South Dakota governor's race: Kristi Noem opts for veteran benefit over SDPB debate
Check out this photo gallery to see what Monday night had in store for all three of South Dakota's gubernatorial candidates
Gov. Kristi Noem opted not to attend a gubernatorial debate Monday night in Sioux Falls hosted by South Dakota Public Broadcast, instead throwing a “Salute to Veterans” campaign event about a mile away at the Military Heritage Alliance.
More than 750 people attended the campaign event, which included an auction and dinner.
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Campaign staffers for Kristi for Governor, including Ben Koisti, helped usher attendees through the food line during a break from the program’s ceremonies. The campaign has faced accusations that the event is a violation of election laws, with critics characterizing it as exchanging goods and services for votes. No voting took place on the premises.
“The event tonight is a ticketed event and is open to the public - it is not a campaign fundraiser and is not a get out the vote rally. The purpose of the event at the Alliance tonight is to honor veterans, not recruit voters,” Noem’s attorney, Matt McCaulley, said in a statement sent to The Dakota Scout. “Any and all proceeds of this event benefit non-profit veterans organizations, and the use of campaign funds for this purpose is specifically authorized under South Dakota law (SDCL 12-27-50)."
Meanwhile, Democratic nominee for governor, Rep. Jamie Smith, engaged in SDPB’s debate. Smith has criticized Noem for not participating in multiple debates as part of her re-election campaign.