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South Dakota Democratic party calls for oversight on CARES Act funds

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announces on Monday, June 22, 2020, that city and county governments will be able to access federal coronavirus relief funds as she speaks at the Sioux Falls city hall in Sioux Falls, S.D.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announces on Monday, June 22, 2020, that city and county governments will be able to access federal coronavirus relief funds as she speaks at the Sioux Falls city hall in Sioux Falls, S.D.((AP Photo/Stephen Groves))
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 11:22 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The South Dakota Democratic Party is speaking out over Gov. Kristi Noem’s use of federal coronavirus relief funds, saying the party is “horrified” over what it calls lack of transparency behind the spending of those funds.

The party issued a statement Wednesday after Noem’s office announced the state is spending $5 million of the coronavirus funds on tourism ads that feature the governor.

“The lack of oversight and accountability should be troubling to everyone, regardless of party affiliation,” Chair of South Dakota Democrats Randy Seiler said. “Lawmakers have requested a special session for exactly this reason. $1.25 billion in taxpayer dollars should be used wisely to address the needs of South Dakotans.”

House representatives have asked the Gov. to call a special session since there wasn’t enough time for everyone to “provide their recommendations concerning the distribution of funds.” Forty-five different representatives signed the letter requesting the session.

The proposed session would provide the opportunity to discuss challenges to specific industries in the state like small businesses and restaurants, South Dakota Democrats say.

Also, education is a considerable concern for state democrats as they say additional funds “arrived too late.”

“As the school year approached, I witnessed social posts from teachers looking for donations of hand sanitizer, masks, Clorox wipes, and sharing ideas on how to create barriers to protect their students at a minimal cost,” Vice-Chair Nikki Gronli said. “Our schools should have had more funding earlier. Teachers shouldn’t have to beg for supplies to protect our children.”

South Dakota received $1.25 billion in funding through the CARES Act funding, some of which has been spent unemployment assistance, aid to city and local governments and state education - including an additional $75 million in funding Noem announced last week.

Black Hills FOX reached out to Noem’s office for a response to the Democratic party’s statement.

Ian Fury, Noem’s communication director said: “It’s unfortunate that Democrats don’t appreciate the importance of South Dakota’s second-biggest industry.”

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