As COVID-19 cases rise in South Dakota to new record highs, Governor Kristi Noem has been on the campaign trail for President Donald Trump. Just this week, she made stops in Nebraska, New Hampshire and Maine.
As KELOLAND News reported last week, some of her trips have benefited Governor Noem’s own campaign, which has raised $852,000. A large portion of that money came from people and organizations in South Dakota.
But she’s also bringing in money from out of state for her campaign. Here’s what we’ve been able to discover about Noem’s travels for the month of October.
Governor’s schedule not public record
Our first step in covering this story was to ask for Governor Noem’s official calendar. However, that request was first ignored by her office. Then KELOLAND News made an official public records request. We were told by a governor’s office attorney that calendars, or logs of appointments of public officials, are not subject to South Dakota public records law.
However, Governors Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard all put out a weekly public report of their schedules as governor. While the following is not a complete picture of how Governor Noem has spent the last month, it’s what we’ve been able to compile from news coverage of her appearances in other states, as well as social media posts.
Noem hits campaign trail after GOP Convention
“Good evening, I’m Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota,” Noem said at GOP Convention on August 26th.
Following her appearance at the GOP National Convention in late August, Noem kicked off a multi-state campaign tour as an official surrogate for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
The governor’s office says Noem’s travel expenses are mostly paid for with Trump campaign funds. In some cases, Republican party funds are used for some of the trips, as well as money from the governor’s campaign funds. According to Noem’s latest campaign finance report last week, $51,677.34 went for travel.
In September, we know Governor Noem made campaign stops in Ohio, Iowa, Oregon and Michigan.
She kicked off October in Hudson, Wisconsin. The following week she was a featured speaker at “AmpFest,” which was held at a Trump resort in Miami on October 8th.
Part of “Women for Trump” bus tour in Minnesota
During the weekend of October 10th, Governor Noem was part of the “Women for Trump” bus tour in Minnesota.
“These stops are important because if somebody is undecided, they don’t necessarily know the issues and they want to find out a little bit more about people who do support President Trump, it gives them an opportunity to come to ask questions, hear some of our thoughts and to really help make their decision before they get to election day,” Noem said on October 11 in Duluth, MN.
Returns to Sioux Falls for update on AG Ravnsborg crash investigation
Then she returned to South Dakota for a news conference on October 13th to update the investigation into the fatal crash involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. That’s when KELOLAND News asked her about spending so much time out of her time out-of-state as we hit record numbers of COVID-19 cases
Gov. Kristi Noem said on October 13 in Sioux Falls
“If we do not focus on the election as well, and President Trump is not in office, there are consequences of that to our state of South Dakota. We will be back facing regulations. We will be back looking at a lot of the challenges we saw, going after waters of the U.S. Osha regulations that cost our businesses money, tax reform will be undone. South Dakotans will have less money in their pockets. Health care costs could escalate as well.”
Back on the road again
A couple of days later, Noem took off for New Hampshire where a Trump campaign staffer tweeted that she was “talking to a fired up crowed at our NHTrump victory Field Office.”
“If we want to have a truthful conversation here, we have to admit, that six months ago, you had no idea who I was. (laughter from crowd) You never heard of Kristi Noem before,” Noem said to a New Hampshire Crowd.
Noem’s speech in New Hampshire posted on YouTube
On October 18th, Veterans First Foundation tweeted out this YouTube Video of Noem with polticial operative and 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.
“I came to New Hampshire for one specific reason. I have never left South Dakota to campaign for any other candidates. I don’t travel the country on a normal basis,” Noem told the crowd in the YouTube video.
Noem went on to tell the audience about how she was under attack by the media.
“The national media and even the media in the state of South Dakota told me literally that my decisions were wrong, all the time, every day, and just were merciless in how they attacked me,” Noem said.
Noem said South Dakota is getting it right when it comes to addressing the pandemic.
“We today in South Dakota, we never talked about how many cases we had of COVID-19. We never focused on that. Science says we can’t stop the virus. We know we can’t stop it… Fauci told me, from all of his models, expertise, insight and wisdom, that on my worst day I’d have about 10,000 people in the hospital. The most I’ve ever had is about 300…” Noem said in a YouTube video.
A little more than a week later that number has grown to more than 400 hospitalized
Next stops, Wisconsin and Texas
On October 19th, Noem was in Wisconsin with John Godwin of Duck Dynasty fame, for a clay shoot and barbeque luncheon.
That same evening, Noem supporters in Dallas, Texas, held a fundraising reception for her, which started at $1,000 to attend an went as high as $8,000 per couple.
Where to next?
The next Noem trip we know about coming up is the Lincoln Day Dinner in Palm Beach. According to the website, Noem is the featured speaker at the “Winter White House” Trump’s, Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
We have repeatedly asked Governor Noem for an on-camera interview to address her extensive travels and fundraising, as well as her response to rising COVID-19 cases and her views on the need to wear masks.
Noem’s communication director, Ian Fury, replied to Angela Kennecke’s latest request via Twitter for an interview by saying “We don’t reward reporters who are incapable of reporting basic facts.”
We also asked Noem’s office about getting her work done for the state, with such an extensive travel schedule. Noem’s office says she able to work from anywhere.