Kristi Noem Denies She Intervened to Get Daughter's Appraiser License Approved by State

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem denied intervening to get the real estate appraiser license application for her daughter, Kassidy Peters, approved by the state, the Associated Press reported.

"I never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy," Noem said in a video posted to YouTube. "She is my daughter and I'm proud of her. I raised her to accomplish things on her own."

In July of 2020, Noem held a meeting with Peters and the state employee who was overseeing her daughter's application. The Department of Labor and Regulation had moved to deny Peters the license prior to the meeting. However, Peters received her certification as a residential appraiser four months later, in November of 2020, according to the department.

Noem did not mention the July 2020 meeting in her office or that the agency had indicated it would deny the license in the video released Friday. Noem insisted Peters had met the same requirements as other appraisers, taking 200 hours of classroom education and gaining more than 1,500 hours of experience over the course of more than a year.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kristi Noem
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem released a video on October 1, 2021, in which she denied intervening to help her daughter get her real estate appraiser license. Above, Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021, in Dallas, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A week after Peters received her license, the state employee who directed the agency was allegedly pressured to retire by Noem's Cabinet secretary. The state employee, Sherry Bren, eventually received a $200,000 payment from the state to withdraw an age discrimination complaint and leave her job.

The state's attorney general, as well as Republican and Democratic lawmakers, are looking into the episode.

Until the video, Noem had released limited statements about the meeting, calling AP's report a political attack and insisting she didn't seek special treatment for her daughter.

The Department of Labor and Regulation has denied a record request from AP for agreements between the agency and Peters that would shed light on how Peters' application progressed and whether her work samples met federal standards.

Although the department acknowledged those records state they are open to public inspection, the agency's attorney argued that they were exempt. An appeals office later ruled that the department was right to deny the records.

However, Brad Johnson, an appraiser from Watertown, was riled by the department's decision to withhold the documents.

"Any appraiser understands that anything we sign with the state of South Dakota can be public," he said.

Noem, 49, has generated speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run bid by forming a federal political action committee, assisting with campaigns across the country and attending many of the same events as other potential GOP hopefuls.

Though Noem has said she is focused on reelection in 2022 and hasn't publicly indicated that she plans a White House bid, she has visited the key early presidential campaigning states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and shown a willingness to jab at potential rivals.

In a statement released with the video Friday, the governor's office said the shortage of appraisers is a nationwide problem that had been exacerbated in South Dakota due to barriers to getting certification. In the video, the governor said that since her daughter's certification, she has made "changes to the process to streamline it for the future." The certification program no longer requires people looking to get an entry-level license to take a test.

"My administration started fixing that process and it was way too difficult," she said. "Appraisers weren't getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a home than in other states."

However, the governor's ability to change the program is limited because the state must meet federal standards for certifying appraisers.

In its statement, the governor's office included quotes from three real estate professionals who praised Noem's move.

"It is way too tough for young folks to enter this field," said Brian Gatzke, an appraiser from Brookings.

However, Johnson, the appraiser from Watertown, said that the governor's "apparent interference" in the licensing of her daughter has worried other appraisers in the state. Federal regulators are auditing the certification program, raising concern that if they find something amiss, it could affect everyone with an appraiser license from South Dakota.

"Any appearance that something is not right in our appraiser certification program puts a black eye on the industry and we don't appreciate it," he said.

Kristi Noem
South Dakota Republican and Democratic legislators said on September 29, 2021, that they want more details from Governor Kristi Noem's administration on a meeting last year that included the governor, her daughter and state employees overseeing an agency that had moved to deny her daughter's application to become a certified real estate appraiser. Above, Noem speaks during the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 16, 2021. Charlie Neibergall, File/AP Photo