime of illegal lane change because Joe’s impact with the extreme right side of the car is what angled it onto the shoulder. That means the first article of impeachment was false.

    Jason didn’t make a direct misrepresentation to the 911 dispatch officer because the path of a vehicle near the middle of its lane is commonly called the middle of the road. That means the second article of impeachment was false.

    Why would Governor Noem say the collision on the extreme right side of the car, which was allegedly traveling over 60 miles per hour roughly a foot from the edge of the pavement, didn’t angle it into the ditch?

    Why would she say the amputation of Joe’s leg didn’t leave any blood on the top of the car?

    How would she say someone knew to add Scott Odenbach to the billboard attacking Jason’s supporters in the legislature before Representative Odenbach’s involvement became public?

    Did she ask Joe Desilets to resign?

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-08

    Kurt says one useful sentence right after his quote: Lots of us were saying Ravnsborg needed to go. To suggest that it took balls, let alone Noem’s unique “balls”, to declare that Ravnsborg was unfit for office is to suggest that South Dakota has a much greater moral problem created by the one-party regime.

    Alas, Noem shared her party’s general ballslessness in nominating Ravnsborg in 2018 in the first place and then electing him instead of voting for competent and experienced prosecutor Randy Seiler.

    Everything Kurt says after that, like Noem’s own dodge, has nothing to do with the complaint against Noem’s illegal use of the state plane for personal affairs.

  20. RST Tribal Member 2022-09-08

    “I have the balls”, slipped from her lips like the alley cat she become with Washington consultants handling her in various places outside the state of stone faces.

    Looks like she is blazing with her, I mean the state’s, plane. Without pause or eye blink she mislead, almost outright lied. Now that takes some balls.

    There seems to be gender confusion going on in the one house gated community in the most corrupt town in the state. 45 better grab the ball proclaiming fool before he decides where in the political swinger club she will be placed. Excepting one thing and grabbing something else could be unsettling, something the FBI found out a few weeks ago while doing a court order visit to the house of 45.

    The state voters have an opportunity to end the clown show in November 2022. Let’s put her out to pasture to avoid having to answer the question, “does she or doesn’t she”.

  21. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-09-08

    Oh, just go away, grudz. That was not a jet, it was a TurboProp. Kristi BELIEVES and DEMANDS she deserves a jet, but SD has so far not succumbed to her blandishments or her “beguiling and womanly behavior.” (AKA she’s a nasty, shrewish c*nt and demands goods and services she’s not entilted to.)
    Other contributors and I are delighted to read your opinion of these overpriveleged white boys having a “fun” time on non-sanctioned and illegal flights.
    Do you ever think before you type your crap?

  22. Kurt Evans 2022-09-08

    Cory writes:

    Everything Kurt says after [his first sentence], like Noem’s own dodge, has nothing to do with the complaint against Noem’s illegal use of the state plane for personal affairs.

    Your claim that Governor Noem’s dodge has nothing to do with the complaint is absurd, and for the record, you included that allegedly irrelevant dodge in the original post.

    Sincere thanks for covering both the governor’s impeachable misuse of the state plane and her lies about it.

  23. grudznick 2022-09-08

    I think deeply about goats, Ms. Fairbank. And then I get them.

  24. leslie 2022-09-08

    Noem took advantage of the state’s silver bird? King Air’s often do have lots of glitter. Soda’s and nuts,grdz?

    2019: “Pierre to Custer State Park, then to Vermillion and Aberdeen, back to Custer State Park, and back to Pierre.” I’m gonna be air sick. Wedding party! State airplane!! Son’s friend, the “Bro” on board!!! Sometime here, Bro rats on Ms. Howard!!!! Governor gets STEAMED.

    2020: “ Ravnsborg…struck and killed a pedestrian…. Noem publicly called for Ravnsborg to resign and later pressed the Legislature to impeach him….” AP link

    2021: The “previous attorney general…sat on the complaint [alleging Noem’s state airplane misuse]…for seven months before…GAB sat on it for nearly eleven months before punting it back to the attorney general…the new top cop, Mark Vargo” who is still waiting on procedural notice.

