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Miller departs as Gov. Noem's fifth chief of staff

Mark Miller testifies in front of the House State Affairs committee.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s fifth chief of staff is resigning.

The move comes after a deputy chief of staff is also leaving the executive branch. Both cite moving closer to home for family.

The Dakota Scout is reporting Mark Miller is returning to Florida to work for a nonprofit. Miller replaced Aaron Scheibe as chief of staff in late 2021. Prior to taking the job he served as the governor’s general counsel.

Miller was known for pushing Governor Noem’s agenda, which led to sometimes-contentious interactions with the legislature.

Miller helped shepherd some changes to state law in 2021 law that restricts the ability of Game, Fish and Parks conservation officers from entering private property without permission.

The bill hearing led to a tense exchange with Republican Senator Lee Schoenbeck during a committee hearing, where he breaks decorum by responding directly to a question by naming the lawmaker.

“We don’t want to create a sword here for plaintiffs' lawyers to sue Game and Fish officers, which perhaps that’s what Senator Schoenbeck is looking for,” Miller said during the March 2, 2021, hearing. “In fact, if you look at the bill—”

“You know, we have rules about [that],” Schoenbeck interjected.

Miller is Noem’s longest serving chief of staff.

During the 2022 session, when pressed about the need for a ban on transgender girls playing in girls’ sports, despite the state athletic association having a policy in place, Miller offered a blunt assessment of the issue.

“By putting it in law, we are ensuring that what we are seeing happen all over the country does not happen in South Dakota,” Miller said on January 26, 2022. “It’s sort of like terrorism. You want to keep it over there, not let it get to here.”

Also leaving the Noem Administration is Rachel Oglesby, deputy chief of staff. It’s the third-such high-profile departure from the administration in two months. Economic Development head Steve Westra stepped down at the end of April.

In a statement, Governor Noem said she’s thankful for Mark and Rachel’s service to the state during the past several years.

"Both of their family situations made it advantageous for them to move back home, and we wish them well on that and all other endeavors," Noem said.

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.