The South Dakota legislator questions Gov. Noem's Texas dentistry trip and commercial video.

On Wednesday, a Democratic legislator called for an investigation into South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's dental vacation to Texas and a promotional video in which she thanks the physicians for giving her “a smile I can be proud of and confident in

State Sen. Reynold Nesiba initially considered the approximately five-minute video unusual. After considering other questions, he urged the Legislature's Government Operations & Audit Committee's Republican co-chairs to debate and ask questions about the matter during their July meeting.

“I just thought it was a very strange video about how much she enjoyed having her teeth done at that particular place,” audit committee member Nesiba remarked. Nesiba wondered if Noem took a state plane or public monies to Texas and if the governor paid for her dental operation or discounted it due to her video.

Wednesday's concerns concerning Noem's promotional video posted Monday night to her personal X account praising Smile Texas's dentists and staff were ignored by her office. In the video, Noem thanked the dentists who “gave me a smile I can be proud of and confident in.” Noem, a probable vice-presidential pick of former President Donald Trump, identifies as governor of South Dakota and contains recordings of her appearing at a Republican Party event with Trump signs.

When The Associated Press called Smile Texas, a lady answered and asserted privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. When asked if Smile Texas will promote Noem's video, the woman answered, “No, she posted that,” and hung up.

South Dakota law prohibits lobbyists from giving public officials and their families over $100. A misdemeanor infraction can result in a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. No one from the state attorney general's office answered if the gift ban applies to non-lobbyists.

Noem's video, in which she says she went to Smile because it was “the best,” comes as South Dakota has spent $5 million on a workforce recruiting ad campaign in which she stars as a plumber, electrician, nurse, and other high-demand workers. Noem appears in one ad as a dentist in blue scrubs speaking over a patient while drilling.

Nesiba said the dentistry advertising “just undermines the millions of dollars that we have invested in her as being a spokesperson for South Dakota.” Paul Miskimins, a Republican former state representative who practiced dentistry in South Dakota for 37 years, said he had sought dental care from a friend in Canada and saw no problem with Noem doing so. Miskimins noted that celebrities regularly endorse dental work and wondered why a public person couldn't.

“I think that this is America, and we all have a right to choose where we receive care,” Miskimins added. A 2019 ethics investigation involved Noem's use of a state plane to attend six political events outside South Dakota hosted by the Republican Governors Association, Republican Jewish Coalition, Turning Point USA, and the National Rifle Association. The governor's staff justified the trips as her role as a “ambassador” to boost the economy.

Noem was attacked for taking family on multiple excursions. However, her administration stated that followed prior governors' precedent. South Dakota's ethics board dismissed Noem's 2022 political event flights allegation because state law doesn't define “state business.”However, the state ethics board said Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” by intervening in her daughter's real estate appraiser licensing application.

The governor intervened after a state body denied her daughter's appraiser licensing application in 2020. Noem assembled her daughter, the labor secretary, and the appraiser certification program's then-director to consider giving the governor's daughter, Kassidy Peters, another chance to fulfill federal appraiser criteria.

Noem says she obeyed the law when licensing her daughter and did not favor Peters. She was re-elected with 62% in 2022. University of South Dakota emeritus political science professor Michael Card said he doesn't know the governor's reason for the film but found it intriguing.

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