Governor Noem’s $9,000 desk paid with private funds

Noem's New $9,000 Desk Update: Who paid the bill
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:13 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - More details regarding Governor Noem’s $9,000 desk have been revealed since Dakota News Now first brought you the story last month.

Sources confirm that the desk is paid in full, without a discount by a person close to the Governor.

The South Dakota Department of Corrections confirms the desk invoice was not paid with state funds and is no longer at the prison workshop.

Sources say the chairs, which were made as a part of the project, were not taken and remain on site.

The desk was initially ordered from the Penitentiary workshop in Sioux Falls, Pheasantland Industries.

After many change orders, the new bill came to just over $9,000. Sources say there was an order from Interim Secretary of Corrections Tim Reisch to discount the bill, resulting in a $3,000 loss to Pheasantland Industries.

After our story aired, the governor’s office responded that the bill would be paid according to the amount invoiced. A spokesperson for the governor tweeted that it was Governor Noem’s personal order.

Sources have confirmed that a person close to the governor paid for the desk in full and it is no longer at the prison workshop. The chairs, which were made as a part of the project, were not taken and remain on site. Inmates are paid 50 cents per hour for their work.

Signatures of inmates who built the desk were hidden within portions of the desk, including the name of a manager at the penitentiary, whom Noem fired.

Sources say in September of 2020, the governor’s office inquired about making a black walnut executive desk. A quote was given for a desk 80 inches long and three feet wide. The original was to have basic cutouts.

In April of this year, Noem ordered the desk. Although material prices had increased from $6.38 per foot to $8.20 per foot from the time of the original bid, the work was agreed upon at the original bid price according to the Correctional Officers we spoke with.

After inmates were well on their way with the project, change orders came in. The desk size was changed to accommodate another person to sit and collaboratively work with the governor, increasing the size from 80 inches to over 100. Pheasantland Industries had to re-work its design. More change orders were made, including brass embossing, a gun drawer, leather inserts for the drawer, a footrest, and a state map embossed on the top.

We’ve been told although Pheasantland paid $8.20 per foot for black walnut boards, Governor Noem’s cost after the planned discount would have been $2.02 per foot. Inmate hours were allegedly re-logged from paid time to training time.

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