South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s office refuses to say which “legal experts” advised her against signing a bill that would prevent biological males from competing in girl’s sports.
When the state legislature first announced that it planned to pass a bill promoting fairness in women’s sports, Noem tweeted that she was eager to sign the legislation supported by a majority of registered American voters and largely supported by the GOP.
“In South Dakota, we’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women’s sports! I’m excited to sign this bill very soon,” she wrote.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 8, 2021
Shortly after the bill came across her desk, however, Noem issued a “style and form” veto, citing unfounded concerns about potential legal fights with NCAA peddled to her by several unnamed legal experts. Instead, she sent the legislation designed to prohibit biological males from playing on female teams back to the GOP-controlled legislature with her own proposed revisions including excluding higher education from the provisions in the bill and killing legal avenues provided to girls in K-12 schools if they are set back by biological males who play on their team.
When asked by The Federalist who these legal experts that Noem based her decision on were, the governor’s office refused to answer, claiming that they did not have “permission” to release their identities.
“I can’t release the names of the legal experts without their permission. You would certainly recognize their names,” Noem’s communications director Ian Fury wrote.
Despite the secretive nature of Noem’s legal counsel, evidence that her decision was influenced by big business interests continues to pile up. Not only does the governor’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, serve on the board of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, which claimed that the transgender sports bill should be the legislation “of the highest importance.” for Noem to veto, but lawyer and lobbyist Matt McCaulley, another “top advisor,” represents Sanford Health which owns Sanford Sports Complex, an arena in Sioux Falls that could potentially be used for NCAA tournaments.
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.