Nepotism is a long-standing policy in the South Dakota Governor’s office.  And Kristi Noem is continuing the practice. 

Governor-elect Kristi Noem is announcing her office staff hires. Her daughter, Kennedy Noem, will serve the Noem administration as a policy analyst. 

Kennedy is currently a senior at South Dakota State University, where she is majoring in political science with a minor in economics.  Once she takes this position, she will make more than $40,700.

When we asked for a comment on the hire, Noem’s staff sent KELOLAND News this statement:

Kennedy will graduate from SDSU with a degree in political science this December and will join the administration as a policy analyst in January. While pursuing her degree, she interned twice in Washington D.C. and once in Pierre. Like the rest of the policy staff, Kennedy’s position will report to the chief of staff, and we expect the same sort of hard work out of her that South Dakotans saw on the campaign trail earlier this year. Kennedy’s insight and qualifications will be an incredible benefit to Governor-elect Noem as she works to shape and implement her policy proposals.

Kristin Wileman, Press Secretary
Office of Governor-elect Kristi Noem


Noem is not the first South Dakota governor to hire family members. 

Governor Dennis Daugaard employed members of his family, including his son-in-law, Tony Venhuizen, who is now making more than $146,000 per year as the Chief of Staff. 

While he wasn’t hired directly by his father, Chris Daugaard worked for a state agency, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. 

Former Governor Mike Rounds, who served before Daugaard, employed several family members. 

Rounds’ brother was the executive director of South Dakota’s Office of Risk Management. Dennis Rounds was in charge of overseeing lawsuits and minimizing risk. He made almost $84,000 per year. Another of Rounds’ brothers, Steven, worked for the Department of Education. Another brother, Scott, worked for the Department of Safety. And Jamison Rounds worked for the Department of Tourism. 
Four of Rounds’ sister-in-laws were also state employees.

All four of Rounds’ children were also employed by the state, as well as his son-in-law Justin Larson. 

Nearly 30 people with the last name of Rounds have worked or are working for the State.