Kristi Noem: Scandals And Controversies About The South Dakota Governor

Kristi Noem is the Republican governor of South Dakota. Noem has frequently been discussed as a likely 2024 Republican presidential candidate. Noem previously served as a member of Congress representing a district in South Dakota.

This is a guide to scandals and controversies involving Kristi Noem.

Anti-Abortion Extremism

Noem supports a South Dakota law that bans abortion, even for victims of rape or incest.

Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Noem supported Donald Trump’s attempts to ban Muslim people from migrating to the United States.

Attacks On Transgender People

Noem signed a South Dakota law that banned trans student athletes, which the ACLU called “part of a coordinated attack on trans youth moving nationwide.” Mark Miller, Noem’s chief of staff, defended the passage of the bill by comparing transgender youth to terrorists: “By putting it in law, we are ensuring that what we’re seeing all over the country does not happen in South Dakota. It’s sort of like terrorism, you want to keep it over there, not let it get to here.”

National Guard Border Scandal

Noem enlisted the financial support of a major Republican donor, Willis Johnson, and deployed South Dakota’s National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. Noem defended the political stunt, declaring that “This deployment is vital for the security of our state and our nation.”

South Dakota Ethics Violation Finding

South Dakota’s Government Accountability Board found that there was evidence that Noem engaged in a conflict of interest and committed malfeasance for reportedly getting involved with a state agency after it was prepared to deny giving her daughter a real estate appraisal license.

Noem claimed her daughter went through the standard process for her license, but Sherry Bren, the former director of South Dakota’s Appraiser Certification Program, was called into a meeting at the governor’s mansion with Noem and the license was later granted.

Kassidy Peters, Noem’s daughter, turned in her license after the controversy was reported on in the media.

State Plane Usage Scandal

Noem came under investigation for using a state-owned airplane to transport family members and also for use in conjunction with Republican political events.

COVID-19 Falsehoods

Noem claimed in 2021 that Dr. Anthony Fauci was “picking on” Republican governors while making recommendations about the best way to prohibit spread of COVID-19. Noem at the time was promoting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. The event was a super-spreader of the virus in 2020 after Noem refused to cancel it.

Election Donation Scandal

Noem in 2020 solicited online campaign donations with language that deceptively claimed the money would be used to help reelect Donald Trump. The emails from Noem said, “help us bring it home for the president.”

But the donations actually went to Noem’s own reelection campaign’s bank accounts.

COVID-19 Response Failures

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Noem opposed the use of masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. At the same time Noem used anti-mask rhetoric, South Dakota was ranked second in the United States with COVID infections.

Noem refused to impose tighter restrictions on South Dakota residents as the virus was spreading in 2020, including an outbreak that affected dozens of workers at pork producer Smithfield’s factory in the state.

When the media reported on how the virus was affecting South Dakota, Noem claimed the media was trying to “destroy” the state.

After the Biden administration imposed vaccine mandates on federal workers to stop the spread of the virus, Noem threatened to sue the federal government.

Abortion Misinformation

Noem attacked women who use tele-consulting to get abortion-related care from doctors over the internet. Noem claimed, “This decision to have an abortion, they say, can happen between a woman and any stranger on the Internet.”

Extremist Rhetoric

South Dakota was prohibited from setting off fireworks for the Fourth of July in 2021 while the state was going through a drought and while the process had been opposed by Native American tribes worried about possible environmental damage. But Noem claimed the denial was the fault of the agenda of the “radical left” who “don’t want to celebrate America or our freedoms.”

Noem also baselessly claimed that the denial was punishment from President Joe Biden.

Refusal To Help Unemployed Workers

Noem refused to accept federal aid designed to assist unemployed workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support Of NRA After Mass Shooting

After the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children, Noem chose to keep her agreement to speak at the NRA’s annual convention.

Lies and Falsehoods

Noem claimed that South Dakota was ranked as “the strongest economy in America” in 2021 but at the time the site was ranked by Wallethub as 33rd in a ranking of economic strength by state. That same year, U.S. News and World Report ranked South Dakota’s economy at 30.

Hiding Trump’s Tax Returns

Noem in 2018 voted to kill an amendment that would have required Trump to disclose his taxes and potentially reveal how he had evaded paying federal taxes.

Stimulus Payment Hypocrisy

Noem attacked stimulus payments authorized by President Joe Biden in the American Rescue Plan as a “giant handout” but then used the money to finance $1 billion in local water projects in South Dakota.

Defense Of Trump’s Theft Of Classified Documents

Noem attacked the FBI for going to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to recover classified documents that Trump had taken without authorization. She wrote, “Using the criminal justice system in this manner is un-American.”

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