Noem staffer: Donor witness story unbalancedA staffer for U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said an Associated Press story this week on Noem having political donors testify at congressional hearings was unfair.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
A staffer for U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said an Associated Press story this week on Noem having political donors testify at congressional hearings was unfair.
According to the story, which The Daily Republic published Tuesday, Noem has twice in the last four months held or testified at congressional hearings, one in South Dakota and the second in Washington, where witnesses testified who between themselves have donated more than $19,000 in campaign contributions to her.
No laws were broken by having her supporters testify, but a watchdog group said in the AP story it raised questions.
“I think this shows the relationship between members of Congress and their contributors,” said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group that focuses on government transparency, was quoted as saying.
Joshua Shields, Noem’s communications director, said the story failed to acknowledge that such situations are common for lawmakers from South Dakota.
“It’s a small state, small donor base,” Shields said Tuesday.
Shields said the last field hearing held by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., who Noem defeated last November, featured witnesses who had donated to Herseth Sandlin’s campaigns.
At a House Agriculture Committee field hearing on the farm bill held in Sioux Falls on May 18, 2010, witnesses who reportedly had given or had ties to $21,250 in contributions to Herseth Sandlin’s campaign testified.
Shield said he tried to point this out to the AP writer but was unable to connect with him due to another appointment the reporter had.
Shields said he feels the story was lacking in background.
“I don’t think it was very well balanced,” he said.
Shields’ statements matched comments on the Noem donor story posted on South Dakota War College, a popular South Dakota political blog with a conservative take on issues.
The South Dakota War College post named the three donors who testified at Herseth Sandlin’s field hearing and listed the amount of money they or their companies had given to her campaigns.
* Dr. Scott Weishaar, Poet’s vice president of commercial development, Sioux Falls. The POET political action committee gave $10,000 to Herseth Sandlin.
* Doug Sombke, farmer, Conde, $1,250. Sombke is also the president of the South Dakota Farmers Union. The National Farmers Union gave $9,750 in PAC contributions to Herseth Sandlin.
* Gary Duffy, farmer, Oldham, $250.