SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s Attorney General has passed lawmaker concerns stemming from an apparent meeting involving Gov. Kristi Noem, her daughter Kassidy Peters and the former director of the state’s Appraiser Certification Program onto the Government Accountability Board.
“In response to questions and concerns from a number of legislators and citizens who reached out to me I have referred the issue to the Government Accountability Board,” Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in an emailed statement.
Last week, Ravnsborg’s office announced he was reviewing concerns from lawmakers. Ravnsborg also sent a February request from Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) to investigate whether Noem had violated state law by flying on the state airplane to events hosted by political organizations onto the state’s Government Accountability Board.
South Dakota’s Government Accountability Board was created in 2017 and is made up of four former judges, who are appointed by the governor. Currently serving are former South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson, David Gienapp, Gene Kean and Lori Wilbur.
According to the most recent board minutes, the group last met on May 17. The group is tasked with reviewing and investigating “allegations of misconduct by certain people: 1. Any person holding a statewide office; 2. Any employee of the executive branch of the State of South Dakota government.”
Last week, Noem took to YouTube and Twitter on Friday to further defend her daughter’s certification as a real estate appraiser and her role in the matter. She criticized South Dakota’s past process for licensing real estate appraisers as “way too difficult” and spoke about what she’s been doing as governor to make it easier.
The Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota (PAASD) told KELOLAND News appraisers in the state were “trying to find more details on this just like the rest of the citizens of South Dakota.” Sandra Gresh, the organization’s current president, said she’s hoping the federal government’s Appraisal Subcommittee, which monitors each state’s appraiser licensing and certification regulatory programs, would look into the situation.
Stephen Groves from The Associated Press broke the story about the governor calling a private meeting with Sherry Bren, who at the time was still director of South Dakota’s appraiser certification office, regarding the governor’s daughter, who was in the room for the meeting. Bren subsequently was forced into retirement, Peters received her certification and state government paid $200,000 to Bren to make an age-discrimination complaint go away.
In a tweet last week, Noem said: “My daughter went through the exact same process that others did in South Dakota to become an appraiser. She was treated no different. And I never asked for her to get special treatment.”