Chairman’s Note: As a fourth generation farm kid, our own Data & Design Director Abby Bischoff has always taken pride in South Dakota’s elected officials coming together to support our family farmers and ranchers. So when Senator John Thune voted against the farm bill this week, she took some time to share her thoughts. I hope you will read them.
As a fourth generation farm kid, I’ve always taken some solace that my legislators in Washington DC will always protect the way of life that has defined our state for generations. Strip away the party affiliation and the other divisive issues and at the end of the day they would fall on the side of farmers and ranchers. They’d risk a little political clout to ensure protections and policies are in place to help the people that feed the world and work from dawn until dusk to do so.
Yesterday, Senator John Thune became the first South Dakota Senator I can remember to vote against South Dakota. He voted against the Farm Bill and then had the audacity to throw partisan talking points back here to South Dakota as his reasoning.
I worked for a farm organization in college. We worked with our federal elected officials on a daily basis and they were our partners and allies. We met with them – Senators Tim Johnson and Senator Tom Daschle and Representative Bill Janklow – when we visited Capitol Hill. We had honest conversations about issues facing farmers and ranchers. We all came together in one room to talk about the issues that affected our shared home. What we lacked in population, we made up for in team of legislators who were a force on Capitol Hill. Partly because of character and partly because of the unified front they became for South Dakota’s agricultural community.
So it seems the decades of cooperation for like-minded South Dakota officials are gone, for now anyway – swallowed up in a sea of presidential aspirations and pressure from extreme factions of the Republican party. As I watch my little brother take on the risks and rewards of taking over our family farm, and see photos of his 4 year old twins riding in the cab of the tractor, smiles beaming as they help their daddy plant soybeans, I hope someone is showing Senator Thune a similar thing in this office. I know the fields of South Dakota probably feel far away from Thune’s desk in Washington DC, but they’re still home to me.
Agriculture is the backbone of our state economy, yet year after year Governor Daugaard keeps disappointing the agriculture industry. Every year in office, Daugaard has vetoed a rural bill, whether it was the roadship funding bill in 2011, a repeal of the straw tax in 2012, or the fertilizer fee for research bill this year. South Dakota farmers are asking for investments. Governor Daugaard just won’t listen to them.
Chairman’s Note: Some folks in Washington are trying to undo the great investments in the ethanol industry we’ve made for South Dakota farmers. But Senator Johnson is speaking truth to power. Johnson is protecting the ethanol industry, so South Dakota continues to grow.
Chairman’s Note: The Pierre Capitol Journal has a few questions for Congresswoman Noem. We do too. Repeatedly skipping work – and doing nothing when you show up – without a justifiable is cause for dismissal. So far, Noem’s excuses have been nonexistent or debunked.
Chairman’s Note: Several months ago, we broke news that Congresswoman Noem had missed 16 of 20 agriculture committee meetings while Congress was crafting the farm bill. After a week without comment, Noem claimed she had scheduling conflicts. Well folks, now it looks like Noem has missed 17 of 22 Indian Affairs committee meetings and worse, most had absolutely no conflicts with other meetings in her schedule! Folks, this isn’t that hard. You show up for your job or you get fired. Forward this to a friend so we can get rid of ‘No Show Noem’.
Congresswoman Noem has been pretty good at finding excuses for skipping her committee hearings. After failing to respond for a week to the media for missing 16 of 20 ag committee hearings and now another bombshell showing she missed 17 of 22 Indian Affairs meetings, Noem said scheduling conflicts stopped her from attending.
But therein lies the problem: most of her Indian Affairs meetings did not coincide with any other committee meetings on her schedule!
Noem Attendance Excuses Debunked
Frequently skipped all committee meetings on a given day, and absences were rarely caused by conflicting meetings
(SIOUX FALLS, SD)–After a joint Argus Leader appearance Monday in which Rep. Kristi Noem claimed she had fought for Native American interests in Congress, the Varilek campaign released research showing that Noem has skipped nearly every meeting of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee.
