Noem refutes GOAC report, says daughter did not receive preferential treatment

Gov. Kristi Noem (left), Kassidy Peters (file photos)
Gov. Kristi Noem (left), Kassidy Peters (file photos)(Dakota News Now)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 3:01 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Gov. Kristi Noem is denying her daughter received special treatment acquiring her state appraisal license despite a new legislative investigation report suggesting otherwise.

Noem responded to the report on Wednesday, saying her daughter, Kassidy Peters, “followed the same process as other applicants.”

“For 10 years I have been working to fix the broken appraiser program in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement to Dakota News Now. “I introduced legislation when I was in Congress, and I continued to address our appraiser shortage issue as Governor. Kassidy followed the same process as other applicants did to obtain her license. She did not receive preferential treatment. And the legislature found no wrongdoing in their review, which concluded in December.”

Noem’s statement counters many of the findings posted in the Government Operations and Audit Committee report which was released Tuesday. All 10 members of the GOAC committee voted to adopt the report.

The governor called South Dakota’s real estate program “broken.” However, the GOAC report states “The process to obtain appraiser licensing/certification has historically been no more or less difficult in South Dakota than other states.”

Noem said her daughter was treated like any other appraisal license applicant, and did not receive preferential treatment. But the report notes several specific points in the process where Peters was treated in ways no one else was, including:

  • Peters had an agreed disposition to correct “training work deficiencies” in the spring of 2020. Labor Sec. Marcia Hultman changed the disposition to remove additional course training. This was the first time Hultman inserted herself into any disposition agreement, according to the report.
  • Peters took part in a closed-door meeting with Noem, Hultman, former director of the state’s appraiser program Sherry Bren, and other state officials in July of 2021. Peters’ appraisal process was discussed in this meeting. Hultman told committee members she was not aware of another time someone in a training position like Peters was involved in such a meeting.
  • After the July meeting, Peters entered into a stipulation agreement with the state, which the report said essentially gave her a “third chance” to pass her certification. The committee found this was “outside requirements,” and that Peters should have waited the required six months to apply.

The governor’s statement also said the committee found no wrongdoing in their review. Several committee members told Dakota News Now the GOAC panel was not created to punish anyone or assign blame, but rather to simply discover the fact.

“GOAC doesn’t have the authority to either reprimand, or give anyone a special pat on the back for either side of the equation,” committee co-chair Rep. Randy Gross (R, Elkton) said. “Our job is to identify things, and let the facts tell the story.”

Any further action on the allegations into nepotism would be taken up by the South Dakota Government Accountability Board.

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