Noem In Deep Trouble After Bragging About Dental Work

On Wednesday, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party demanded an investigation into Republican South Dakota governor Kristi Noem’s dental tourism to Texas and the accompanying promotional film, in which Noem expresses her gratitude to the dentists for providing her with a smile she can be proud of and confident in.

The approximately five-minute video was originally just strange to state Senator Reynold Nesiba. Upon subsequent viewing, he deliberated over further inquiries and requested that the Republican co-chairs of the Government Operations & Audit Committee of the Legislature include the subject on the agenda for their upcoming July meeting so that it might be discussed and questions addressed.

According to Nesiba, he is curious whether Noem flew on a state jet or spent taxpayer money on her trip to Texas, whether the governor footed the bill for her dental work, and whether she got a discount because of her video.

A lady who answered the phone at Smile Texas (in Houston) refused to talk with The Associated Press when asked to, citing privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. After asking whether the company intended to utilize Noem’s video for promotional purposes, the lady hung up.

Gifts of more than $100 given by lobbyists to public officials or members of their immediate families are illegal in South Dakota. A misdemeanor offense carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or a fine of $2,000. When asked if the gift restriction applies to non-registered lobbyists, the state attorney general’s office did not respond.

Paul Miskimins, a Republican and longtime dentist in South Dakota, has stated that he does not see anything wrong with Noem going out of state for dental care.

Among Noem’s prior ethical challenges was an investigation into her 2019 use of a state plane to travel to six events outside of South Dakota hosted by political groups. These groups included the National Rifle Association, Turning Point USA, Republican Governors Association, Republican Jewish Coalition, and Republican Governors Association. While the governor was on the road, her staff justified her travels by saying she was acting as an “ambassador” for the state in her efforts to boost the economy.

Noem was also attacked for taking her family on many travels with her. However, her administration has stated that there have been precedents from previous governors.

Since “state business” is not defined explicitly in South Dakota law, the state’s ethics board ultimately rejected the accusation that Noem traveled to the 2022 political events.