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South Dakota AG 'actively reviewing' nepotism charges against Gov. Kristi Noem

The attorney general's move comes just days after news reports revealed the Republican governor intervened in the application to a state agency for a realty appraiser certification by her daughter.

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Gov. Kristi Noem talks with her constituents while after she took part in the naming of the Woman Farmer/Rancher of the Year during Dakotafest on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in the Education Building. (Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic)
Matt Gade

PIERRE, S.D. —South Dakota's attorney general is considering an investigation into allegations of nepotism against Gov. Kristi Noem 's possible involvement in her adult daughter's application to a state-backed realty appraiser certification.

"I have been contacted by concerned citizens and legislators," Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement issued on Wednesday, Sept. 29. "I am actively reviewing their concerns and I will be following the steps prescribed in codified law in relation to those questions."

Ravnsborg's interest in scrutinizing the retirement of Sherry Bren, a longtime realty appraiser certifier with the Department of Labor & Regulation, as well as a July 2020 reported meeting between Bren and Noem, was first reported on Tuesday evening by Dakota News Now . That 2020 meeting followed an initial move to deny Kassidy Peters , Noem's daughter, for a certification.

The Associated Press and South Dakota Public Broadcasting have reported that Bren was paid $200,000 by state officials to withdraw a wrongful firing complaint she and her attorney filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year.

A potential investigation would be the latest turn in a rocky relationship between Republicans Noem and Ravnsborg. Noem earlier this year called for Ravnsborg's resignation for striking and killing a pedestrian last fall along a highway in central South Dakota. Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges in that fatal wreck, and now faces a possible impeachment by the South Dakota Legislature in a special session Nov. 9.

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