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Next step in Noem appraiser controversy is written report

Lee Strubinger
Sherry Bren testifies Tuesday to the Government Operations and Audit Committee at the Capitol in Pierre, as her lawyer, Tim Rensch, looks on.

A written report is the next step for a committee investigating whether the governor's daughter received special treatment from a state program.

Earlier this week, the former head of the state's appraiser certification program, Sherry Bren, testified to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. Bren outlined a third opportunity the governor's daughter received to get an appraiser license.

Most applicants only get two. Gov. Kristi Noem has said she's trying to fix an appraiser shortage in the state, and has said her daughter did not receive special treatment.

The Government Operations and Audit Committee is done meeting for the year and does not typically meet during the legislative session from January to March.

Republican Rep. Randy Gross is the incoming chair of the committee. He's compiling a report on facts gathered about the appraiser certification program.

“The process we’ll do is I’ll continue to update that based on what we heard today,” Gross said Tuesday. “But it’s going to go through the committee by email process since we don’t have a committee meeting scheduled. But, the committee is going to all have to buy off on those and feel comfortable with all of them before we make anything like that public.”

Gross is unsure what will happen after the report is finished.

A Democrat on the committee wants the report sent to a government ethics board comprised of retired judges in the state.

Rep. Linda Duba said action should be taken.

"Clearly, I think what has to happen—we're going to get a summary of the facts. Those facts need to be shared with the Government Accountability Board," Duba said. "So that they have the ability to determine and possibly take action in this case."

Actions by that board could include a public or private reprimand.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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