PIERRE S.D. — America now knows the cost to put President Donald Trump's face on a miniaturized Mount Rushmore: $1,100.
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, a financial disclosure form from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics revealed that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivered Trump with a rumored — but, until now, unconfirmed — gift of a bronze bust of Mount Rushmore.
The gift fell under "Gifts and Travel Reimbursements," sandwiched between a championship belt from mixed martial artist Colby Covington, valued at $650, and a $6,000 laptop from Apple CEO Tim Cook. The form also noted that former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani provided the president free legal services.
On Thursday, Jan. 21, Noem's spokesman Ian Fury clarified that "private donations," not taxpayers' dollars, funded the unorthodox statuette. Fury did not respond to a request for information on the name of the sculptor.
But he did say the original New York Times story that reported the existence of a "four-foot replica" of Mount Rushmore — with Trump's face joining presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt — was accurate with respect to the replica's description. Fury noted the monument was "about half the width" as described in the story.
Trump visited the Black Hills on July 3 last year, addressing a crowd and kicking off the return to fireworks above the granite monument. Trum[p had reportedly previously told Noem it was his "dream" to be carved into the granite mountain in the Black Hills.
John Pelissero, a scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, wrote in an email that, given the private funding, he did not see "the appearance of an ethical conflict" with the governor's gift to Trump.
Particularly over the last year, Noem more frequently associated herself to the Republican president, inviting him to the July 3 fireworks celebration, campaigning for him, and even briefly becoming the subject of media speculation that she was being considered a replacement for Vice President Mike Pence on the Republican ticket.
Note: This story was updated at 9 a.m. Jan. 22, 2021, with additional details.