If complaints against Gov. Kristi Noem alleging she abused her office for personal gain are found to have merit, the South Dakota House of Representatives should consider impeaching her.
That’s according to Jason Ravnsborg, the former attorney general who was ousted from the office following an impeachment trial in the state Senate last week after lawmakers concluded he misused state resources in the aftermath of a fatal 2020 car crash that killed a pedestrian.
“Now we have a process for impeachment, and potentially that goes along with what we’re doing upstairs here,” Ravnsborg told the Argus Leader following a Government Accountability Board meeting, where a pair of complaints against Noem were discussed in a closed-door executive session.
The governor, since 2020, has faced accusations she misused the state’s airplane fleet to travel to personal and political functions. In 2021, Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
Reports accusing Noem of abusing her authority as governor to help one of her children who’d been struggling to become certified as a state real estate appraiser through the Department of Labor and Regulation also surfaced in 2021.
Former director of the state appraiser certification program, Sherry Bren, retired in March 2021, months after she was summoned to a closed-door meeting with both Noem and her daughter at the Governor’s Mansion in Pierre.
The Attorney General’s Office received a formal complaint regarding those allegations as well.
Both complaints against the governor were forward by the Attorney General’s Office to the Government Accountability Board, which began vetting both allegations in November.
Neither complaint has been settled, with the board first seeking additional information on at least one of the complaints, and retaining outside counsel.
Until now last month, Assistant Attorney General Katie Mallery, who serves as liaison to the board, has provided operational guidance for the board. Sioux Falls lawyer Mark Haigh, a partner at Evans, Haigh and Arndt law firm, advised the board during Monday’s closed-door meeting.
No action was taken, though the board heard from Ravnsborg during the public comment portion of the meeting. The 46-year-old Republican, who is ineligible to hold public office in South Dakota again following his impeachment conviction in the state Senate, urged the board to use a report issued by a legislative panel that outlined the facts surrounding the appraiser program allegations.
“That’s a stone on the scale,” he said.
Both the governor’s office and Noem’s re-election campaign declined to comment for this article.
The Government Accountability Board next convenes in August.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Ravnsborg goes after Noem after impeachment as South Dakota AG