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Vargo Appoints Hughes County Prosecutor LaMie to Handle Noem State Plane Ethics Complaint

Holy cow—the Government Accountability Board released 23 documents this morning relating to the ethics complaints against Governor Kristi Noem. The documents evidently show that Governor Noem tried to shut down the ethics panel’s investigation of her nepotism. Thank you, Judges Gienapp, Kean, and Wilbur for filling my weekend reading list; I’ll have analysis of those documents later.

The GAB must also have finally released its official notice to Attorney General Mark Vargo that it is punting the complaint about Governor Noem’s alleged misuse of the state plane back to the Attorney General’s office. Attorney General Vargo has finally affirmed the wisdom of Representative and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith and handed  that investigation to a special prosecutor:

The investigation and any decision regarding charges will be overseen by Hughes County States Attorney Jessica LaMie.

…Noem appointed Attorney General Mark Vargo to his post in June, so to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Vargo requested LaMie take the lead in overseeing DCI’s investigation.

Because the investigation is on-going, the AG’s office will not release any reports or evidence concerning the complaint until the investigation is complete [Jody Heemstra, “Hughes County State’s Attorney to Oversee Investigation into Gov. Noem,” DRG News, 2022.09.09].

Hughes County promoted LaMie from deputy state’s attorney to full S.A. two years ago. LaMie went to USD for undergrad but got her law degree from Hamline in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is running uncontested as a Republican on this November’s ballot for a full term as state’s attorney.


  1. jkl 2022-09-09 15:46

    I think we all have the same question: Does LaMie count against Minnesota’s brain drain into SD?

  2. grudznick 2022-09-09 16:29

    Much meaningless ado.

    But I just bet you a gravy-laden breakfast they released this trove of secret documents on the opening weekend of NFL pigskin extravaganzas intentionally.

  3. jerry 2022-09-09 16:40

    Lock her up

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-09 17:08

    I’m satisfied that the retired judges on the GAB have done their job thoroughly and in good faith. They are not a court. They are not charged with finding guilt or innocence. They act a bit like a Grand Jury and have referred their findings to the Attorney General’s office as is their duty if they find evidence of malfeasance. Apparently, for the time being, anyway, they did not refer any findings on the Sherry Bren-Kassidy Peters-Governor Noem affair. In South Dakota, we give the Governor complete authority to manage, as she sees fit, the Executive branch and its’ employees. The Legislature could, by passing regulatory statutes, intervene but to this point in time has not. The Governor acts as Royalty when it comes to Executive Branch operations.

  5. bearcreekbat 2022-09-09 17:49

    GAC Exhibit Q – “Press Conference” with Stephen Groves and Exhibit R – “Rotary Club” Transcript of Noem’s defenses, are remarkable examples of what might be considered classic “word salad” dishes straight from the horse’s mouth that can help the reader assess Noem’s intellectal capacity.

  6. bearcreekbat 2022-09-09 17:51

    and credibility

  7. 96Tears 2022-09-09 20:42


  8. Bob Newland 2022-09-09 21:55

    Strap in. We might see some stuff reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre of Nixon-era fame.

  9. DaveFN 2022-09-09 23:01

    So someone who has an apparent conflict of interest is the very one who passes the ball to someone else—who supposedly is without conflict of interest.

    Supposedly without but yet directly connected with the original person who had the apparent conflict of interest, or the former person would not have been so designated.

    Really oddball system which thinks it sanctifies itself by such a procedure and thereby claims to clear itself from any “appearance of impropriety.”

  10. leslie 2022-09-09 23:13

    bc-you got it the 1st time!

  11. DaveFN 2022-09-09 23:14

    Apostolic succession of conflict of interest….

    Gotta ask.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-10 10:34

    JKL, I’m not sure: LaMie got her undergrad at USD, so I think she counts as one of our brains originally.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-10 10:37

    DaveFN, in South Dakota, where everyone lives at a maximum of two degrees of separation, it may be impossible to erase every hint of conflict of interest. LaMie has her job because her old boss, Hammond, went to work for Vargo in Rapid City.

  14. Spike 2022-09-10 13:21

    Vargo should have appointed Tatewin Means… Stanford engineering degree, University of Minnesota law degree. Former attorney general for the Oglala Tribe… and all around smart as a whip no bs adult. No relation to any of the above mentioned lawyers club.

    Oh I am sorry…. thought we were talking about a replacement for our college drop out anti federal/take every dollar they give us fake resume fabricating SDSU free degree governor.

    This has become a wait them out pass the buck nothing burger. typical of this state.

  15. Jake 2022-09-10 14:21

    Next question-will there be a “decision” made on BOTH matters BEFORE the election–at the least 2 wks before?

  16. larry kurtz 2022-09-10 17:40

    Spike knows Ms. Means’ legal plate is overflowing but the sentiment is lost on none of us.

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