The Governor may not be helping fill kids’ bellies, but she apparently is filling all of us full of baloney about the success of her pirated bad-plumber workforce recruitment campaign. Stu Whitney finds one of the individuals the Governor cited as an example of the success of her “Freedom Works Here” campaign is no such exemplar:
Bob Douglas, touted as a success story of Gov. Kristi Noem’s “Freedom Works Here” workforce recruitment campaign in South Dakota, confirmed a few things during a recent interview with News Watch.
The 66-year-old recreational vehicle salesman does enjoy freedom, it turns out. And he loves South Dakota. He plans to move to the Sioux Falls area once he sells his house in southern California, maybe as early as next spring. Douglas was referenced in a Sept. 21 press release from the governor’s office as having “recently moved to South Dakota.”
As for being heralded by the governor’s staff as an example of Noem’s $6.5 million ad campaign drawing new residents to the Mount Rushmore State, well, that’s not exactly true either.
“I wasn’t really aware of the campaign,” said Douglas, whose experience in the RV industry led to him being hired by Parkston-based Trailmanor as a West Coast representative in 2022. He was then named the company’s national sales and marketing director in April 2023, several months before the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) launched the Freedom Works Here effort [Stu Whitney, “‘Freedom’ Not Enough to Fill South Dakota Jobs: Local Business Leaders Say There Are Hurdles with Campaign,” South Dakota News Watch, 2023.11.27].
Among other details in his excellent and hefty report, Whitney offers a comment from Watertown economic development poobah Chris Clifton saying that when he asked the state for real data on the recruitment program, he got “gobbledygook”:
Several development officials said more work could have been done by GOED and the Department of Labor to filter data on the front end, such as itemizing by preference of community or profession. They also expressed surprise that they were asked to contribute to a campaign that they weren’t consulted on ahead of time and didn’t know much about until it launched.
“Before I made my way through the data, I wanted to know exactly what the Department of Labor did or what filtration they used,” said Clifton. “I got a bunch of gobbledygook that basically said, ‘We can’t tell you what we did, but we did all we could do.’ I’m a little suspicious about that because I’ve been involved in a lot of marketing campaigns that were very specific about impressions. There’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting on the back end to get this into a net result of who actually makes the move and takes a job” [Whitney, 2023.11.27].
Lies and gobbledygook—boy, Kristi Noem really is auditioning to work with Donald Trump!