SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers have summoned two people who were present at a meeting Gov. Kristi Noem held last year that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and state employees who were overseeing Peters' application for a real estate appraiser license.
The Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, sent letters asking Secretary of Labor and Regulation Marcia Hultman and the former director of the state's Appraiser Certification Program, Sherry Bren, to show up at a meeting next week. Although it isn't clear what will be asked of the women, the requests for them to appear at the meeting show that lawmakers want more answers from the Republican governor.
Bren and Hultman were central to the episode that has raised concerns from ethics experts. They attended the meeting in the governor's office in July 2020, just days after Bren's agency moved to deny Peters a certification to become a residential appraiser. Peters received her license four months after the meeting. And days after she received it, Hultman allegedly pressured Bren to retire. Bren eventually left her job this year after the state paid her $200,000 to withdraw an age discrimination complaint.
Both sides have limited their comments about the matter, in part because the settlement agreement bars them from disparaging each other.
Noem has dismissed concerns about the episode by saying she never requested special treatment for her daughter. She also has said the initial report on the meeting from The Associated Press was a political attack.
Noem, 49, has generated speculation that she might run for president in 2024 because she formed a federal political action committee, has been assisting campaigns across the country and has attended many of the same events as other potential GOP hopefuls.
The audit committee has scheduled the matter of the July 2020 meeting as its first item of business on Thursday next week. It also requested the presence of the president of the state's appraiser association, who has been critical of Noem's handling of the agency and called for a thorough investigation. In addition, lawmakers want to hear from the Office of Risk Management, which negotiated the settlement with Bren.
Stephen Groves, The Associated Press