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Legislative leaders request details of the Freedom Works Here contract
The Executive Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to draft a letter asking the Governor's Office of Economic Development for more information on how the contract was awarded to an Ohio firm.
SIOUX FALLS – Leaders of the South Dakota Legislature want to know more about the details of the contract with an Ohio firm to produce and place the advertising for Gov. Kristi Noem’s campaign to attract workers to the state.
The legislature’s executive board on Tuesday, Nov. 14, voted unanimously to send a letter to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development requesting more information on how the Freedom Works Here contract was awarded to Go West Media, a company with political ties to the governor.
The letter will ask for details on the request for proposals process, the companies that applied, how the submissions were prepared, the criteria used for the selection, who determined the criteria and the individuals involved in the submission process.
The deadline for the GOED to answer the request is Dec. 18.
Documents show that Go West Media didn't provide the requested breakdown of how $5 million in state funds would be spent but still won the marketing contract to attract workers to South Dakota.
Rep. Chris Karr, a Sioux Falls Republican, asked the board to make the request. Karr said he’s been given information regarding the contract and there are enough “red flags” to justify gathering more information.
“The question is what has occurred,” he said. “There is lot of speculation about what took place.”
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There was no discussion among the board members before the 14-0 to draft the letter.
The contract with Go West Media has raised questions about the intermingling of political and public interests because the firm was engaged in Noem’s reelection campaign in 2022.
The request for proposals was published on Jan. 13, one day after Go West registered in South Dakota as a “doing business as” for Strategic Media Placement.
The $5 million marketing effort featuring Gov. Kristi Noem has attracted attention but there's no way to tell how many people moved to the state
Strategic Media Placement is a subsidiary of The Strategy Group, which is a consulting firm that primarily focuses on campaigns for national and state-level Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump.
The Strategy Group’s CEO is Ben Yoho, who is also the CEO of Republican Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign. Yoho is connected to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager in 2016 and an informal adviser to Noem.
Noem and Lewandowski have been reported to have a romantic relationship in articles published by the Daily Mail of London and The New York Post.
The Executive Board is made up of the leadership of the Senate and House. Among the board’s duties is oversight and analysis of the management of the executive branch, which includes the governor’s office and departments.
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