In response, Noem made the recycled claim that she missed those meetings in order to attend others. “Many times those committees are meeting at the exact same time. I have to wake up every day and look and see where I can be most effective for South Dakota,” she said in a KELO TV interview.
Noem’s claim that she missed meetings because of scheduling conflicts is false. New findings from the Varilek campaign show that in the vast majority of cases, Noem had no hearings or meetings scheduled that conflicted with those of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee. On many occasions she simply skipped all her committee meetings.
Noem skipped 17 out of 22 meetings of the Indian Affairs subcommittee; for a 12-month stretch, she attended none of its meetings at all. In 15 of those instances, none of Noem’s other committees or subcommittees were meeting at the same time. In five cases, the Indian Affairs meeting was her only one of the day.
- On April 1, 2011, the subcommittee hearing she skipped (which concerned tribal energy development) was her only meeting of the day. She attended a Fox News interview later in the day.
- On September 22, 2011, she had four hearings on her schedule and skipped all four. She attended a fundraiser in the evening. She also missed National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and Water and Power subcommittee hearings on this day, as well as an Education and the Workforce hearing.
- On November 3, 2011, she skipped all four hearings on her schedule. Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Mike Black, a South Dakota native and Oglala Sioux member, testified before the Indian Affairs subcommittee on that day. She also missed meetings of the Natural Resources Committee, the Agriculture Committee, and the Education and the Workforce Committee on this day.
Noem also claimed that the meetings she skipped focused on issues that did not affect South Dakota’s Native Americans. This is also false. Those meetings dealt with such issues as universal telecom service mandates in rural areas, the Indian Health Services budget, and the American Indian Empowerment Act.
On the rare occasions when Noem did attend a subcommittee meeting, she often passed on opportunities to speak on behalf of South Dakota. On July 24, 2012, Indian Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) had to repeatedly call on Noem to get her attention because she was typing on her phone. Noem looked up from her phone and declined her chance to speak. Watch the video here.
Noem’s excuses echo claims she made earlier this year, when research found that Noem had attended just 4 out of 20 meetings. Agriculture Committee, the Education and the Workforce Committee, and the Natural Resources Committee.
Varilek called on the Noem campaign to come forward with any evidence showing that Noem did in fact attend any of these meetings. The Noem campaign has not yet responded.
Argus Leader Editorial Board Forum: “We have record levels of suicides on our reservations. We have inadequate job opportunities, we have underfunded Indian health services. We have continuing issues with BIA law enforcement on the reservations. What specific plans do you have that are geared toward resolving the problems on South Dakota’s reservations going forward?…And I want to be specific. Not necessarily money, but what efforts are you going to make if you’re elected over the next two years to deal with the issues that we have on South Dakota’s reservations?” (Question from Editorial Board, 9/24/12)
Varilek Attacks Noem’s Subcommittee Attendance. By Kelly Bartnick. [KELO TV. 9/26/12]
Release: Noem Skipped 17 of 22 Indian Affairs Meetings. [Matt for SD. 9/25/12]
Chairman’s Note: It’s official. South Dakota farmers and ranchers aren’t going to get a farm bill before the November election, and we can thank Congresswoman Noem for it. Noem sat on her hands during the August recess, then failed to use her position in Republican leadership to force a vote on the Farm Bill before current farm programs expire at the end of the month. The fact is, we have only have one representative in Congress. With Noem’s failure to pass a farm bill, it’s now clear she just isn’t up for the job.
Chairman’s Note: Did you have an opportunity to see Senator John Thune speak at the Republican National Convention yesterday? According to the Washington Post, you didn’t miss much. But if you did, you heard Senator Thune peddle a bold faced, debunked lie about the Obama administration and family farms – a lie Congresswoman Noem likes to repeat as well. For peddling this lie, the Pulitzer prize winning Politifact gave Senator Thune the inglorious “Pants on Fire” distinction. Congratulations, Senator.
Chairman’s Note: After mounting pressure from reporters and activists like you, Congresswoman Noem held her first ever town hall in Sioux Falls yesterday. An area farmer, however, stole the show with a simple comment: “You’ve voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act thirty times, but you won’t vote on the Farm Bill? Shame on you!”