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South Dakota “Government Accountability Board” pushes forward with Noem complaints

The committee made up of retired judges opted to hire outside counsel to further look into the complaints against Governor Kristi Noem, without setting a deadline as to when that outside counsel would be hired or picking their next meeting date.
Governor Kristi Noem holds a town hall in Mobridge (file)
Governor Kristi Noem holds a town hall in Mobridge (file)(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 12:55 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The South Dakota Government Accountability Board has made a motion to hire an outside attorney, as it considers a pair of ethics complaints against Governor Kristi Noem.

The two separate complaints stem from allegations that Noem misused her office to help her daughter obtain an appraisal licenses, and the other alleges that the Governor misused state airplanes.

After meeting for just under an hour, mostly behind closed doors, the retired judges and justices who sit on the Board decided by a unanimous vote that they needed further outside counsel. The Board determined that Katie Mallery, who acts as counsel for the Board, should recuse herself from legal matters regarding the two complaints, given that she is an employee of the Attorney General’s office and it could pose a “conflict of interest.”

“We are at a stage in the procedures where we have not yet made an initial determination, so we are going to consult with an attorney about what comes next,” said Lori Wilbur, Chair of the Board.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg sent the two complaints to the board last year following extensive media reporting on both matters.

Since receiving the complaints, the Government Accountability Board has met almost entirely in executive session, meaning that the events Monday were not available to the public to attend.

The Board had the ability to either dismiss one or both of the complaints, or send them to “contested case” hearings, which would have functioned similarly to a trial.

State Rep. Linda Duba (D-Sioux Falls) has attended a number of the meetings since the complaints were turned over to the Government Accountability Board, and feels like the process has dragged on too long.

“I think this sends the message that government is inefficient, and not transparent,” Duba said. “Whether it is true that we are trying to hide this from the public or not, that is the message we are sending. We need to improve upon that.”

The Board does not currently have a date picked out for it’s next meeting, nor does it have a timeline as to when it expects to have outside counsel for the two complaints picked out.

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