Since the beginning of her administration, Governor Kristi Noem has given lots of plum to the Redstone Law Firm of Sioux Falls run by her favorite South Dakota super-lobbyist Matt McCaulley. But Governor Noem kicked off this new year by canceling one of Redstone’s state contracts, its $39,000 contract to serve as legal counsel for the Office of the Governor:
Redstone has provided legal and legislative consulting services throughout her gubernatoriat. Open.SD.Gov lists three other state contracts with Redstone—$100,000 with the Bureau of Administration to provide legal services to all Executive Branch departments, boards, and commissions; $46,040 with the Department of Education to lobby for the Board of Technical Education and the technical colleges; and $15,000 with the Department of Education to serve as an independent hearing officer for the Secretary of Education—that are not marked terminated. And McCaulley himself is still serving as a paid lobbyist for twelve other entities during the 2023 Session. So McCaulley and his partners won’t be hurting for cash (or Bitcoin: one of McCaulley’s lobbying clients is Big Watt Digital, which plans to build a fake-money computer center to gobble up 12.5 megawatts of electricity a year twelve miles west of Onida).
But what might have changed on January 5 that would have led to the cancellation of Redstone’s contract to serve as Noem’s legal counsel? Marty Jackley was sworn in as Attorney General on January 7; perhaps with incompetent killer Jason Ravnsborg impeached and removed from office and really really busy six-month appointee Mark Vargo gone back to Pennington County, Noem decided she no longer needed to outsource her lawyering to the private sector.
Or maybe with a national campaign kicking into gear, Noem has decided she has to bring in big legal guns from outside the state to keep her out of hot water. The Governor’s Office maintains active contracts for legal services with Schaerr Jaffe of Washington, D.C. ($40K, signed November 18, 2022) and Morgan Lewis and Bockius of Philadelphia ($14K, signed October 28, 2022). Those current out-of-state lawyer contracts are small potatoes compared previous legal services contracts her office has inked with outside law firms: Dorsey and Whitney of Des Moines ($290K, signed July 15, 2020, to work on agrisocialism), Gibson Dunn and Crutcher of Los Angeles ($250K, signed November 12, 2020, to work on the quickly scuttled Sanford/Intermountain merger), and Consovoy McCarthy of Arlington, Virginia ($300K, signed April 26, 2021, to work on Noem’s Rushmore fireworks lawsuit).