This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The day after KELOLAND News published this story, the state released Governor Noem’s state airplane flight records to KELOLAND News. You can see more about where she took the plane in this story.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota governor Kristi Noem wants to silence her critics on a number of political issues, including her use of the state airplane, CRT and whether or not she’s planning to run for higher office.
Over the past few months, KELOLAND News has repeatedly asked for interviews with the governor on these and a number of other topics, but we were either denied or was given a statement by her campaign.
Governor Noem finally agreed to a one-on-one no-holds-barred interview and we hear from her and her Democratic challenger Jamie Smith, who has been one of her biggest critics.
Last week, while Governor Noem was out campaigning in Sioux Falls neighborhoods, she agreed to answer our questions concerning her use of the state airplane.
The topic recently made headlines, when the government accountability board forwarded the investigation into whether Noem abused her power or violated state laws by using state airplanes to fly to political events to the attorney general’s office. Noem denies doing anything wrong.
“I’ve used the plane probably half as much as the previous governor, nobody has covered that, I use it very little for the exact same events the previous governor did, and the governor before that, and the governor before that, so this is just a political hit job because I was the only one who had balls enough to say this attorney general that killed a guy and left him in a ditch and lied about it and covered it up shouldn’t be the attorney general anymore,” Noem said.
Noem says that’s why former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg filed the complaint in the first place.
“Well it’s not just me that’s been critical of that, I think the whole state has been critical of the governor on that,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith said.
Smith says voters have the right to know how the governor is using the state airplane.
“We haven’t been able to know where the airplane is going, they said it was for safety concerns, you know, we don’t ever get to know what the governor’s schedule is, we don’t know whether that airplane is flying around the country promoting her book, you know, is it going to campaign rallies, we don’t know these things,” Smith said.
Smith believes Noem is promoting herself in order to seek a higher office.
Don Jorgensen: When you fly across the country that’s the insinuation.
Noem: I’m sure it is, but I’m also going there to help other candidates get elected, I realized right now when I show up people listen and if I can tell a little bit of a different story and give an example of what we’ve done in South Dakota it inspires them to do that in their state, too, plus the whole time I’m there I’m talking about our state.