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Will Governor Noem Take A Plea Deal?
While Gov. Noem continues to argue that complaints filed against her are a “political attack,” a timeline of events paints another picture.

September 10, 2022 By Breeauna Sagdal

On August 28, 2020 a story broke in ProPublica regarding an investigation into Denny Sanford. "The richest man in South Dakota, T. Denny Sanford, was investigated for possible possession of child pornography, according to four people familiar with the matter. Sanford is a major donor to children’s charities and Republican politicians."

"Investigators with the South Dakota attorney general’s Division of Criminal Investigation obtained a search warrant as part of the probe, according to two of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. They said the case was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation."
Denny Sanford, according to open secrets has been one of Gov. Noem's largest campaign donors.

On September 12, 2020, fifteen days after the story broke of Denny Sanford's alleged child pornography probe, then Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was heading home, when he hit something outside of Highmore. It was confirmed the next day that he had hit and killed Joseph Boever, a Highmore resident who was
found to have been highly intoxicated in an autopsy report.

On September 28, 2021, a year and 16 days after Jason Ravnsborg had fatally hit Joseph Boever, a complaint was filed with the GAB (Government Accountability Board), regarding allegations of malfeasance and misconduct associated with the Governor's daughter Kassidy Peters.

In a
letter that accompanied the complaint, dated September 28, 2021, Ravnsborg turned over the investigation of Gov. Noem and suggested using out-of-state legal counsel in an attempt to avoid any impropriety on his behalf, or that of his department.

Allegations of misuse began in 2019, when flight-logs showed Gov. Noem used the state plane to fly to an
NRA Conference, a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition at a Las Vegas casino and other trips during Donald Trump's 2020 re-election bid. Members of the South Dakota state legislature, on behalf of the taxpayers, requested that A.G Jason Ravnsborg look into the possible misuse of the state plane, after Gov. Noem requested 5 million dollars for a newer model plane.

Both issues were brought
before the legislature during the 2021 session, which began in January.

On February 17, 2021, State Senator Reynold Nesiba sent a formal letter, to then Attorney General Jason Ranvsborg, requesting an investigation into Gov. Noem's use of the state owned airplane.

On February 23, 2021, following three misdemeanor charges of then Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, Gov. Noem called for his resignation. Earlier this summer, Ravnsborg was impeached by the State Senate and removed from office. Meanwhile, the investigations of Governor Kristi Noem's alleged misuse of state resources, along with her potential misconduct related to her daughter's appraisal license, have remained on-going.

Despite media reports claiming that allegations regarding Noem's misuse of the state airplane had been dismissed, the investigation was in fact handed off to recently appointed A.G Mark Vargo.
Three lawmakers, including Rep. Jamie Smith, running against Noem for Governor of South Dakota, called upon A.G Mark Vargo to recuse himself from the investigation of Noem. Vargo, who was appointed to the position of Attorney General by Gov. Noem, has now handed the case off to Hughes County State's Attorney Jessica LaMie.



Jessica LaMie, according to her LinkedIn account, has practiced law for a mere four and-a-half years, and was trained under former Hughes County State's Attorney, Roxane Hammond. Hammond, who recently engaged in "prosecutorial misconduct," was found to have violated the Brady Act in a case resulting in the mistrial of second degree murder suspect Barry Allman of Box Elder. LaMie took over for Hammond as the Hughes County State's Attorney, when Hammond went to work for now Attorney General Mark Vargo, in Pennington County.

Early Friday morning, September 9, 2022, the Government Accountability Board (GAB)
released the records and complaints related to the on-going investigation into whether or not Gov. Noem abused the power of her office to intercede on behalf of her daughter's appraisal license.

Within the released records, is a motion to dismiss the case dated April 15, 2022, from Gov. Noem's attorney Lisa Prostrollo. Prostrollo argues in the motion that the Board should not proceed further with a contested case hearing, citing that the A.G did not have proper standing to file, nor does the Board have proper statutory or Constitutional authority to provide relief.

"The Attorney General has filed his complaint in bad faith while acting in his official capacity without the requisite authority, and he is seeking relief from this Board that is well beyond its statutory and Constitutional power to provide. Therefore the complaint should be dismissed outright without a contested case hearing," Prostrollo states, who has also claimed that turning over the investigation was a "political attack."

The Government Accountability Board was created in 2017 by the legislature in order to investigate statewide office holders, and members of the legislature after various scandals emerged, like
EB-5 and Gear-Up. The Board is codified in state law under SDCL-3-24-1 through 3-24-11. According to the SDCL, the only requirement stipulated to file a complaint, is being a citizen or resident of South Dakota.

The Government Accountability Board has dismissed one charge related to Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters. It was alleged that Noem had misused state funds to settle a $200,000 dollar age discrimination case with former director of South Dakota’s Appraiser Certification Program, Sherry Bren.

The Board has moved forward on other charges however, including "malfeasance" as outlined in SDCL 3-24-3(4). Sources close to the investigation tell The Dakota Leader that Gov. Noem has been given the option to take a type of plea deal or go to a contested case hearing. Sources also indicate that Gov. Noem has been given until next week to decide how she intends to proceed.

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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor At Large

Post Date: 2022-09-10 08:15:48Last Update: 2022-09-13 12:40:57


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