A new Governor Noem campaign announcement emerged on Wednesday saying she is heroically championing fairness in women’s sport. The ad falsely claims that she “never backed down” to protect women’s sports here in South Dakota. As proof, it alluded to her making sure the boys and girls competed separately in the 4-H rodeo.
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This ad is incredibly dishonest at best and gaslighting at worst. Let’s unpack these fabricated claims the Governor desperately wants to be true.
First, let’s start with last year’s Women’s Sport Bill which promoted fairness in women’s sport. The South Dakota Legislature put this strong bill on Governor Noem’s desk banning biological men from competing in women’s sports. He protected girls in K12 sports and in college. She tweeted that she was “excitedto sign the invoice. Well, she quickly changed her mind. She reversed course after being woken up by pressure from the likes of Matt McCaulley, who doubles as Sandford Health lobbyist and paid adviser to Governor Noem, and DC elitist Corey Lewandowski. , which is just scary.
After going back on her word, she has drawn the ire of conservatives nationally and locally. Trying to recover from her direct error with her base, Governor Noem then offered a “style and form veto” to the legislature. This process allows a Governor to correct typographical errors such as an erroneous code reference or a misplaced comma. Instead, his “style” revisions gutted protections for female varsity athletes to appease corporate interests. The South Dakota legislature rejected his watered-down bill. It also gave him a civics lesson in the principle of checks and balances and “style and form” vetoes: executives don’t make laws, legislatures do.
Second, the fact that her ad claims she’s been championing women’s sports for years — referencing the 4-H rodeo — is incredibly misleading. Let’s clear that up. There was a 40-year-old controversy regarding an interpretation of Title IX by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Title IX “prohibits discrimination based on sex”.
Basically, bureaucrats in Washington attempted to do co-ed 4-H rodeo. Most South Dakotans know that most 4-H events are co-ed, like showing cattle, sheep and more. However, rodeo is split between boys and girls (only New Mexico and South Dakota even have 4-H rodeo). In 2017, Governor Noem rejected this administrative interpretation. But note that there were no transgender activists involved, no corporate pressure. In 2017, she helped resolve a murky bureaucratic disagreement over 4-H, hardly the brave stance her new announcement would have us believe. The announcement is a half-baked attempt to distract from its abandonment to corporate pressure in 2021.
Third, Governor Noem’s announcement claims that her new bill, which is similar to the one she essentially vetoed, is the “strongest law in the land.” Well, that’s not true either. It is a good bill, and I am glad she introduced it. Women deserve protection from biological males who steal their titles and purses. But governors in states like Arkansas and Florida have signed bills that provide much stronger legal options for injured female athletes. So let’s face it. To top it all off, the world’s largest conservative law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), helped with the wording of last year’s Women’s Sports Bill. One of the world’s most respected legal organizations would not be careless enough to support a bill that carried such “economic, legal and reputational threats,” as Governor Noem claimed.
My dad told me growing up that “you’re only as good as your word”. Well, Governor Noem is as good as hers.
Caroline Woods is the former political adviser and federal liaison to Governor Kristi Noem. She worked in her office during the debate on the Women’s Sports Bill in 2021.