SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Tuesday, the former director of South Dakota’s appraiser certification program, Sherry Bren, gave testimony before the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOA). The purpose of her appearance was to shed light on whether Gov. Kristi Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, received special treatment in her pursuit of her residential appraiser certification.
Bren testified that Peters had.
Bren told the committee that Peters received a unique path to her certification and that her draft of a plan for Peters was changed by intervention from Department of Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman, something that Bren says is not common.
One point of contention following the testimony revolved around a stipulation agreement.
On August 5, 2020, Peters and another department official signed a stipulation agreement regarding Peters’ application, which called for Peters to fulfill a variety of conditions, including additional education courses, in order to get the upgraded certification.
Bren claimed during testimony that her office had never before issued a stipulation agreement.
This statement was seized upon by Noem’s communications director, Ian Fury, who accused Bren of lying when committee members brought up another stipulation agreement from 2017 which was tied to an unrelated case.
Bren told the committee members she was unfamiliar with the 2017 stipulation agreement, and that did not recall it.
Fury cited this agreement in an email to the media in which he accused Bren of making false claims. He then went on to post that because Bren had made a false statement, that perhaps her entire testimony should be considered false.
Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a Latin phrase meaning “false in one thing, false in everything.” It is the legal principle that a witness who testifies falsely about one matter is not credible to testify about any matter.Ian Fury
Rep. Linda Duba (D) of Sioux Falls takes issue with this, as well as with Fury’s whole response.
“I was angered by that,” said Duba. “That was unwarranted and uncalled for, and that was directly addressed in the meeting yesterday. That stipulation document was from a completely different off-shoot and process and had nothing to do with what we were talking about yesterday.”
Duba does not think Sherry Bren lied. She also noted that other officials had also made false statements, including Secretary Hultman, who at a previous hearing had claimed there had been no other denials of appraisal certificates such as Peters in recent years.
“We learned that there had been a denial in the 2019/2020 window, and if you go back to the previous testimony when [Hultman] was speaking she told us there hadn’t been any denials in 4 years,” said Duba.
Under Fury’s proposed use of ‘falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’, it follows that it could be questioned if the rest of Hultman’s testimony should also be considered false since she was wrong about the denials.
“Let’s take it one step further,” said Duba. “The Governor indicated that there were no special favors done for her daughter — that it was by the book. She also said that they didn’t talk about her application. Neither of those statements are true. So do we now need to say Subpoena the Governor?”
Such an idea has been floated recently, but Duba says this is unlikely. “I don’t think it’s likely by my committee,” she said, “but I could push for it.”
Asked if she would push for it, Duba says she will wait and see, for now.
So what does happen now?
“It is unclear what comes next,” said Duba. “We’re going to have a summary come out of this — the Government Accountability Board (GAB) met today, and we believe they have this complaint.”
Duba says that ultimately the matter is now most likely in the hands of the GAB. “They have certain powers and actions they can take,” she said.
“I want the public to know that I think we uncovered some pretty important information yesterday,” said Duba. “From my personal perspective, it appears that there was a license issued out of the norm.”
While Duba doesn’t know what comes next, she did have this to say.
“I don’t think that this is over yet.”