Gienapp proposed that the Commission dismiss Complaint 2021-03 with respect to paragraphs (5) and (9) of SDCL 3-24-3. Gienapp further proposed that, pursuant to GAB Rule A. (c), the Board make an initial determination that the Complaint, with respect to paragraphs (2) and (4) of SDCL 3-24-3 , alleges sufficient facts to constitute a violation of SDCL 3-24-3 and, further, that appropriate action under Rule A.(c) has been taken and Complaint 2021-03 with respect to subdivisions (2) and (4) should be closed subject to counsel’s discretion to reopen the case, if deemed appropriate. Kean seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously [emphasis mine; Government Accountability Board, draft minutes, 2022.08.22].
The minutes indicate that measures have been taken; however, the GAB did not hold a public vote to take such action. The law creating the GAB is unclear, but for all other public boards or commissions, whatever a board may be allowed to discuss behind closed doors, they must open the doors to approve any action.
According to state law, “any official action concerning matters under this section must be done in an open official meeting.”
“It comes down to this council and how much does this council have to comply with the law on open meetings,” he said. “But you would still assume it’s a public board, it’s a government board and it has to comply with the Open Meetings Act unless otherwise stated and at this stage I don’t see where it is said that he can vote behind closed doors” [Annie Todd, “Ethics Board That Investigated Kristi Noem Is Under Fire for Vague Interpretation of Rules,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.09.02].
We should all bear in mind that the difficulty the Government Accountability Board faces with its relatively new and untested statutes is far less serious than the ethical soup that Governor Noem has prepared for herself by abusing the power of her office to her daughter’s professional gain. and his personal travel comfort and presidential campaign. But if we’re going to hold Governor Noem and other members of the executive branch accountable, we need an accountability council that can do its job properly, with public accountability.