PIERRE, S.D. — A subpoena for a South Dakota state agency to produce details of a plan for Gov. Kristi Noem's daughter to secure a realty appraiser license will not move ahead.
Sen. Kyle Schoenfish, chair of the Government Operations and Audit Committee, addressed the executive board of the Legislature on Wednesday, Nov. 17. He said the record the committee had sought from the Department of Labor and Regulation, which could provide clues about whether any political pressure came to bear on a state employee to aid the governor's daughter, Kassidy Peters, was no longer necessary.
Peters said she'd leave the field by year's end in a caustic Tuesday, Nov. 16, letter that blamed reporters and lawmakers for seeking to tarnish her reputation and family. The email included a stipulation agreement.
"I received the document in my state email and had it forwarded to [lawmakers on the committee]," said Schoenfish, R-Scotland. "So that subpoena will no longer be necessary."
The executive board did, however, vote 14-1 to ratify a second subpoena passed only two days earlier by the oversight committee, seeking in-person testimony from Sherry Bren, the former executive director of the realty appraisal certification program.
But Senate Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, who sent the entire executive board into a private recess after Schoenfish requested the vote, said that Bren's testimony should have a "limited scope."
"It's our strong opinion that when Miss Bren appears this should be about that [a bottleneck of realty appraisers] and not about personalities or personnel issues or anything like that," said Schoenbeck, R-Watertown.
It's still not clear that the document Peters emailed to lawmakers -- titled a "stipulation agreement" -- is the same document GOAC sought days earlier, when they approved by an 8-2 vote a subpoena demanding the Department of Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman turn over an "agreed disposition" between the agency and Peters in August.
Forum News Service has requested this clarification from GOAC members. In an email, Schoenfish wrote Peters' document was "responsive" to the subpoena.
While it's not immediately clear when Bren will appear before GOAC, it's also uncertain whether the committee will even entertain questions of Bren about the July 2020 meeting between her and Peters.
In July 2020, Noem, Peters, Bren, Hultman and attorneys met in a private meeting at the governor's residence that included discussion of Peters' troubles seeking a realty appraiser certification.
In March of this year, Bren was paid $200,000 by the state to withdraw an age discrimination complaint earlier this year. In an affidavit accompanying that complaint, Bren revealed details about that meeting and noted the 70-year-old was pushed into retirement shortly after Peters received her certification.