The Shady Side Of Trump VP Contender Kristi Noem

Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the presidential ring for the third consecutive time, and speculation is rife about his choice of running mate. With Mike Pence out of the picture after their public falling out, Trump's shortlist for VP candidates continues to take shape, and apparently, sitting pretty atop it is Kristi Noem, South Dakota's first female governor. But despite her achievements, Noem's career has not been without controversy.

Over the last few years, Noem has been busy not just running a state but apparently auditioning for the role of Trump's right-hand woman, with experts noting that she has strategically positioned herself as a viable VP by aligning closely with Trump's political values. "She's played her cards right. She's articulate. She has a lot of energy, and she might make an attractive ticket for the president," Republican strategist Dave Carney told Politico. "You can't run for vice president. But Noem has done a good job." Trump himself hasn't shied away from the idea of a female veep, telling NBC, "I like the concept."

Noem is all in, too, declaring that she would have no qualms if Trump asked her to accept a vice-presidential nomination. "I would in a heartbeat," she told Newsmax. But the big question remains — can the public overlook her not-so-squeaky clean track record? From admitting to killing her dog to allegedly being involved in an affair with one of Trump's advisors, here are some of the shadiest things about Noem.

She admitted to killing her dog

One of Kristi Noem's biggest controversies to date involves her own admission of ending the life of her dog. In her book "No Going Back: The Truth on What's Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward," she waxed poetic about her ability to do even "difficult, messy and ugly" things in pursuit of what's right. She illustrated that by recalling how she killed Cricket, her 14-month-old wirehair pointer, which she initially acquired for pheasant hunting. She noted that Cricket had an "aggressive personality" that not even an electric collar could tame, even likening her to a "trained assassin." Upon realizing that she disliked the dog, Noem made the decision to kill her. "It was not a pleasant job, but it had to be done," she wrote, according to The Guardian.

Unsurprisingly, Noem received much backlash, even from people who support the Republican party. But Noem defended her decision, claiming in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that it was the right thing to do, adding that it was lawful under South Dakota regulations concerning aggressive animals. "The fact is, South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down. Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did," she penned. "As I explained in the book, it wasn't easy. But often the easy way isn't the right way."

She reportedly meddled with her daughter's appraisal license application

A proponent for nepotism? Kristi Noem is no stranger to giving her family a leg up in their careers, as evidenced in her decision to hire her daughter Kennedy in 2018 as a policy analyst before she had even graduated from university. Kennedy was given a significant pay raise, too, jumping from $40,700 to almost $60,000 in less than half a year, according to Kelo.

Then, in 2020, Noem reportedly interfered with her daughter Kassidy's application for a real estate appraiser's license. Upon finding out that the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program was leaning toward denying Kassidy, Noem purportedly called the agency's director, Sherry Bren, to a meeting that included her boss and the state's labor secretary, according to AP. Four months later, Kassidy got her license, but not without the labor secretary asking Bren to retire. Bren later testified before a legislative panel, stating she felt pressured during the meeting to allow Kassidy a second chance, a deviation from usual agency practice.

Noem, for her part, denied ever meddling with Kassidy's application. "I never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy," she said in a YouTube video, insisting that Kassidy got her license fair and square. "She is my daughter, and I'm proud of her. I raised her to accomplish things on her own." Kassidy quit real estate a year after she got the license, writing in a letter to the labor secretary, "I'm angry and I can acknowledge that this has successfully destroyed my business."

She used taxpayer money to decorate the governor's mansion

Kristi Noem apparently has a knack for decorating homes, and she might as well be an HGTV star. Records obtained by American Oversight revealed that Noem used a considerable chunk of taxpayer money on various decorations and renovations for the governor's office during her tenure. Approximately $60,000 was apparently spent on items like tables, chairs, lamps, and televisions, with $13,000 spent on rugs alone. A report by the Argus Leader also found that $8,100 was spent on a brand-new sauna because, apparently, you need to bask in a nice bath to be an effective state leader. All these expenses are in addition to the reported $130,000 she spent to build a TV studio within the mansion to facilitate television appearances, complemented by a $75,000 makeup kit, according to Dakota Free Press.

While these expenditures have raised eyebrows, officials from the governor's office have defended the renovations and upgrades as comparable to those of previous administrations and argued that they were needed. Meanwhile, her spokesperson, Ian Fury, maintained that the swanky studio was essential for enhancing Noem's communications. "Prior to Governor Noem taking office, there was no way to conduct remote interviews with television stations from Pierre," he said. "The governor is able to use this studio for interviews with national media, but also with local stations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City."

She was rumored to have an affair with one of Trump's advisors

Kristi Noem's reputation as a proponent of family values came under scrutiny when allegations surfaced about her having a prolonged affair with Corey Lewandowski, a Trump advisor who also worked with Noem from 2019 to 2021. In September 2021, Politico reported that she distanced herself from Lewandowski following accusations of his inappropriate behavior toward a woman at a fundraising event.

But a 2023 Daily Mail report claimed that, despite the public separation, Lewandowski remained involved with Noem — romantically. "When Las Vegas happened, she fired him without really firing him. He never left," a source told the outlet. Their alleged affair was also purported to be an open secret within political circles. It had reportedly gotten to the point where Noem would often make excuses for Lewandowski's actions. These stories were supported by the New York Post, which cited sources saying they were a bit too touchy-feely in public settings. "This has been a known, open thing and we've all been waiting for it to blow up at some point," a source divulged.

Despite these claims, Noem and her team have consistently denied the allegations. "The allegation of an affair is false," Ian Fury noted in a statement obtained by Sioux Falls Live. Noem herself had directly addressed them as well, saying in a 2021 tweet, "These rumors are total garbage and a disgusting lie. These old, tired attacks on conservative women are based on a falsehood that we can't achieve anything without a man's help."

She made eyebrow-raising comments about the Capitol riots

Perhaps in an attempt to better her relationship with Donald Trump, Kristi Noem made some controversial comments about the infamous Capitol Riots, which Trump maintains was due to Mike Pence's refusal to use his position as presiding officer of the Senate to overturn the results of the 2020 elections. "Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn't have had a problem with January 6, so in many ways you can blame him for January 6," he told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

While Noem did not explicitly state she would have acted differently than Pence, she did express support for Trump's view that Pence let him down. "I think that he's failed Donald Trump since that day because he certainly does not recognize that we need someone in the White House who needs him out on the trail advocating for him instead of constantly criticizing and going back and ripping him apart," she told CNN. The governor then refused to answer whether she believed Pence shouldn't have certified the election.

Some might read this as a calculated move, but what's clear is that Noem is doing everything to be Trump's VP pick. At a rally in South Dakota, she doubled down on her dedication to the former president. "I will do everything I can to help him win and save this country," she declared (via AP News).