    2022: Noem’s Republican grab-them-by-the-pussy comment was about her use of the state plane and the complaint “is just a political hit job because I was the only one who had balls enough to say this attorney general that killed a guy and left him in a ditch and lied about it and covered it up shouldn’t be the attorney general anymore.”

    Enough delay, and Noem, like Trump, could skate. Such utter incompetence and grift.

  25. Loren 2022-09-09

    Well, look at it this way. Kristi won’t be getting any speeding tickets if she is using the state plane. :-)

  26. Randy Eugene Amundson 2022-09-09

    What this is all about is her defiance of the Republican establishment in Pierre. They wanted to minimize the Ravnsborg incident. She didn’t. Let’s see here. She was probably at Boy’s State in Aberdeen in an official capacity. She quite possibly had “official” state business in West River. Is there any function that a sitting governor attends that isn’t official state business? I think not. Only in an election year, and only when the opposition party has nothing else to run on. I, and most of the people in this state couldn’t care less whether or not 4 boys rode on the plane. It is up to those who oppose Noem to prove that she did not perform an official state function during any of the stops of this flight.

  27. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-09-09

    I wonder how many other aircraft, in the air and on the ground, had their legitimate schedules affected by this stupid, selfish, and illegal joy ride.

    And Leslie is correct; enough stalling and Kristi will never have to pay fines for this misuse of a state vehicle. (“We said NO personal checks, ya moron. Come back by COB today with a bank check or money order or contempt might apply.”)

  28. Sonia Jenner 2022-09-09

    I am interested in why Ben Kosti was on several of the flights, is he employed by the Queen of Rodeos? He is from Lake Norden and last I heard he taught golf to students , I can think of no reason for him to be on flights unless the queen hired him for some part of government that we don’t know about.Was he part of the wedding party? I can think of no reason other then her daughters wedding that she was flying around misusing the state plane and even if the fine is like a slap on the wrist she should in her words “ have the balls”to admit it and the other times she used the plane for personal use

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-09

    Sure, Randy. So what official state business were the boys conducting on that flight?

  30. larry kurtz 2022-09-09

    It’s the state’s plane but hangared in Pierre for the ambassador governor to use. It’s a perk of the office, ffs. Our governor does it, too because New Mexico is 80% bigger than South Dakota is (with only 33 counties, btw). Mrs. Noem’s campaign reimburses for some of it, right?

  31. larry kurtz 2022-09-09

    The shakedown of the appraiser official seems like a far more grievous offense.

  32. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-09-09

    This thread is endlessly fascinating, mostly because I’m ignoring nasty chores while reading it.

    Using, the State’s King Air 200’s itinerary (Pierre to Custer S.P. to Vermillion to Aberdeen to Custer S.P., and, finally, back to Pierre) covered 1,156 air miles.

    Just for comparison, using air miles calculator, it’s 1,206 miles from Pierre to LA., 970 to Las Vegas, 1,232 to San Francisco, 983 to Phoenix, 1,037 to San Antonio, and 1,077 to Baton Rouge. But, by gosh, these 1,156 air miles were all accomplished in this Great State so no harm no foul – all trivia.

  33. Kurt Evans 2022-09-09

    Larry Kurtz writes:

    The shakedown of the appraiser official seems like a far more grievous offense.

    It seems to me that parents are generally prone to empathize with a fellow parent who overreacts because she feels one of her children has been mistreated. Many people might also be inclined to let the rules bend for a child’s wedding.

    Wasting South Dakota’s public funds on cross-country flights for blatantly partisan political purposes seems more difficult to overlook.

  34. leslie 2022-09-09

    rea-pls talk to your governor, it was a wedding party for cripes sake! pay for your own family wedding! She taught Jack her Trumpist Republican principles as a juvenal. And he learned to be the Governor’s HIT “BRO”. Graft AND Old Boy networking. Educators do not do this to our children. Remember Trump was best friends of Geslaine and her late joy boy.

  35. Gerard 2022-09-29

    Governor Noem is so used to receiving and using government funds for herself and family that she now feels entitled to the benefits, even if it is illegal. So far her and family have raked in over $5.2M over the years of government subsidies and benefits.

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