PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is drawing scrutiny for calling a meeting in July 2020 with a state official, days after the agency head rejected Noem's adult daughter's application to be a certified realtor appraiser.
According to the Associated Press, longtime state realty agency employee Sherry Bren received $200,000 in payment from the state in March to withdraw a wrongful termination complaint she'd filed against the State of South Dakota. In the complaint, Bren alleged she was forced from her job over age discrimination. The document also reveals that she was called to Noem's office over a real estate appraiser's certification from Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters, who was 26 at the time of the 2020 meeting.
Bren, according to the AP's reporting, originally moved to deny Peters' application for certification. But days later, Bren was "summoned" to Noem's office for a meeting attended by various officials, including Peters. In November, Peters obtained her certification, and Bren was eventually forced from her job.
The AP reports a gag order was stipulated as part of the settlement with the state for Bren, formerly the executive director of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program within the Department of Labor & Regulation.
Bren did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forum News Service.
Rep. Erin Healy, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said the $200,000 payment appears to be a "serious offense" and should be investigated "thoroughly."
"There is blatant nepotism and corruption coming out of Governor Noem's office," Healy said in a tweet.
There is blatant nepotism and corruption coming out of Governor Noem's office. Our tax dollars should never be spent on $200,000 bribes to cover the Governor's and DOL's wrongdoing. This appears to be a serious offense and should be investigated thoroughly. https://t.co/SA9bvdvOYR— Representative Erin Healy (@RepErinHealy) September 27, 2021
In a post to social media, Noem lamented a "double standard" and said the media was "trying to destroy my children."
Listen I get it. I signed up for this job. But now the media is trying to destroy my children. This story is just another example of the double standard that exists with the media... going after conservatives and their kids while ignoring Liberals #AskTheBigGuy— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) September 27, 2021