Kristi Noem promised transparency — but is among 5 governors defying records requests: report
When Kristi Noem was campaigning for governor of South Dakota in 2018, the far-right Republican promised transparency — vowing to "throw open the doors" of government if she won. But Noem's office, according to Associated Press reporter Stephen Groves, has denied records requests when it comes to how much her security detail is costing taxpayers.
Groves explains, "Her state is among half a dozen where governors' offices routinely block access to executive records, keeping the public in the dark about decision making and possible influence peddling by special interests."
The 49-year-old Noem, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, is popular with the MAGA crowd and was a hit when she recently spoke at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. But as Groves points out, it is unknown exactly how much her travels and the security involved are costing taxpayers.
Jack Marsh, co-founder of the nonprofit South Dakota News Watch, told AP that South Dakota's open records laws are "some of the weakest in the country" and warned, "Things that are in the public's interests are still being hidden from the public."
Groves notes that open-records laws, also known as "sunshine laws," exist in most states in the U.S. and "give the public insight into (a) governor's decisions." But according to Groves, Noem is among the governors who has "thwarted records requests by citing exemptions."
"Her administration has refused to disclose how much it costs to send state troopers with her as she travels the country campaigning for former President Donald Trump and raising her own campaign cash," Groves observes. "The governor's office has cited state law exempting security details from records requests and argued that providing the information would 'put lives in danger.' Several GOP lawmakers pushed the governor's office to disclose its annual security costs to the (South Dakota) Legislature, but Noem, a fellow Republican, pressured them to drop the matter."
Per the AP: "Noem and governors in five other states — Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey — have thwarted records requests by citing exemptions."