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Ravnsborg refers Noem’s use of the state plane over to Government Accountability Board for review

Noem vs. Ravnsborg
Noem vs. Ravnsborg(KOTA, KEVN)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - The Attorney General of South Dakota has referred Governor Kristi Noem’s use of the state plane over the Government Accountability Board for “review and action.”

In a letter to State Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls), Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg answered a question by Nesiba about whether or not laws regarding the use of the state aircraft applied to the Governor, in accordance with SDCL 5-25-1.1.

“For purposes of this section, any aircraft owned or leased by the state may be used only in the conduct of state business. None of the exceptions listed are applicable regarding use of any aircraft owned or leased by the state or any of its agencies,” Ravnsborg wrote.

As a result of Nesiba’s inquiry, Ravnsborg says that he will send the three questions asked by Nesiba over to the Government Accountability Board. According to state law, that board is made up of “four members appointed by the Governor. Each member to be appointed shall be a former or retired circuit court judge or Supreme Court Justice. No more than two of the appointed members may be of the same political party. All appointees are subject to confirmation by the Senate.”

Noem’s use of state airplanes came under fire after a Raw Story piece published during the 2020 legislative session detailed extensive use for travel to family events around the state. However, the governor’s office disputes the details about the use of the plane around the time of the wedding of the governor’s daughter in Custer.

Ian Fury, Communications Director for Governor Kristi Noem says the governor drove to Custer to help her daughter prepare for her wedding. The state plane was used to pick up Noem in Custer and fly her to appearances in Vermillion for Girls State and Aberdeen for Boys State. It was then used to fly her back to Custer. The plane returned to Pierre at the end of the day without the governor.

“Governor Noem follows the law when weighing whether it is appropriate to use the state aircraft,” her spokesperson Ian Fury said in a statement.

Ravnsborg’s office has not responded to a request for comment.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include additional information from the Governor’s office about the use of the state plane before the wedding of the governor’s daughter in Custer.