South Dakota's Government Accountability Board's commitment to the public is under question after it refused to disclose the "appropriate action" it took against GOP Gov. Kristi Noem.
"The board's three retired judges considering the complaint voted unanimously last month to find that there was evidence that Noem, who is considered a potential 2024 White House contender, engaged in a conflict of interest and malfeasance when she held a meeting in July 2020 that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and key decision-makers in Peters’ licensure just days after the agency had moved to deny her a license," the Associated Press reported Tuesday. "After the meeting, Peters got another opportunity to demonstrate she could meet federal standards and was ultimately awarded the license."
Mark Haigh, a lawyer for the ethics board, told the AP the response was "confidential."
The Associated Press described Noem's case as the "first major test" the Government Accountability Board has faced. The South Dakota governor is considered a potential 2024 RNC ticket hopeful.
The Associated Press spoke to Kathleen Clark, a law professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. “This all looks like, frankly, an ethics board trying to engage in a cover-up,” Clark said.
Clark said the board was obligated to conduct a contested case hearing and which then makes the hearings open to the public.
“This appears to be an end-run around the required transparency and disclosure,” Clark said.
But Karen Soli, a former Democratic state lawmaker who helped create the board, told the Associated Press that the organization was meant to provide “a quiet, behind-the-scenes way to let someone know that they were doing something wrong in state government.”