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House blocks Republican sponsored resolution critical of Noem

After contentious back and forth on the House floor, the resolution ultimately failed by 9 votes.
South Dakota State Rep. John Mills (R-Volga) speaks on his resolution that would have scolded...
South Dakota State Rep. John Mills (R-Volga) speaks on his resolution that would have scolded Governor Kristi Noem for her allegedly interfering with the state's appraisal certification program on behalf of her daughter.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:22 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota House lawmakers rejected a resolution Tuesday scolding Governor Kristi Noem for her role in allegedly interfering with a state agency to aid her daughter in her attempt to get a real estate appraisal licenses.

Accusations surfaced last year that Noem provided special treatment for her daughter, Kassidy Peters, during Peters’ attempt to obtain a real estate appraisal licenses in 2020.

The resolution HR 7004, brought by State Rep. John Mills (R-Volga) would have addressed “the Governor’s unacceptable actions in matters related to the appraiser certification program.”

Mills delivered a lengthy floor speech talking about why he decided to bring the resolution.

Mills said that he was incredibly disappointed when he heard the news of what happened with Noem and the appraiser certification program, and spent many “sleepless nights” thinking about how to proceed.

“One of the first questions that I was asked when I introduced this resolution was ‘Why, why are you doing this?’ The simple answer is, because it is our job,” Mills said.

In an uncommon move, State Rep. Chris Johnson (R-Rapid City), attempted to stop Mills’ floor speech by accusing him of “unethical behavior.” Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) ruled against Johnson on that accusation, a ruling with which an overwhelming majority of the House agreed upon.

Ultimately, Mills’ resolution failed by nine votes, with all eight Democrats joining more conservative Republicans to vote in favor of it.

Noem’s gubernatorial candidate, State Rep. Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) was one of three lawmakers who abstained from voting on the motion. Mills was criticized by the Governor’s office for appearing in a “Haugaard for Governor” campaign ad last week.

Mills said that neither of the two gubernatorial candidates currently facing Noem, Haugaard or State Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), were a part of his decision to bring the resolution.

“Neither of these two members seated on the floor today, who are opposing the Governor and seeking the job of Governor, had any idea I was working on this motion,” Mills said.

After the vote, the Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury said that the resolution was “filled with lies.”

“Kassidy (Peters) received no special treatment and her agreement was in the works before the meeting The Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) found no wrongdoing. If the Speaker (Gosch) felt strongly enough to vote for this resolution, he could have held a hearing.”

For his part, Gosch defended Mills.

“Representative Mills is one of the most outstanding men I’ve ever met in my life,” Gosch said. “I know what he had to do today was tough, but I am still proud of him for standing for his beliefs.”

Mills said that at the center of his decision to bring the resolution was what happened to Sherry Bren.

“I know appraisers, I started asking them about our appraiser program, and about Sherry Bren,” Mills said. “To see what they could tell me. What I learned was that Sherry Bren was well respected, not just in our state, but outside of it too.”

If the resolution had passed, it would have amounted only to a formal gesture. However, the state’s Government Accountability Board is currently investigating a complaint from Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg against Noem for her conduct in the ordeal.

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