The Ethics Board Has Dismissed Complaint About Noem’s Use of State Aircraft

( – The Associated Press reports that a South Dakota ethics board dismissed a complaint against Governor Kristi Noem (R) on Tuesday regarding her use of a state airplane to travel to political events.

Given the absence of a precise definition of “state business” under South Dakota law, the Government Accountability Board, a group of retired judges that reviews allegations of misconduct against state officials, unanimously voted to dismiss the ethics complaint.

According to reports, Noem flew on the government’s aircraft six times in 2019 to political events that, arguably, weren’t state business.

After a state senator questioned whether Noem had broken a South Dakota law requiring state aircraft to be used exclusively for “state business,” the state’s former attorney general Jason Ravnsborg (R), referred the matter to the state ethics board in September 2021.

According to the AP, former judge and Government Accountability Board member David Gienapp stated on Tuesday that “there may or may not have been actions contrary to the law.” He said it is not felt that the board has the authority to establish a definition of state business.

The state ethics panel determined that “appropriate action” could be taken against the governor in August after finding merit in a different complaint that Noem interfered with her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser.

Potential presidential candidate Noem flew to out-of-state political events hosted by groups like the Republican Governors Association, Republican Jewish Coalition, Turning Point USA, and the National Rifle Association six times in 2019. The governor’s office defended the trips as part of her duties as the state’s “ambassador” to support the state’s economy.

Additionally, Noem, that year, had merged the lines between going on business trips and going to family gatherings. Her office has stated that she took several trips with family members, but that was in keeping with a tradition started by former governors.

Republican Jason Ravnsborg, a former attorney general, had complained to the state’s Government Accountability Board while under pressure from the governor to resign for his actions related to a fatal car accident in 2020. Despite being impeached and removed from office in June, he persisted in investigating the claims on his own.

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