22.938.10 97th Legislative Session 483
Introduced by: Representative Mills
A RESOLUTION, Addressing the Governor's unacceptable actions in matters related to the appraiser certification program.
WHEREAS, S.D. Const., Art. VI, § 27, provides that the blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles; and
WHEREAS, any person elected by the people to serve in a public office in this state must raise his or her right hand and pledge, in public, to support the Constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the words of the South Dakota Constitution, combined with the public oaths of office, constitute clear evidence that South Dakotans expect their elected office holders to adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards; and
WHEREAS, persons selected by elected officials to serve in governmental positions of authority are likewise bound to adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards; and
WHEREAS, in November 2018, Kristi Noem was elected as the Governor of this state—the highest position in state government—and thereafter appointed Marcia Hultman to serve as the secretary of the Department of Labor and Regulation; and
WHEREAS, the state appraiser certification program, which is under the auspices of the Department of Labor and Regulation, had Sherry Bren serve as director, from the inception of the program in 1991, until her departure in March 2021; and
WHEREAS, inquiries in recent months have discovered the following:
(1) The Governor’s daughter sought licensure as an appraiser and was twice denied for failing to meet the licensure requirements;
(2) On July 27, 2020, following a second licensure denial, the Governor held a meeting at the Governor’s mansion, which was attended by the Governor, Secretary Hultman, Sherry Bren, the Governor’s daughter, and other members of the Governor’s staff;
(3) At the meeting on July 27, 2020, the denial of licensure to the Governor’s daughter was discussed;
(4) Following the meeting on July 27, 2020, individuals under the direction of the secretary or the Governor, other than Sherry Bren, prepared a stipulation agreement that was dated August 7, 2020, and which provided the Governor’s daughter with an irregular third opportunity to meet the appraisal licensure standards; and
(5) In November 2020, the Governor's daughter was granted licensure as an appraiser; and
WHEREAS, on December 14, 2021, at a meeting of the Government Operations and Audit Committee, Sherry Bren testified that she was "nervous and quite frankly intimidated" during the July 27, 2020, meeting with the Governor at the mansion and that she was "not advised of any changes [that she] needed to make to the appraiser certification program" at that meeting; and
WHEREAS, in November 2020, shortly after licensure was granted to the Governor's daughter, Sherry Bren was asked to retire and did so unwillingly, in March 2021; and
WHEREAS, under subpoena, Sherry Bren testified that during her thirty-year term of employment with the State of South Dakota, she had no negative performance evaluations; and
WHEREAS, Sherry Bren filed an age discrimination complaint as a result of her forced retirement; and
WHEREAS, the matter was settled upon the signing of a non-disparagement agreement and a payment in the amount of two hundred thousand dollars to Sherry Bren; and
WHEREAS, the state of South Dakota incurred significant legal and administrative expenses as a result of these events, and has been detrimentally impacted by the actions of the Governor and government officials in this case:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Ninety-Seventh Legislature of the State of South Dakota, that in the opinion of the House, the actions of the Governor in this case were unacceptable, were injurious to the people of South Dakota, resulted in an unnecessary expenditure of state tax dollars, and were detrimental to the morale and steadfast dedication of our hard-working state employees; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the opinion of the House, the actions of the Governor failed to meet the expectations that South Dakotans have of their leaders, nor do they comport with the words of our Constitution or the spirit of the Governor's oath of office.
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