SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A complaint against Gov. Kristi Noem’s use of the state airplane has been dismissed by the Government Accountability Board.
The Government Accountability Board, made up of retired judges, met at the University of South Dakota – Sioux Falls and quickly went into executive session. KELOLAND’s Tom Hanson attended Tuesday’s GAB meeting and reported the board dismissed the complaint regarding Noem’s use of the state airplane.
Hanson said the board determined it did not have the authority to determine what is considered “state business” when it comes to use of state airplanes.
“The authority for such a definition is the responsibility of the state legislature from our research there is no such statutory definition,” Judge David Gienapp said.
Gienapp announced the lack of definition of state business prohibits them from making a determination if Noem’s use of the plane proper.
In October, Hughes County State’s Attorney Jessica LaMie announced the Division of Criminal Investigation’s inquiry into complaints about Noem’s misuse of the state airplane was complete and “there were no facts to support a criminal prosecution under current law.”
The complaint started in the South Dakota Attorney General’s office, moved to the Government Accountability Board then back to the attorney general’s office before being dismissed by the Hughes County State’s Attorney and shifted back to the GAB.
The board was forced to issue a subpoena to get the details of the investigation from the DCI. The results will not be made public and Tuesday’s action basically ends the matter.
Noem has maintained she followed state law and has done nothing wrong.
Tuesday’s action by the GAB ended a process that started more than 600 days ago when Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) first filed his complaint.
In October, Nesiba said the current law allows the attorney general or a state’s attorney discretion to look at “state business” and what it means.
“If we need to revisit this coming session and bring statute clarity to what state business is, then we’ll do that,” Nesiba said. “If we do need to go back and simply put a definition in statute of what constitutes state business, then I would hope that Republicans and Democrats alike would respect the will of the people and get that done.”
Noem issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon. “I have always used the state airplane according to state law and the precedent set by previous governors. The GAB Board made the right decision to dismiss this frivolous attack,” she said.