A look at Governor Noem’s five Chiefs of Staff

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In November of 2018, then Governor-elect Kristi Noem announced her deputy campaign manager Herb Jones would serve as her Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office. Three years later, on November 19, 2021, it was announced that Noem’s general counsel, Mark Miller, would be stepping in to serve as interim Chief of Staff.

But the person Miller is replacing isn’t Jones.

Miller is replacing Aaron Schiebe; Schiebe replaced Tony Venhuizen; Venhuizen replaced Josh Shields; and Shields replaced Jones.

Noem’s administration is no stranger to turnover in top positions with changes to the positions of general counsel, Communications Director and senior advisor among others. But with five changes within three years, the position of Chief of Staff stands out.

In comparison, Noem’s predecessor, Dennis Daugaard had two Chiefs of Staff across his eight years in the Governor’s office: now U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson and Tony Venhuizen.

Meanwhile, Daugaard’s predecessor, Sen. Mike Rounds, had three Chiefs of Staff across his eight years in the Governor’s office: Rob Skjonsberg, Neil Fulton and Tom Dravland.

So who are the men who held this job in the Noem administration? Where did they come from and where did they go?


Herb Jones

Jones official began duties as Chief of Staff in January 2019 when Noem took office. By October 1 of that same year, he was gone.

As previously noted, Jones entered the Chief of Staff position by way of the role of deputy campaign manager for Noem. Jones has a lengthy history as an advisor to Republican politicians in South Dakota, having worked in the administrations of former Governors Bill Janklow, George Mickelson and Walter Miller.

In his own words, Jones notes on his Linked-in profile that he spent time working in governmental affairs form the Canadian Pacific Railroad from 2010 – March of 2018 and performed similar work in the same company from 2005 – 2010 when it was still known as the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad.

Jones had also served as Chief of Staff to then U.S. Rep. John Thune from 1996 – 2003, at which time he says he also worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Currently, Jones lists his employment as a consultant at HM Jones Consulting LLC, a government affairs consulting company based in Yankton.

Jones does not list his time as Chief of Staff under the Noem Administration on his profile.

Josh Shields

Shields took over the duties of Chief of Staff from Jones on Oct. 1, 2019. He had previously held the title of Noem’s chief of communications and policy development, which he began in December 2018. He left the administration in January 2020.

Following his exit from state politics, Shields became a founding partner of the Shields Group, a public affairs company. In June of 2020, he became senior vice president of government affairs & communications for POET.

Prior to his time in the Governor’s office, Shield’s Linked-in profile states that he worked as a manager of Governmental Affairs for Black Hills Energy from 2016 – December 2018.

Shields was no stranger to Noem by 2018 either, as he served as her campaign manager for her congressional campaigns in 2010 and from March 2015 – November 2016. He also served as her communications director while she was in the U.S. House from Jan. 2011 – Feb. 2012.

Shields also worked for Thune in a variety of capacities, ranging from research to legislative assistant and campaign manager, dating back to 2002.

Tony Venhuizen

Venhuizen is a man with experience in the Governor’s office, having served as Chief of Staff in the administration of his farther-in-law, Governor Dennis Daurgaard. Following Noem’s inauguration, Venhuizen served as outside counsel to Noem, and then came on officially in March 2020 as Chief of Staff.

Venhuizen stayed in this position for the balance of a year, leaving in April 2021. His departure came as Noem announced she would be appointing him to the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Venhuizen previously worked in politics as a member of Rounds’ 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns.

Aaron Scheibe

With the exit of Venhuizen, Scheibe stepped into the role of Chief of Staff on May 1, 2021.

Scheibe had previously worked in state government as an employee of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development from 2014 – 2019, and worked as a senior policy advisor to Noem in 2019.

In addition to these responsibilities, Scheibe also practiced as an attorney with the law firm Moreno, Bachand, Hruska & Scheibe from October 2019 – May 2021.

Scheibe, a Pierre native, brought with him some national qualifications, serving in the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Services Officer from 2002 – 2013, working in places such as Belarus and Azerbaijan.

Scheibe’s departure was announced November 19, 2021, and he will be move back to a role as an outside consultant advising on federal funds for coronavirus relief, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press.

Scheibe’s time as Chief of Staff lasted a little over 7 months.

Mark Miller

Miller will now be the fifth person to take up the mantel of Chief of Staff under Noem, serving in the interim as of now. Miller has served up until now as Noem’s general counsel and a member of her executive team. He also serves as the office’s “unborn child advocate.”

Prior to his time in South Dakota, Miller worked at the Pacific Legal Foundation in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, from 2014 – 2020.

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