PIERRE S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem applauded on Twitter President Trump's last-minute pardoning for "5 South Dakotans," but she did not mention the sixth Rushmore State resident pardoned by the president: Republican operative and money-launderer Paul Erickson.
Noem's spokesman says this was not an unintended sleight.
"It's safe to say that her gratitude extends to the five pardons directly referenced," said Ian Fury, in an email on Wednesday, Jan. 20. "(A)nd she had nothing whatsoever to do with the Erickson pardon."
Erickson was sentenced in the U.S. District Court of South Dakota in Sioux Falls by Judge Karen Schreier in July to seven years in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering, related to his scheme to defraud investors in an oil investment.
In a 2018 search warrant for his arrest, authorities filed an affidavit alleging Erickson defrauded investors with a venture in western North Dakota's Oil Patch that never materialized.
"Instead, the money was used for flights, motels and other personal expenses incurred by Erickson," said the FBI.
Erickson, included in Trump's Tuesday night pardon tranche of over 100 Americans, gained public notoriety as the boyfriend to Russian gun-rights activist Maria Butina, who spent five months in federal prison for failing to register as a foreign agent. Butina was deported to Russia in 2019.
The other South Dakotans whose felony convictions were forgiven by Trump included a posthumous pardon for Martin Jorgensen, a Tripp County rancher whose along with his son Martin and daughter-in-law Deborah, was convicted in the 1990s for fraudulently mixing commercial beef with their own lean beef.
Noem called their convictions "an aberration" and "significant blemish" for the family.
The other two South Dakotans to receive pardons included Jessica Frease, a Rapid City woman who stole over $3,000 in checks, and John Nystrom, who pled guilty in 2009 to double-billing the Crow Creek Tribal School for contractor work.
Noem, who is attending Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, said she could "personally speak to John's character" and noted that Frease, an "avid outdoorswoman," seeks to have her legal right to own firearms restored.
On his last night in office, Trump pardoned scores of Americans, including former adviser Steve Bannon and Elliott Broidy, a leading fundraiser for his 2016 campaign.
Last month, Trump pardoned former political helpers Paul Manafort and Roger J. Stone Jr., as well as a quartet of private contractor Blackwater employees who were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians.