Noem's daughter says she's quitting real estate business

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's daughter on Tuesday said she would quit the real estate appraiser business following scrutiny over whether her mother used her influence to aid her application for an appraiser license.

Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters, slammed a legislative inquiry and news reporting on the episode in a letter to Secretary of Labor Marcia Hultman. She also released a document that a legislative committee was seeking to subpoena. Lawmakers were zeroing in on the timeline of a meeting Noem called last year that included Peters and key decision-makers in a government agency that had moved days earlier to deny her application for an upgrade to her appraiser certification.

“I am writing you today to express my disappointment and anger that my good name and professional reputation continue to be damaged by questions and misinformation concerning the Appraiser Certification Program,” Peters wrote to Hultman in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. KSFY first reported the contents of the letter.

She told Hultman she would turn in her appraiser license by the end of the year, adding “I’m angry and I can acknowledge that this has successfully destroyed my business.”

The Republican-dominated Government Operations and Audit Committee had requested the document to confirm what Hultman had told them last month — that state regulators had already decided to give Peters another chance to win her appraiser certification prior to the meeting in the governor’s mansion. Noem echoed that defense in a later news conference.

“The details of that agreement were discussed and in place prior to that meeting,” Hultman told lawmakers at the October meeting.

But the signed agreement with Peters is dated the week after the July 27, 2020 meeting.

The governor's office referred a request for comment to the Department of Labor and Regulation. The department in turn released a letter from Hultman to lawmakers that blamed the AP for giving “the impression I testified at the hearing that there was an agreement in place with Ms. Peters before the hearing.”

Hultman wrote that an AP reporter created an “inaccurate and a false narrative" and that she “never remotely gave the impression” during her testimony that the agreement had been signed before the meeting.

The AP has not reported that Hultman said the agreement was signed before the meeting. She told lawmakers in October that state regulators had worked out an agreement to allow Peters to seek further education and resubmit work samples to be reviewed for compliance with federal standards.

Hultman also told lawmakers she assumed that the former director of the Appraiser Certification Program, Sherry Bren, was part of the discussion to give Peters another opportunity to win her license.

However, the agreement with Peters was signed by another state employee, Amber Mulder, who was Bren's supervisor. Mulder was also in the meeting with the governor last year.

The committee was set to request final approval for a pair of subpoenas from a ranking legislative committee on Wednesday. Hultman asked for the subpoena for Peters' agreement be dismissed.

Besides pressing for the document that Peters released, the committee also wants to subpoena Bren.

The former director of the program was called into the July 2020 meeting and was later pressured to retire shortly after Peters received her license that November. Bren filed an age discrimination complaint and received a $200,000 payment from the state to withdraw the complaint and leave her job this year. Noem has said the settlement had nothing to do with her daughter.