S.D. governor again defends daughter’s appraiser certification, says system was outdated

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi 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.

Noem, smarting from news stories about it this week, 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.

Noem also issued a news release Friday that quoted three people from the real-estate field, including Brian Gatzke from Brookings, one of three appraisers who supervised Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, leading up to her certification.

On Wednesday, 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.

Noem’s announcements came the same day the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper published a column from Brad Johnson, a South Dakota-certified general real estate appraiser from Watertown, that disapproved of the governor’s handling of her daughter’s situation.

Noem declined to reappoint Johnson to the state Board of Water and Natural Resources in 2019. He had served on the board 16 years.

Stephen Groves from The Associated Press broke the story that the governor called 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 Kassidy, 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.

State lawmakers this year passed Noem-backed legislation creating an appraiser experience training program. Bren, who was still the program’s director, testified for it. A public hearing on proposed rules is set for October 7.

Gresh told KELOLAND News there are concerns about what the future educational appraisal program will look like without Bren’s guidance. Based in Britton, South Dakota, Gresh serves Marshall, Day and Roberts counties in northeastern South Dakota. She said the appraisal industry is busy because of the current low interest rates. 

“Due to the limited number of rural appraisers it does sometimes take longer for that appraisal report to get completed,” Gresh said on Wednesday. “Most appraisers have quite the work log.” 

In her tweet Friday, 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.”

Her YouTube video runs nearly three minutes. “This system had been broken for decades,” she said.

Later Friday afternoon, Noem’s campaign issued another fundraising request, even though she doesn’t have an opponent yet for her re-election bid in 2022. “As we get closer to a full-fledged campaign year the political target on my back is getting bigger & the attacks against me are becoming nastier and more dishonest.”

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