PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Republican legislator who’s brought a resolution criticizing South Dakota’s Republican governor for some of her recent actions says her office is wrong in linking it to a rival’s campaign.

Representative John Mills of Volga said Friday that the governor’s spokesman shouldn’t have associated the resolution with Representative Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls, who’s challenging Governor Kristi Noem for the Republican nomination in the June primary.

Noem spokesman Ian Fury in a Friday statement to KELOLAND News wrote, “It’s unfortunate that legislators are using the legislative process to launch campaign attacks. Yesterday morning, Rep. Mills appeared in a new campaign commercial for Steve Haugaard. Rep. Mills then filed his resolution. Meanwhile, over this entire session Mills has filed one bill, and it failed spectacularly. Mills should spend more time serving his constituents’ interests and less time playing politics.”

Fury also provided a photo showing Mills in a Haugaard campaign video.

Responded Mills, “Rep. Haugaard had no idea I was working on or had introduced the resolution. I had no idea this photo was in a campaign ad. People may think politics was involved. It was not. Principles matter. Integrity matters.”

The resolution, HR 7004, takes the governor to task for her involvement regarding an upgrade sought by one of her daughters from the state real-estate appraiser certification program.

The three-page document, on which Mills is the only legislator listed, concludes with a statement that “the actions of the Governor failed to meet the expectations that South Dakotans have of their leaders, nor do they comport with the words of our Constitution or the spirit of the Governor’s oath of office.”

It hasn’t been assigned yet to a House committee.

The Senate meanwhile stopped final passage of a related piece of legislation that would have put the state appraisers advisory council into state law. The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee proposed the bill after looking into the matter last year.

Part of the appraiser controversy was a $200,000 settlement that the Noem administration reached with Sherry Bren, who ran the program for decades until she was forced to retire. Another bill sponsored by Representative Ernie Otten, R-Tea, and some other GOAC members would have required state officials to turn over settlement agreements to the Legislature’s Executive Board and GOAC within 30 days of the signings. HB 1041 came out of the House 64-6.

The Senate State Affairs Committee this week changed that bill’s thrust to declare that a non-disparagement clause in a state settlement is void and unenforceable “to prevent the
communication or disclosure of facts” to the Executive Board or GOAC. Bren’s settlement contained a non-disparagement clause that led to GOAC issuing a subpoena for her to testify.