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Politics

Legislators compel testimony from woman at center of Noem appraiser controversy

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SDPB

The woman at the center of a controversy involving Gov. Kristi Noem and Noem's daughter will testify before a legislative committee.

The Legislature's Executive Board approved a subpoena Wednesday. That's a legal document ordering a person to appear. The board did not set a date for the testimony.

It'll be the first time Sherry Bren speaks publicly since Associated Press reports detailing a July 2020 meeting she attended with Noem, the governor's daughter Kassidy Peters, and several top administration officials and lawyers.

Bren ran the state's Appraiser Certification Program for 30 years. Kassidy Peters was seeking an appraiser license at the time of the meeting.

Eight months after the meeting, Bren said the Department of Labor forced her to retire at the behest of the Noem administration. Bren filed an age-discrimination complaint and settled for $200,000.

Bren has said previously that she will testify in front of the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee if compelled by subpoena. She'll be joined by her lawyer, Tim Rensch.

Republican state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck sits on the committee that approved the subpoena. He is also the Senate president pro tempore and says senators feel Bren's testimony should be limited in scope.

"It's about the functionality of the appraisal program, of which there's much discussion probably in all of our districts," Schoenbeck says. "Because of the critical role appraisers play in getting financing and dealing with the whole housing issues we've been talking about. It's our strong opinion that when Ms. Bren appears it should be about that and not personalities or personnel issues or anything like that."

A copy of the subpoena was not immediately available.

Gov. Noem has said her daughter did not receive special treatment in the licensing process. Noem has said she is trying to solve problems in the Appraisal Certification Program that are causing a shortage of appraisers.

The Executive Board did not approve a subpoena for any documents. Earlier this week, Kassidy Peters made public a "stipulation agreement" from August 2020, which outlined further education she needed to obtain her license.

The chairman of the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee, state Sen. Kyle Schoenfish, says the subpoena for documents is no longer needed.

“I think the documents substantially fulfill the information the committee was looking for,” Schoenfish says.

The governor's daughter, Kassidy Peters, also said this week that the controversy has negatively affected her business, and she is leaving the appraiser profession.

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