Sherry Bren testified before a legislative panel for the first time since September, when The Associated Press first reported about it. Noem, who has made herself a potential candidate for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024 by promoting herself as an appraiser certification program state, is now asking the panel questions.
The meeting took place in July 2020, a week after Noem's daughter Kassidy Peters was notified by the agency that her application didn't meet federal requirements. It was heading for denial.
Bren, who is the Appraiser Certification program's long-serving director, stated that she expected to see her governor and her labor secretary, but was surprised by the presence of Peters and other top aides. She stated that she was nervous and intimidated by Noem's statement that South Dakota is the most difficult state in which to become an appraiser. She also said that she wanted to "get the bottom of it."
Bren stated that Peters' failed application was discussed and a plan was made to allow her to apply again. Bren stated that the plan was in the form of a "stipulation agreement", which was unusual because Peters was allowed to submit a third time for a work review.
Noem denied wrongdoing and portrayed her actions as an attempt to reduce red tape in order to address the shortage of appraisers licensed by the state.
Noem said to the crowd Monday that there has been a persistent narrative that she did something to help her become licensed.
Marcia Hultman (Noem's Secretary for Labor) previously stated to the committee that Peters was treated in the same manner as other applicants. Hultman stated that Peters was not a common applicant to meet with top administration officials. However, she said the meeting at the governor's mansion last year did not affect how the department handled Peters application. This was because regulators had already created a plan to allow her to fix any mistakes and try again.
Noem had offered a similar defense to reporters. She stated that "the decision was already taken on her path forward" and that the agreement had not been even discussed at the meeting. Peters had only shared "her personal experiences through this program."
Bren said that lawmakers were not aware of the discussions at the meeting. He stated that the focus was on creating a second agreement that would require Peters to take the classes. Peters agreed that he would complete the classes, correct the appraisal reports and rewrite them and submit them to the examiner for review.
The agreement was signed over a week after the meeting.
Subpoena forced Bren to appear Tuesday. After Peters received her license in November 2020 and she filed an age discrimination suit, Bren was forced to retire. She also accepted a $200,000 settlement which bars her from disparaging officials of the state.
Bren stated that she was "forced" to retire.
Fast two months have passed since the committee began its inquiry.