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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
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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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