The governor’s office says the trip to her daughter’s wedding was part of the official business

The governor’s office says the trip to her daughter’s wedding was part of the official business

ModernizationKELOLAND News received the following information at 4:43 pm on Friday, September 19, 2022.

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – In response to a request for details on the May 30, 2019 flight in question, the South Dakota DOT provided the following information regarding who was on board at each leg of the flight.

All phases of the flight in question occurred on May 30, 2019. The flight legs and passengers on board are as follows:

Terminal 1 – from Pierre to Custer – no passengers on board;
Station 2 – Custer to Crimson – Governor of Noem, Beth Holtz and Ryan Tennyson;
Station 3 – Crimson to Aberdeen – Gov. Noem, Beth Holtz, Ryan Tennyson, Booker Noem,
Nash Grantham, Hunter Arnold, and Jack Ferguson
Station 4 – Aberdeen to Custer – Governor Noem, Beth Holtz, Ryan Tennyson, Booker Noem, Nash
Grantham, Hunter Arnold and Jack Ferguson;
Terminal 5 – Custer to Pierre – No passengers on board.

The Department of Transportation also provided justification for the trip, echoing Fury’s language from 2021, stating that “if the governor had not been able to use the state’s plane that day, hundreds of future teen community leaders would have been denied the opportunity to hear their opinion and ask questions.” on her “.

The wedding in question took place three days after Noem’s return to Custer. Along the way, she brought her son, two nephews, and a family friend.

KELOLAND News has confirmed more details about Governor Kristi Noem’s summer 2019 flight that used a state-owned aircraft to fly, in part, to attend the wedding of one of the governor’s daughters.

In response to a question about this particular trip, the response was sent to KELOLAND News RawStory In 2021 by that time Director of Communications Noem Ian Fiore.

On May 30, 2019, [Noem] She began her day in Custer, where she was helping her daughter Cassidy prepare for her wedding. She traveled from Custer to Vermillion to the Girls State meeting, where she spoke. Then she flew to Aberdeen for the Boise State meeting, where she also spoke. She was then taken to Custer, where she had started her day.

Statement from Ian Fury 2021

In addition to forwarding this statement, the governor’s office also added: “If the governor had not been able to use the state’s plane that day, hundreds of future teen community leaders would have been denied the opportunity to listen to their governor and ask her questions.”

Speaking to RawStory in 2021, Fury clarified the position of the governor’s office, saying, “Taking her on official travel is part of official travel, and the same goes for delivering her,” Fury said. “In the specific case of Custer, Governor Noem originally acquired Custer at her own expense.”

South Dakota’s law relating to the use of state vehicles, including aircraft, is short, but it does not run the risk of being called “excessively defined.”

5-25-1.1. State-owned or leased vehicles and aircraft to be used solely for state business Exceptions for vehicles Violation as misdemeanors civil action and penalty.

Vehicles owned or leased by the state may only be used in the management of state business. No government official or employee, except for the Governor, law enforcement officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, law enforcement officers of the Criminal Investigations Division, and conservation officers may use, or permit the use of, any state-owned vehicle other than in the conduct of state business. Nothing in this section prohibits any use of any State vehicle, if the supervising officials, in order to provide the most efficient use of State equipment or personnel, have given written instructions to any public servant to use a State vehicle for transportation:

(1) between the permanent residence of the employee and the work station; or

(ii) Between the employee’s temporary residence or dining place and the work station if it is set at a place other than the employee’s permanent residence.

For the purposes of this section, no aircraft owned or leased by the State may be used except in the conduct of the business of the State. None of the above exclusions apply in connection with the use of any aircraft owned or leased by the State or any of its agencies.

Violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree. The offender is also subject to a civil action by the State of South Dakota in circuit court to recover a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 plus ten times the cost to the state of misusing any state-owned or chartered aircraft. A lawsuit for recovery of civil penalty or damages, upon request, must be considered by a jury.

South Dakota Codified Law

Under state law, state vehicles are only allowed to be used on official state business. Some officials, such as the governor, highway patrols, DCI, and conservation officers, are allowed to use state-owned vehicles for other purposes (such as a highway patrol officer who may take the patrol car home with them). But most importantly, this exception to the government business only rule does not apply to any state-owned or leased aircraft.

Hughes State Attorney Jessica Lamy is currently receiving a formal complaint about Noem’s use of state aircraft, filed with former Attorney General (AG) Jason Ravensburg. The complaint was referred to the Government Accountability Board, which in turn referred it back to the AG office.

