Noem wants conservative lobbyist ousted

In a letter to the Board of Directors for Family Heritage Alliance, Noem asks for Executive Director Norman Woods to be replaced because of his public calls for her to take action on “kid-friendly” drag shows.
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, Gov. Kristi Noem gives her first budget address to...
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019 file photo, Gov. Kristi Noem gives her first budget address to lawmakers at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D.(AP Photo/James Nord, File)
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 9:32 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - Governor Kristi Noem wants the head of a conservative lobbying organization fired, after he released a letter publicly calling on her to take action on “kid-friendly” drag shows.

In a three page letter of her own to the Board of Directors of the Family Heritage Alliance (FHA), Noem calls on them to remove Executive Director Norman Woods, and “find an executive director who agrees” with her “pro-family message.”

Family Heritage Alliance Executive Director Norman Woods.
Family Heritage Alliance Executive Director Norman Woods.(Family Heritage Alliance (FHA))

“I’d encourage the Family Heritage Alliance to evaluate the purpose of your organization,” Noem asked, after listing her accomplishments as Governor. “Is it to promote family values, or is it to attack the most conservative governor in the country?”

Noem explains that she has issue with a letter Woods sent to her office and The Dakota Scout, a Sioux Falls based media outlet, earlier this week calling on her to take action on “kid-friendly” drag shows.

As a result, Noem indicates that her office will no longer work with FHA, despite their “shared goals.”

“I am disappointed in Mr. Woods’ decision to attack me publicly by sending this letter out of the blue and releasing it to the media at the same time, instead of reaching out to my office to have a productive conversation about how we can work together,” Noem wrote.

The Family Heritage Alliance is one of the most influential social conservative lobbying organizations in South Dakota. They have weighed in on a number of policies being debated that affect South Dakota, and have previously indicated their support for Noem’s policies, on issues ranging from education reform to banning Critical Race Theory.

In a statement to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory Woods pointed to the success of other conservative grassroots organizations, like “Protecting South Dakota Kids,” which defeated an effort to legalize recreational marijuana in South Dakota last month.

“As an organization exclusively lobbying on behalf of South Dakota families, we naively thought we could engage America’s ‘most conservative governor,’ her words, in an effort to put an end to explicit sexualization of children on our public university campuses,” Woods responded. “Sadly, she misconstrued our efforts. Regardless, just like Protecting South Dakota Kids was successful this fall, so will we be when it comes to putting an end to these grooming events.”

Wednesday, the South Dakota Board of Regents took action to effectively prevent “kid-friendly” drag shows from taking place on public campuses in the future, which Noem says she helped advocate for behind the scenes.

“As you know, South Dakota State University recently hosted a “kid-friendly” drag show hosted on state property, which has sparked outrage from parents and level-headed people across our state,” Woods wrote to Noem before the Regents’ meeting. “People like me are striving to protect children here in South Dakota from harm, and I know you want to do the same.”

It is not the first time that Noem has had a dust up with a member of the Woods family. Caroline Thorman Woods, Norman’s wife, previously worked for Noem’s office for eight months as a policy advisor, until May 2021. Thorman Woods’ time with the office came to an abrupt end around the time that Governor Kristi Noem vetoed HB 1217, a bill that would have prevented transgender athletes from participating in girls sports in South Dakota.

When Noem championed a similar bill during the 2022 legislative session, Caroline penned an op-ed for the Rapid City Journal, questioning Noem’s motives.

Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury responded to Thorman Woods, calling her a “disgruntled former staffer.”