South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, is no paragon of virtue. She’s a proponent of the Big Lie, a science denier, a cultist dedicated to the previous president, and she’s wholly unethical. We no longer expect right wingers in positions of power to be ethical or forward-thinking, but we’ve sadly come to expect them to be regressive and immoral. Governor Noem is a face of today’s QAnon party, much as the backwards and nefarious Rep. Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Greene (R-GA) are representative of the party.
Noem is drawing ire for her misuse of South Dakota’s state aircraft. Funded by taxpayers, the state’s airplanes and vehicles are intended to be used only for state business. The governor has used state-owned aircraft as her personal air shuttle, attending right-wing political events out of state, going to NRA functions, and even to run errands in preparation for her daughter’s wedding. Noem doesn’t make a distinction between duties related to her governorship and her personal affairs. In fact, Noem reminds us of King Louis XIV of France who said “l’état, c’est moi,” or “the state, it is I.” Like the notorious king, Noem seems to think she is the state and exempt from respectable ethics or accountability.
South Dakota law prescribes a fine of $1000 plus ten times the cost incurred for each occurrence of misuse. As expected, Governor Noem denies that her use of the state’s planes has been unlawful, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Currently the governor is urging South Dakota to purchase a new airplane, no doubt so that she can have luxurious private transportation at the taxpayers’ expense.