Charlie Neibergall / AP
South Dakota’s top law enforcement official said he was investigating a meeting that the Associated Press said took place in July last year between Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, his daughter , senior officials and the head of a real estate appraiser certification program.
The AP Reports that the governor’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, was initially denied her assessor license. Months later, however, Peters became a licensed residential appraiser. This is where Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says questions are being raised.
“I have been contacted by concerned citizens and lawmakers,” Ravnsborg says. “I am actively considering their concerns and will follow the steps prescribed by the consolidated law in relation to these matters.”
(A note on Ravnsborg: He recently unquestionably pleaded a pair of driving misdemeanor charges for his involvement in a fatal car crash that killed a South Dakota. This led Noem to push Ravnsborg to resign from his post. .)
At the time Peters was denied his license, Sherry Bren had been running the South Dakota program that certifies, authorizes and registers assessors for almost 30 years.
Last year, however, Bren says she was called by the South Dakota Secretary of Labor to talk about her retirement. In a complaint she later filed, Bren, who is 70, said she was given six months to retire due to her age.
Bren then withdrew her age discrimination claim against the state in exchange for a Settlement of $ 200,000, which also prevents Bren from disparaging state officials.
The AP questioned Noem about the reunion and about Bren’s forced retirement. In response, the governor’s spokesman accused the PA of politically attacking Noem.
“The administration made it clear that they saw no value in my experience, my involvement in ongoing projects or a transfer of my knowledge and in-depth institutional connections,” Bren wrote in an email to several reviewers. This year.
As part of the resolution of Bren’s age discrimination claim, the state Department of Labor and Regulation denies all of Bren’s allegations.
Appraisers assess the value of a property before a sale. Every state in the United States has a program that regulates the profession. In 1989, Congress passed a Banking Reform Act that required each state to follow a uniform valuation standard. Following the housing crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank Act added to these standards.
Bren was hired to create the South Dakota program that oversees all aspects of assessor certification.
“Appraisers were generally unregulated,” Bren says. “It was a very unique system – and still is – in which appraisers are regulated federally through state appraiser regulatory agencies.”
Bren says she wanted to stay in her role until 2022 in order to establish another program that would help more potential assessors achieve certification.
The new program would help meet federal requirements for trainees to become licensed or certified assessors. State has received a federal grant of $ 120,000 that would encourage assessors to work with beginning apprentices to bring new people into the field.
“It’s just hard to have these professionals in very small rural communities, which is a really big deal, because people always want to buy and sell property,” Bren says. “I would like to say that this is not unique to South Dakota. The shortage is identified across the country.”
In her email to Other Reviewers, Bren said she would never leave a project unfinished if given a choice.
“I sincerely regret not being able to work with you in my former role as Executive Director,” Bren wrote in the email.
The governor’s office declined to answer questions from South Dakota Public Broadcasting about the situation and recommended that a response come from the Department of Labor and Regulation. This department responded with an email saying it was not discussing the details of staff decisions.
Bren said it was not his choice to end his career.
“I was forced to retire,” Bren says. “I was 70 when this happened. I think I was seen as incapable of – being too old to do my job, or something – I don’t know what. I really don’t know . I was I didn’t want to leave in a few years, but it wasn’t my choice. “
Nationally, Bren was known as a “remarkable assetto the profession of appraiser. This was stated in a post on the Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials website when Bren quit her job.
Joe Ibach is part of the organization. He said the association was baffled when Bren’s retirement was announced.
“We thought, ‘How is that possible? “Ibach said.” She did an exceptional job for South Dakota. I still don’t understand why the state of South Dakota would drop such an asset. It puzzles me. “
Bren’s exit was noticed by others in the industry, says Jim Park, executive director of the review subcommittee, which was formed under a reform bill of Congress at the end of the 1980s. Oversees state programs that certify and license assessors.
“We were shocked,” Park says. “Sherry had never mentioned anything about his retirement.”
Bren was one of the longest-serving executive directors with a state-based regulatory assessment program in the country.