South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem attempted to undo the damage from a nightmarish week with a three-minute YouTube video posted Friday that blamed “the media.”
Noem was accused of forcing the state to give her daughter a real estate license. A few days after Kassidy Peters’ application to become a Chartered Real Estate Appraiser was rejected, Noem brought the employee in charge of the relevant agency, along with the woman’s supervisor and the Secretary of State for Labor, to his office. . Noem’s daughter was also present at the meeting, the Associated Press reported.
70-year-old state assessment program manager Sherry Bren was forced to leave her post a week later. Kassidy’s request was approved four months later.
Claims of nepotism capped a disastrous week; she was forced to deny reports of an affair with political aide Corey Lewandowski, but severed ties with him a day later after a major Trump donor accused him of sexual harassment.
Noem did not respond to reporters’ questions about the nepotism allegations, choosing instead to post a video and a few tweets that avoided addressing key details. She did not deny the facts of the story.
In her video, she claimed that she actually tried to reform the real estate appraiser system in South Dakota after “hearing for years” how difficult it is to become an appraiser.
“This system had been down for decades,” she said. “It was designed to benefit those who were already certified and to keep others out. “
Without naming Bren, she said the person in charge of the system had been there for 40 years and efforts to streamline the process had been unsuccessful.
“I had been working for years to fix it and realized how difficult it was over the past two years to fix it,” she said.
However, Noem did not explain why his then 26-year-old daughter Kassidy attended the meeting with Bren and other senior officials if it was just about reforming the system. She also didn’t explain why Kassidy didn’t get a license and how she got one four months later.
All Noem said was that Kassidy “went through all the same steps” as any other potential assessor, including doing 200 hours of assessment training and working 1,500 hours over a year.
“These are the facts, but the media ignore these facts,” she said. “They prefer to attack my daughter to score cheap political points against me.”
Government ethics experts consulted by the Associated Press called the case a clear “conflict of interest and abuse of power” and state attorney general Jason Ravnsborg said he would review it after being contacted “by concerned citizens and legislators”.
Ravnsborg’s involvement signaled an ironic turn in fortunes. Noem had requested Ravnsborg’s resignation earlier this year after it emerged he had killed a man while driving, then claimed he believed he had hit a deer. He did not plead any dispute for two offenses, was not tried and refused to resign.