The current Mark Fargo AG, who was hired by Noem, chose to step down from handling the complaint, rather than put it in the hands of LaMie.

Speaking with KELOLAND on the morning of September 16, LaMie declined to discuss the details of the investigation, but said she had received the complaint from GAB and was meeting with DCI while the information was being collected.

The facts that Kelland knows are as follows:

A state plane flew from Pierre to Custer State Park, where she picked up Governor Noem, who had been helping to prepare her daughter’s wedding, and flew her to speak at the Girls’ State in Vermillion. From Vermillion, Noem flew to Aberdeen, where she spoke at Boys State. After Aberdeen, the state plane returned to Pierre, where it was based, but not before turning once more to Custer State Park, where Noem was deposited, with her son Booker, two nephews and a family friend, all of whom joined the flight at some point. Also on board were Deputy Chief of Staff Beth Hoults and Rapid Patrol Officer Ryan Tennyson.

Within state law, what exactly constitutes “acts of state” is not explicitly defined. Fury offered an explanation that the entire flight, even the part from Aberdeen to a private family function before the plane returned to the hangar at Pierre, constituted a government business, because it was returning the Governor from said business. However, this explanation may be up for debate.

Neil Fulton is Dean of the University of South Dakota Knutson School of Law. He spoke with KELOLAND News on Friday, noting that his views do not represent those of the law school or the Board of Trustees.

Fulton points out an interesting factor in the context of the discussion.

“I think the only thing that is curious in some situations, is that perhaps it is difficult to determine the full scope of the business of the state for a constitutional officer, like the governor, or like the attorney general, who has, you know, is a decidedly inherent mixture between personal and professional,” Fulton said. and political to some extent.

Simply put, there are relatively few instances in which a ruler acts fully in his personal, political or official capacity. “Sometimes you’re on the clock for all three of those things,” Fulton said.

“Let’s say you went to a college campus and gave a speech,” Fulton said. You will likely be talking about higher education and higher education policy, which is very much an item of government business. By its very nature, there is a political component to that, you are out in front of potential voters. And in a state like South Dakota, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet a friend or a friend’s child and have a personal conversation along the way.”

This axis of interest can be visualized as a triangle divided into three sections; Official, political and personal. Every action the ruler takes will fall somewhere inside this triangle.

focus of attention

Dinner at home with the family, for example, falls entirely in the “personal” corner, as far away from the “official” and “political” as possible. But where would a flight from a wedding to the Girls and Boys, back to the wedding with the family fall on that axis?

Most would certainly say that there was an official element to the journey, considering that Noem spoke as governor of the girls’ and boys’ state. The trip will likely have a political component as well, as any public speech by an official, whether for government business or not, is sure to affect public perception.

What may be the crux of the problem is the personal aspect of the trip, arguably the presence of the family, and the step of the journey, from Aberdeen to Custer State Park, the entire purpose of which was to deliver Noem to her daughter’s wedding.

Does having a personal element make the trip a personal one, or does having a formal motivation go beyond the personal element?

“I would say one of the questions here that I think the law leaves open is the phrase ‘used only in the conduct of state business,’” Fulton said. Or would you say that if there is any personal element that creeps in, that journey is tainted? “

Fulton also noted that state law allows exemptions for personal use of other state vehicles, but not aircraft.

“I think it’s certainly okay to look at the law and say that the legislature thought they could treat airplane use differently and more restrictively, where no one stops to get a gallon of milk on the way home on a plane,” Fulton said.

This highlights a possible reason why there is no exception for aircraft. While it is conceivable that an officer driving home in a state vehicle would make a short detour to pick up his child from school, or to get a gallon of milk from the store, these detours might seem less sensible in an airplane.

This could be due to more distances traveled by planes compared to cars, the higher cost of travel, or regulations on how planes travel, take off and land. It would be a huge difference between going around a few blocks to the local school to pick up your child, and flying a few hundred miles to do the same.

“There’s a reason you get on your plane and take off and head to a certain location,” Fulton explained. “You don’t really say all the way around, ‘Hey, let’s swing by and say hi to Bob because we’re driving past his house. “So I think the different nature of planes and cars is definitely a part of it.”

Anyone looking to determine if something was wrong, Fulton says, will try to analyze the intent of the body that set up the law in 2006, which was the public vote, which passed it in the election as an initiative. Any provision would likely need to take fully into account intent when the law that says “other than the conduct of government business” was approved.

Currently, this responsibility rests with the Hughes County Courthouse, with state attorney Lammy.

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