Republican Gov. Kristi Noem was named by a fired state official who testified that the South Dakota governor used her position to score a real estate license for her daughter. The employee, Sherry Bren, was then pushed out of her position as the executive director of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program, CNN.com reported.
It was previously reported that Noem stepped in to ensure her daughter, Kassidy Peters, got an extra chance to correct her work on the exam and application before it was submitted for approval. She was facing a denial of her certification and that's when the July 27, 2020, meeting occurred.
"Peters had experienced difficulty meeting the state's criteria to complete the process because of deficiencies in her work," CNN reported, citing documents they obtained. The documents also show that there was a stipulation that Peters participate in a mentoring plan so that she could complete her certification, which was given just 11 days later.
Bren testified that she was then forced to retire months later "at the behest of the Administration."
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She also clarified that she wasn't the only one who witnessed the alleged nepotism, but she was the only one forced to retire. She filed an age discrimination complaint and asked for $200,000 in a settlement.
According to the testimony Tuesday, Peters was told before the meeting with the governor that she would be denied certification because the application was "insufficient." Noem then raged about the "serious deficiencies" in the application.
"Noem asked a series of specific questions about her daughter's application during the meeting with Bren and other state officials while her daughter was present," CNN said, citing Bren's testimony. There was then an agreement with the governor that Noem's daughter be granted a third chance to correct her application problems. Typically an applicant is only given two chances.
Peters has already surrendered her license due to the investigation.
Noem denies the allegations. In Oct., she tried to claim that having her daughter's application approved was really about helping everyone because she said that the process was stalled. That conflicts with the timeline, however, because Peters had already gotten her notification ahead of the meeting with her mother.
Noem is also under investigation by the state's attorney general.
Read the full report at CNN.com.
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