PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Family members of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem received more than $600,000 in funds from a state grant program pushed by the governor that directed federal coronavirus relief funds to small businesses.
A ranch belonging to Noem’s family, Racota Valley Ranch Partnership, received one payment of $500,000, and a business operated by her brothers, Rock and Robb Arnold, received payments of just over $100,000, according to records on the grant program.
The Legislature approved the grant plan in October, but the family businesses benefitted from adjustments the Republican governor made. The plan initially capped grants at $100,000, but later in the month, with plentiful federal funds at their disposal, Noem’s administration adjusted the grant cap to $500,000. The governor also later opened up a second round of grant applications to businesses hurt by the pandemic from September to November.
A total of 126 businesses across the state — less than 4% of grant applicants — received grants of $500,000. Some received even more because they applied in both rounds of applications. There is no indication that Noem played a part in the allocation of funds.
Noem — who is becoming a rising force in the GOP as the party tries to identify 2024 presidential candidates — once maintained part-ownership of the ranch, but her office said she no longer does.