PIERRE (AP) – South Dakota Senate Republicans on Wednesday rejected a proposal to require regular reporting on the use of the state's airplane fleet by Gov. Kristi Noem's administration.
The Republican governor has faced scrutiny for using state-owned airplanes to attend 2019 events hosted by political organizations like the National Rifle Association, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Women, Turning Point USA, and the Republican Jewish Coalition. State law does not allow the airplanes to be used for political purposes, but Noem's office defender her travel as part of “her official capacity as an ambassador for the state.”
Democratic Sen. Troy Heinert proposed requiring a report on how state airplanes are used every three months. The Department of Transportation opposed his bill, saying it would add require “significant” work.
“The people of South Dakota deserve to know where this plane is going, whose on it, and for what purpose,” Heinert told lawmakers. “They own the plane.”
However, a GOP-dominated Senate committee dismissed his proposal. Assistant Republican leader Sen. Mike Diedrich argued it was “political,” pointing out that flight logs are already available.
Lawmakers from both parties have also proposed requiring the governor to disclose the costs to provide security for her travel, but those proposals were dismissed by Republicans.