TO: Interested Parties

FROM: The South Dakota Democratic Party

DATE: May 15, 2018

RE: Noem v. Jackley – If either wins, South Dakotans lose


The primary election for the Republican nomination for governor is 3 weeks away. While we don’t know yet who the Republican nominee will be, we do know whoever it is will have serious questions to answer about his or her record.

Over the course of the primary election campaign, and throughout their political careers, both Rep. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley have shown a pattern of putting themselves and their own interests ahead of South Dakotans. Both Noem and Jackley have received donations from those with contracts with state government or from those actively involved in lawsuits with the state – raising concerns about possible favoritism or pay-to-play relationships if either becomes governor. Both Noem and Jackley have taken numerous days off of work they were elected by South Dakotans to do in order to campaign for another political office.  

Pay-to-Play Questions

As detailed in an Argus Leader article published online on March 16, 2018, donations made to both Kristi Noem and Marty Jackley raise serious questions about the possibility of pay-to-play relationships between them and their contributors if either is elected:

Marty Jackley

  • The Friends of Marty Jackley PAC reported just one in-state PAC contribution in his 2016 year-end report, a $20,000 donation from the Woods Fuller Law Firm’s Second Century PAC given sometime between the November 2016 general election and the end of the 2016 calendar year.  In that very same time frame, Republican lawmakers hired Woods Fuller as the legal firm to challenge and eventually defeat Marty Jackley’s office in the legal battle against the voter-approved Initiated Measure 22. Woods Fuller’s PAC contributed another $15,000 in 2017, but this time to Marty Jackley’s candidate committee. Jackley is the only candidate Woods Fuller gave to in 2016 and 2017, and the timing of the first $20,000 raises serious questions about the potential impropriety of that sizeable gift from the law firm Jackley was supposed to be opposing in court.   
  • Jackley’s latest year-end report also listed several examples of potential pay-to-play like $2,000 in photography services from someone whose company has done several photo and video projects for state agencies, $980 in web and IT services from a firm that’s collected $1.9 million in state money since 2011 for work across 11 state agencies including the Governor’s Office, $1,950 in event expenses from a firm that’s done legal consultation work for the Attorney General’s Office and collected $313,988 in state payments from various agencies since 2011, $3,493 in event expenses from a media firm which has produced radio ads for the AG’s office, the Department of Agriculture and Department of Tourism, collecting $217,792 since 2014. More examples are apparent upon review of the report.

Kristi Noem

  • Kristi Noem lists no in-kind donations in her reports, but $3,000 in contributions this cycle from members of the Sioux Falls family whose company feeds inmates in the state prison system, $8,000 in recent donations came from a Rapid City family whose company has collected more than $4.9 million fueling state vehicles, and a $2,100 donation from a campaign advisor whose law firm has collected $111,775 since 2012 doing legal consultation work for a half-dozen state agencies.

Skipping Work to Campaign

Instead of focusing on doing the jobs they were elected to do, both Noem and Jackley have been absent from their offices in Washington and Pierre as they campaign for their next taxpayer-funded job.

Kristi Noem missed 26% of the roll call votes held in the House of Representatives in 2018, including missing 62% of the votes in April.

Instead of attending to the business of his office, according to posts on his social media accounts Marty Jackley has held at least 45 campaign events during business hours in 2018 alone.


No matter the winner of the Republican primary, that candidate will have deep vulnerabilities going into the general election. After numerous state government scandals, South Dakotans are ready to turn the page on the culture of corruption in Pierre. And the hardworking people of this state will not appreciate a candidate who did not show up to do the work they were hired to do – all while still collecting their full paycheck funded by the taxpayers. This memo touches only a fraction of the poor records of Kristi Noem and Marty Jackley.