Daughter of Governor of South Dakota, Noem Gets Extra Chance to Get Real Estate License, According to Testimony

Sherry Bren, former executive director of the South Dakota Assessor Certification Program, was called on July 27, 2020, to meet with Noem and discover that Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, was applying to become become a state-certified real estate appraiser at that time. time, was also present with other top public officials including the state’s Secretary of Labor.

Prior to that point, Peters had difficulty meeting the state’s criteria to complete the process because of deficiencies in her work, documents obtained by CNN show.

Bren testified Tuesday that she was nervous and “threatened” when she arrived at the July meeting with the governor, in part because she didn’t expect too many state officials to be present.

Bren alleges that she was forced to retire a few months later “at the behest of the Administration”, as first reported by Related press. However, in testimony before the South Dakota legislature’s Joint Government Operations and Auditing Committee on Tuesday, Bren said she could not speculate on why she was forced out.

After leaving state government, she filed an age discrimination complaint against the state and received a $200,000 settlement.

Noem, a potential Republican candidate for the White House, has insisted that she is not seeking special treatment for her daughter and that Bren’s departure from state government is linked to longstanding problems. Long tenure in the appraiser program has contributed to property shortages. state appraisers.

The Associated Press reports that Peters is facing a denial of her certification when the July meeting takes place, but state officials told CNN there is no final refusal on Peters’ application. South Dakota state officials provided CNN with a regulatory agreement showing that a mentoring plan has been drawn up for Peters to complete her certification, by August 5, 2020 — days after the meeting of the board. Bren with the governor and other state officials.

Bren testified Tuesday that Peters was notified by mail prior to a July meeting with the governor and her staff that her application was insufficient, circumstances that could lead to her denial of the application. Apply to become a certified appraiser.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Bren testified for the first time about what happened at a meeting with the governor in July 2020 – making it clear that the governor was upset about the “serious shortcomings” that had been identified. specified in her daughter’s application.

Bren said in her testimony that a regulatory settlement prepared by state officials for Kassidy Peters essentially gave her a third chance to correct the problems in her application, this is not normal. Typically applicants have two opportunities to address deficiencies in their work, including an assessment of the applicant’s completion and being reviewed by an external reviewer, before their application is rejected. denied, she testified.

A spokesman for Noem, Ian Fury, contradicted Bren’s assertion that the arrangement for Peters was unusual in a statement Tuesday. The governor’s office provided reporters with documents showing how a 2017 applicant reached an agreement with state officials to complete his real estate appraiser certification with a regulatory settlement. regulations drawn up by state officials, in a process that Fury says is similar to that of Peters. Documents show Bren signed that 2017 agreement with the applicant.

“The reality is not exactly that there isn’t a pre-specified agreement,” Fury said. “Governor Noem has not sought special treatment for her daughter, and the regulatory agreement Ms Peters put in place demonstrates that there are additional requirements she must meet in order to obtain certification.”

In her testimony on Tuesday, Bren said that as the program’s executive director, she would be responsible for giving notice of rejection to any applicant whose job did not meet the requirements. the criteria for approval, but the Secretary of Labor. will have the final say on the refusal.

Noem and Bren offer different accounts of the meeting

Noem said the story of her daughter’s application was “twisted” and “manipulated” and she still maintains that the July 2020 meeting she held with Bren and state officials had focus on “fixing the appraiser program,” which she said has “long been broken,” limits the number of real estate appraisers available in the state.

4, Noem said the meeting was not called to discuss her daughter’s application. However, she admitted that her daughter spoke at the meeting about her personal experiences on the show and gave her views on her time with the program and how difficult it was.

But Noem’s account that the July 2020 meeting with Bren and state officials touched on only her daughter’s application contrasts with Bren’s testimony on Tuesday that Peters’ application was discussed in detail. .

Bren said the meeting was “a bit ambiguous for me” because when she arrived, “I was very nervous and quite frankly threatened,” she told state lawmakers Tuesday.

“The governor started the meeting essentially with this statement: ‘I know for a fact that South Dakota is the hardest state to get licensed as an appraiser, and I plan to go into this,'” Bren recalls.

Bren said at one point during the meeting that she mentioned a series of assessment classes that would be helpful for Peters to participate. “The governor was upset because she just heard about these classes,” Bren said Tuesday.

The meeting included discussion, Bren said, about drafting a new agreement that would allow Peters to complete the program – including certain appraiser classes that Peters could take, and a process for her to “fix” and rewrite” the appraisal reports that are part of her application so that they can be reviewed.

“After the meeting, I returned to my office to learn that a second agreement would be offered to Peters covering the terms and conditions discussed at the meeting and it would be mailed to she signed,” Bren said. “I was not notified of any changes that I needed to make to the appraiser certification program.”

Bren testified that she never received negative reviews for her work before being forced into retirement by state officials. But she said she was unable to answer some of the lawmakers’ questions about the circumstances of her departure because of an “indisputable” clause in her settlement with the state.

At the end of Tuesday’s legislative hearing, South Dakota Senator Reynolds Nesiba, a Democrat, argued that the state should remove the inequality clause in Bren’s settlement so she can could speak more freely about what happened.

“This is a question about – as a long-time, dedicated employee, was she fired the wrong way?” And we won’t know the answer to that because the clause doesn’t matter. this denigration.”

“What we really need is to get rid of this non-derogatory clause and then I think we can have a bit more insight into what really happened in that meeting at that mansion, ” Nesba said.

This story was updated with additional details on Tuesday.


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