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Results of ethics investigation into Gov. Noem will remain confidential

Photo courtesy of Don Frankenfeld

A state panel that looked into alleged ethics violations by Gov. Kristi Noem says it will keep any actions against her confidential.

That's according to reporting by the Associated Press. Critics say the board should be transparent.

The government accountability board investigated whether Noem interfered in the process surrounding her daughter’s real estate appraiser license upgrade.

Last month, Board members voted unanimously to hold a contested case hearing for Noem to respond to findings of malfeasance and conflict of interest. The board reports it took "appropriate action," and closed the case.

The government accountability board is comprised of three retired judges.

The state legislature established the government accountability board after a government ethics and campaign reform package was thrown out in the courts following the 2016 election.

Don Frankenfeld backed the ballot question, known as IM 22. It established an ethics panel, among other things. However, Frankenfeld calls the legislative-adopted government accountability board a ‘pale imitation’ of the voter-approved idea.

“They’re good people. They don’t have an axe to grind as far as the governor is concerned, to my knowledge,” Frankenfeld said. “So, I’m perplexed why they aren’t transparent—why they don’t make everything public.”

Frankenfeld says the government accountability board is a step in the right direction, but he wishes it could do more.

“They’re intelligent, honest people,” Frankenfeld said, “But I wish that the ethics commission had more teeth. I personally wish that there’d been a requirement that they be fully transparent in their proceedings.”

According to state law, the board can issue a private reprimand.

Frankenfeld says revealing its actions would bring closure to the public.

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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