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Analysis: $200,000 settlement leads to accusations of nepotism in the Noem administration


This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

An age discrimination settlement leads to a public outcry of ethics violations and nepotism in the Noem administration. Dakota Political Junkies Jonathan Ellis and Michael Card discuss the controversy.

The issue, summarized

Sherry Bren logged off her state computer on March 30th for the last time. The next day the 70-year-old accepted a $200,000 dollar settlement. In accepting the payment, Bren withdrew an age discrimination complaint against the state. Her 30-year career as the executive director of the Appraiser Certification Program for the state of South Dakota was over.

Bren says the choice was not hers.

“I was forced to retire,” Bren said. “I turned 70 at the time that this happened. I believe that I was perceived as not being able to--being too old to do my job, or something--I don’t know what. I really don’t know. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to leave in a couple of years, but that wasn’t my choice.” 

The Associated Press reports that Governor Kristi Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters, applied to become a certified real-estate appraiser while Bren ran the certification program. The AP reports Peters initially faced denial of her license,but obtained it months after attending a meeting with the governor, Bren and others. The AP asked Governor Noem about the meeting and Bren's retirement. The governor's spokesman accused the AP of attacking Governor Noem politically.

The Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials calls Bren a “remarkable asset” to the appraiser profession.

Sherry Bren was one of the longest-tenured executive directors with any state-based appraisal regulatory program in the country.

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