Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, is under investigation for alleged abuse of power.
Kristi Noem could have simply said no to the Republican governor’s demands that state employees assist her adult daughter. She went with a new strategy.
Controversies like this one will hurt South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s chances of moving up the political ladder. According to a story published by the Associated Press late yesterday,
Governor Kristi Noem summoned the state employee who operated the agency, her direct supervisor, and the state labor secretary to her office just days after the agency sought to refuse her daughter’s application to become a licensed real estate appraiser. Even Noem’s daughter came to watch the game.
For stories like these, there’s a useful description: Allegations of power abuse are what they are termed.
When the governor organizes a face-to-face meeting with the state official who approves real estate appraisal applications, her boss, the South Dakota labor secretary, and her daughter, it’s one thing.
In a twist, the Associated Press reports that Noem’s daughter obtained the certification she wanted, prompting the state labor secretary to call for the resignation of the agency’s director.
As far as I’m aware, stories like these don’t happen all that often. One may easily envisage a strong official’s relative encountering a bureaucratic roadblock, prompting the relative to seek a personal favor from the official in question. An assistant is summoned by the strong official, who then seeks for help from several others. Soon the family member’s issue will be remedied.
However, if reports are to be believed, Noem pushed this dynamic to a new, more direct level. According to the AP,
According to Richard Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who served as George W. Bush’s senior ethics lawyer while Peters was pursuing her certification, Noem should have stayed out of talks about the agency related to her daughter’s application. To him, the situation was “obviously” one in which he had an interest in seeing a family member succeed while abusing his position.
Naturally, I was interested in hearing Noem’s response, as there was a possible good reason for all that had happened. When the governor’s spokesperson started the ball moving, he accused the Associated Press of “disparaging the governor’s daughter in order to damage the governor politically.
That’s a strange occurrence. The AP article found evidence that the governor had abused her authority,
but it did not “disparage” the governor’s daughter by saying she was guilty of misconduct.
Despite this, Noem posted the following tweet late yesterday afternoon: “Listen, I completely understand. This position was advertised, and I applied for it. However, the media is now attempting to obliterate my children through misinformation.”
Something like this might have been accomplished quite easily. Noem could have just said as much if the Republican governor didn’t exert any pressure on state officials. But she’s claiming that the allegations aren’t focused on her adult daughter instead of rejecting the basic ones.
Noem should have ample time to debunk the story if it is untrue. Because of her willingness to pretend the accusations were aimed at someone else rather than the governor, there is reason to believe the South Dakotan did exactly what she was accused of doing.