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South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem Took State Plane To Her Son's Prom Because That's Normal
Love that grift!
Last year, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, was accused of nepotism when she (allegedly) leaned on a government official so that her daughter could receive her real estate appraisal license. Well, Noem has more than one child, so our favorite COVID-spreading governor is facing an entirely separate corruption charge. Like any good mother, she has no favorite corruption scandal. She loves them all equally.
Noem is currently under investigation for using the state airplane as her own personal Uber. During the first year of her unimpressive term in office, she took the plane to out-of-state rightwing political events, including those put on by the Republican Governors Association, Republican Jewish Coalition, Turning Point USA, and the National Rifle Association. Her spokesperson, Ian Fury, defended the trips, claiming that Noem was serving as "South Dakota's top ambassador to the rest of the nation." He must've confused her with Miss South Dakota, who doesn't have access to a private jet.
Back in 2019, when returning from an event in Rapid City, she decided against staying overnight in the state capital, where she had another meeting the next day. Instead, she went to Watertown, near her home, so she could watch her son attend his prom. This cost taxpayers an extra $3,700 or so when she had the plane drop her off and pick her up again the next morning.
Aside from all the grift, there’s the larger question of why any teenager would want their mother at his high school prom. Traditionally, helicopter parents don't use state-owned helicopters.
Noem's spokesperson offered a baffling defense for the prom detour: “Part of official travel is returning from official travel," Fury said, presumably before vanishing in a puff of smoke. He dropped the same load of BS regarding a trip on May 30, 2019: Noem was staying in Custer to help her daughter with wedding planning. Conveniently, she'd arranged to speak at two youth leadership events nearby, both of which were vital to state business, we guess. Noem's son, nephew, and one of their friends rode back with her on the state plane to join the wedding preparations. You don't need to be Walter Shaub to find this all very unethical.
Reporting on this latest scandal, ABC News flatteringly describes Noem as a "potential 2024 White House contender." The media won't give up on this year's Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, the state ethics board has referred the complaints about Noem's trips to South Dakota's Division of Criminal Investigation. Hughes County State’s Attorney Jessica LaMie will determine whether Noem broke a 2006 law voters passed specifically in response to former Gov. Mike Rounds' questionable use of the state airplane.
Rounds had taken the state plane to attend his son's away basketball games while also traveling on "official business." He used political funds to reimburse the state for those trips. Rounds is now a US Senator, so this didn't hinder his political career. It's unknown if his son still plays basketball.
Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in government ethics, said Noem's travel to political events seemed to fall into a legal gray area. While a trip to fundraise or campaign would clearly break the law, he said, traveling to meet with political groups was “pushing the limit.”
It's unclear how speaking to Charlie Kirk clones at a Turning Point USA event is in the state's interest rather than simply advancing Noem's own personal political interests.
If found to have violated the law, a Class 2 misdemeanor, Noem would have to cough up $1,000 plus 10 times the cost of the travel. She probably should've just watched Facebook videos of her son's prom.
[ ABC News ]
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