S.D. Governor's Daughter Quits in 'Disappointment and Anger' as Officials Look at How She Got Her Job

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Kristi Noem and her daughter Kassidy Peters
Kristi Noem and her daughter Kassidy Peters

Kassidy Peters/ instagram Gov. Kristi Noem (left) and Kassidy Peters

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's daughter will quit her job as a real estate appraiser and give up her license — saying the scrutiny of her position had become toxic and overbearing — as lawmakers push for more information on whether her mom may have inappropriately boosted her career.

"I'm writing to you today to express my disappointment and anger that my good name and professional reputation continue to be damaged," Kassidy Peters said in a letter to South Dakota's Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman on Tuesday, according to Dakota News Now. "It is clear that none of this will stop until my reputation and that of my young family are destroyed."

Noem, a Republican, has said she did nothing wrong. Peters wrote in her letter that she was "proud that I was able to complete the certification under the stringent standards established by the Program."

The saga of Peters' real estate appraiser license began in July 2020, when her application to be certified was originally denied. Days later, Noem held a meeting at the governor's mansion with Sherry Bren, the state employee who ran the agency that rejected her daughter's application, as well as Bren's supervisor and others. Peters also attended the meeting.

Her license was eventually granted in November 2020. Shortly after, Bren was allegedly pressured by the labor secretary to retire from her position as Executive Director of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program, which she held for decades.

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Bren filed an age discrimination complaint with the agency but ultimately left her job in March after the state paid her $200,000 to withdraw the complaint, the Associated Press reported in September.

Noem defended herself and her daughter in a video she tweeted on Oct. 1. "I never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy. She is my daughter and I'm proud of her," she said then. "I raised her to accomplish things on her own just like my parents raised me."

The governor also addressed Bren's tenure at the certifying agency. "I'll be honest, my administration started fixing that process and it was way too difficult. Appraisers weren't getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a home than in other states. This system had been broken for decades," she said. "It was designed to benefit those who were already certified and keep others out. The person in charge of the appraisal certification process had been in that role for 40 years."

Kristi Noem
Kristi Noem

Brandon Bell/Getty Gov. Kristi Noem

This week, lawmakers finalized a subpoena to compel Bren to testify before the Government Operations and Audit Committee as part of their inquiry into the matter of how the governor's daughter got her license after initially being denied certification.

"It's important that we make sure we're protecting the employees of our state," Rep. Chris Karr, a Republican committee member, told the AP, indicating that at least part of the investigation focuses on why Bren was asked to leave her position. "We're trying to sort out all the facts."

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In her letter to Secretary Hultman, Peters wrote that "the entire inquiry and media pressure have done irreparable damage to my business. My business is finished and the years I spent working to become licensed amount to nothing. So, I've decided I will no longer accept new appraisal orders and will wrap up the few pending orders I do have. I will plan to turn in my license and dissolve my business by the end of the year."

The investigating committee also reportedly expressed its interest in an agreement that was signed a week after the July 2020 meeting, allowing Peters another opportunity to pursue the license. That agreement — which the committee intended to subpoena — was also published by Dakota News Now on Tuesday.

Hultman had testified in October that the agreement was reached before the meeting at the governor's mansion, even though it was signed after.

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"I believe a key piece of the issue is the timing of the agreement between the Appraiser Certification Program and Kassidy Peters," South Dakota Republican Sen. David Wheeler told the AP. "Secretary Hultman said an agreement has already been made before the meeting at the residence. I simply want to confirm that."

In her letter, Peters implied that she wants the scrutiny to end.

"I know as the Governor's daughter I am always going to be in the public eye," she wrote. "I can't stop these attacks, but I can choose whether to keep being hurt by the fallout."