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Noem’s daughter received special treatment in appraisal program, legislative panel finds

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Published: May. 17, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A special legislative committee investigating allegations into nepotism in South Dakota’s appraisal program found Gov. Kristi Noem’s daughter received preferential treatment in obtaining her appraisal license, according to a new report.

The Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) laid out several findings in a draft report obtained by Dakota News Now on Tuesday. The committee is set to adopt the report later this week.

The GOAC investigation was launched after an Associated Press report suggested Noem’s office got involved to help her daughter, Kassidy Peters, become a certified real estate appraiser just days after the state’s appraisal office moved to deny her license.

Several key figures from the investigation were cited in the report, including Sherry Bren, the former director of the state’s appraiser program, and Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman. Both were interviewed by the committee.

The report states Peters had an agreed disposition to “correct training work deficiencies” in the spring of 2020. Hultman changed the agreement and removed the requirement for additional training, which the report says is the first time the Dept. of Labor Secretary inserted herself into any sort of disposition agreement.

Peters received a notice of pending denial on July 2020. A week later, Bren was called to a meeting including Noem, Hultman, Peters, and other members of Noem’s cabinet. Bren said the governor commented that South Dakota was the hardest state to get licensed as an appraiser and that she “intended to get to the bottom of this.” However, the report states South Dakota’s certification process is no more or less difficult than in other states.

Bren said she felt intimidated in the meeting and was asked several questions about Peters’ appraisal training process. Hultman indicated this meeting was unique, and that “she was not aware of another time when someone in training for a position, such as Kassidy Peters, had been included in a meeting such as the one on July 27, 2020.”

Ten days after the meeting, Peters entered into a stipulation agreement that outlined the steps needed to complete her appraisal certification. Bren said Peters was essentially granted a “third chance” to get her license, which is not part of the certification process. Peters should have waited the required six months and reapplied, according to the report.

The report says Bren told the committee she was forced to retire the following spring. She filed an age discrimination claim and later received a $200,000 settlement from the state that included a non-disparagement clause.

Noem’s office has yet to comment on the report.

Peters resigned from her appraisal position amid the GOAC investigation at the end of 2021.

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