South Dakota agency head resigns amid scrutiny of Gov. Noem

Stephen Groves
Associated Press

Sioux Falls, S.D. – The director of a South Dakota agency has resigned amid scrutiny over Gov. Kristi Noem’s hands-on role in the agency prior to his arrival and as it was evaluating her daughter’s real estate appraiser license in 2020.

Scott Amundson, who took over the state’s Appraiser Certification Program last summer, told The Associated Press on Monday he had resigned but declined to publicly comment on his reasons for doing so. Amundson last year replaced the longtime director of the Appraiser Certification Program, Sherry Bren, after she was pressured to retire by Noem’s cabinet secretary during an episode that has drawn criticism of the governor from government ethics experts.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at a news conference in Sioux Falls, Idaho on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

A legislative committee looking into the issue has focused on events that happened prior to when Amundson took over, and he has not faced questioning from lawmakers about his leadership of the agency. Lawmakers have largely focused on a meeting the governor summoned Bren to while she was head of the agency.

Bren has told lawmakers that at the July 2020 meeting, which also included the governor’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, and Noem’s cabinet secretary, an agreement was formed that gave Peters an unprecedented third opportunity to meet federal requirements to obtain her appraiser license.

The Department of Labor and Regulation, which oversees the Appraiser Certification Program, confirmed the resignation, but spokeswoman Dawn Dovre said she could not comment further on a personnel matter.

Amundson had directed the agency since June last year.

Noem has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that instead of aiding her daughter’s application, she was addressing a shortage of certified appraisers and working to cut red tape.