South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, shared a statement by video late Friday to address media reports about an alleged meeting she held last year that included her daughter and a state employee who was overseeing her daughter’s application to become a real estate appraiser.
Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, was present at a meeting in July 2020 with Noem and Sherry Bren, who oversaw the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program, as well as with several others, Bren had told The Associated Press. The AP reported that Peters’s application to become a residential appraiser was initially declined, citing a July 27 letter from Peters’ supervisor.
Both Noem and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation have not confirmed nor denied that the meeting as reported by the AP had taken place.
Following the publication of the AP’s report on Sept. 28, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, said he is reviewing concerns raised to him over the 2020 meeting. Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation said that there was no denial to Peters’s application and she was certified in November 2020.
In a video message posted on Friday, Noem said, “There’s a lot of speculation and innuendo in the media and I wanted to take a second to set the record straight. I never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy. She is my daughter and I’m proud of her. I raised her to accomplish things on her own just like my parents raised me.”
She added, “Other appraisers went through the exact same process that Kassidy did, and I’ll be honest—my administration started fixing that process and it was way too difficult. Appraisers weren’t getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a house. This system had been broken for decades.
“[The system] was designed to benefit those who were already certified and to keep others out,” she continued, adding later, “I’m focused on making it easier for young South Dakotans to enter this field, and that will make it easier for South Dakotans to purchase a home.”
Noem said that the media is ignoring the facts, such as how she has made changes to the process to become a certified appraiser “to streamline it for the future.”
The certification program will no longer require people to take an exam before they start their training, Noem said, noting that appraisers “were having to pass a license-level exam before they’d even taken the classes necessary to pass it.”
“My department of Labor and Regulation is fixing that. We’ve revised other processes and we’re still looking at streamlining other requirements.”
Noem said that her administration has been working for three years to eliminate barriers to licensure in general by cutting red tape, and accused media outlets of having ignored on reporting the efforts of Noem’s administration with regard to this matter, and would rather attack her daughter “in order to score cheap political points” against her.
In a statement on Oct. 1, Noem’s office shared remarks from three real estate professionals who thanked Noem for having streamlined the appraiser certification process. According to the governor’s office, a shortage of appraisers is a nationwide problem that’s exacerbated in South Dakota “because of prior barriers to entry in appraiser certification.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.