Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Combatting the Cartel Crisis: at Home and at the Border

Combatting the Cartel Crisis: at Home and at the Border
By: Governor Kristi Noem
May 17, 2024

“The State of South Dakota lacks criminal jurisdiction over Indian Country crimes; thus, in reality, the sole provider of law enforcement services to the Oglala Sioux Tribe is the federal government. We believe this federal neglect has resulted in the cartel moving on to our reservation, an increase in overdoses, and a proliferation of guns on our school properties.”

Those comments were made by the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Frank Star Comes Out. And I agree with him 100%. The same man who said these words led a movement to banish me just two months later for speaking the same truth. Clearly, many tribal leaders would rather play politics to try and hurt me, rather than work with me to help their people succeed.

Banishing me does nothing to solve this problem or to help those who are suffering horrific tragedies.

Yesterday, I returned home from the dangerous, deadly warzone at our nation’s Southern Border. South Dakota National Guard soldiers have helped the Texas National Guard construct miles of border wall in 100-degree weather to keep the American people safe – and keep cartel-driven drugs and human trafficking out of our great country.

These brave soldiers represent the sixth deployment of South Dakota National Guard troops to defend our border, and some might wonder why a small state that’s closer to Canada than Texas would care at all. The answer is quite simple: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s radical open border policies have failed the American people and turned even South Dakota into a border state.

The cartels’ criminal activity has made all of our communities dangerous, especially tribal reservations where I have no jurisdiction. These cartels are working with gangs throughout the U.S. – like the Bandidos and their local affiliates the Ghost Dancers – to poison our people and to traffic women and children into sex slavery.

In fact, the cartels know it’s easy to supply drugs on tribal reservations with near impunity. According to President Jeffrey Stiffarm of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, “We don’t have criminal jurisdiction over any of these people that bring in these drugs, over non [tribal] members – even cartel members… so our hands are tied.”

State law enforcement has not been welcomed onto tribal reservations to help – and we have respected tribal sovereignty. The federal government has so badly failed at the most basic functions of public safety (both at the border and on our reservations) that the tribes are suing the Biden Administration for shirking their treaty obligations.

The presence of the drug cartels and their affiliates on tribal reservations across the nation is not up for debate – it is established fact. And it is not a unique problem to South Dakota. Even Democrat Senator Jon Tester from Montana recently said in a briefing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, “We’ve got cartels in Indian country. We’ve got a lot of bad shit going on.”

Stiffarm also testified that his tribe and their neighbors are “fighting a losing battle” against the drug cartels. But the most powerful moment of his testimony came when he said that one of his peers declined to testify because he had received death threats from the cartel.

Think about that. A Native American leader decided not to testify before his own Congress because of death threats from a foreign criminal element.

I have repeatedly reached out to South Dakota’s nine Native American tribes and offered what help I can to improve their public safety. On some issues, we’ve succeeded – recently launching a first-of-its-kind law enforcement training focused on tribal law enforcement officers alongside our Attorney General. And my state agencies actively work with our tribes on thousands of needs affecting almost every aspect of their lives, from child welfare to emergency response, from tax collection agreements to upgrading their ambulance services.

Tribal residents see my actions and recognize my heart and the truth. One caller to my office, a woman from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, told me that there is tremendous corruption amongst the tribal council, and that some of the tribal council members themselves personally benefit from the cartel being there. She stated that if tribal members call this out, they are “blackballed” and will be prohibited from working anyplace on the reservation.

We have received hundreds of calls and emails in recent weeks like that one with similar disturbing messages. The truth always comes out.

I will work every day to protect our children in every community from the danger of drugs, fight to protect our women from rape and trafficking, and help bring safety and peace to these communities.


Notes from the field: Senator Erin Tobin joins Governor Noem at Southern Border tour

On Thursday I was asked to travel with the Governor to the Southern border. 3 legislators, myself included, headed to Texas in the early morning to talk to our South Dakota National Guard.

This last legislative session, the Governor came to the legislature to talk to us about the crisis at the border. She walked through what she had seen at the border and what statistics were coming in regarding sex trafficking, smuggling of fentanyl into the US, and cartel activity. We passed a resolution to support our SD National Guard at the border and to make clear that the border is an American crisis and a SD crisis. We pre-funded the efforts of the National Guard in our budget this year and we were the only state to have done this.

I wanted this process to be transparent and to understand what our SD National Guard was specifically doing there and see what the results of that legislative effort was making at the Southern border. Right before we left, I found out that the 155th Engineering company based out of Wagner is currently working on site. We have 3 x 30-day rotations planned.

We arrived at Del Rio, Texas just after lunch and headed to where our SD troops were working. When driving to the site, I spoke with the Lieutenant, a PHD student at SDSU majoring in Animal Science specifically interested in bovine embryology, who filled me in on the day-to-day responsibilities of the unit, the condition of their base, and even the food that they are eating while there. She told me the SD base is in a great location and they feel safe and supported.

When we arrived at the site, it was 103 degrees and a very high humidity level. The first step completed by the Guard was to clear out vegetation to allow a place where the fence could go. Our Wagner unit was placing a smaller fence with barbs on it and a larger fence behind this with razor wire at the top.

I spoke with our troops, some who will be staying the whole 90 days and some who just started their rotation. I talked with troops from Platte, Corsica, Stickney, and Wagner. They explained that the Texas National Guard will lay out all the fencing supplies in front of them and the SD guard will come behind and pound posts and install the fence. The troops also explained that when they arrived, they decided to use a skid steer to push posts in, making the process much more efficient. Our SD troops obviously have a strong work ethic and know how to make the job more efficient. They also explained that they felt safe during their time on site, as the cartel activity has moved away from the places where the fence is being installed as they chose the easiest border pass areas.

I also asked them what it was like to leave their families and work for this amount of time. One soldier from Platte explained that he had just hired someone prior to this deployment so his business is continuing back home, but he is excited to get back to his business and family. They are reimbursed well for their time and the unit works well together. They feel like they are making a difference, and they are proud to be serving such an important need for our Country and the State of SD.

We also made a stop to talk to the border patrol, who ride horseback to monitor and curtail illegal immigrants from crossing. The cartel controls every mile of the border, and the immigrants must pay the cartel to pass through. They will sometimes lead them across and sometimes will arrange for a ride on the other side. The cartel will force women and children to cross the river so that the border patrol has to rescue them from drowning or detain them while drugs are moving across the river a few miles away.

I found out that:

• Since 2021, the border patrol has been exhausting their efforts. Since January of this year, they have started to feel like they are making more of an impact.
• In this 240-mile patrol zone alone, the cartel takes in about 22 million dollars/week, from illegals, by smuggling people across.

Other statistics:

• As of March 2024, Operation lone star has seized 469 million lethal doses of fentanyl and there have been 503,800 migrant apprehensions.
• 25 states are now supporting Texas and 14 states are sending troops.
• 72% of those trafficked in the US are immigrants.
• 60% of unaccompanied alien children are caught by the cartels and exploited through sex or drug trafficking and 150,000 unaccompanied children cross in the last year.

The decision we made as a legislature was paramount to South Dakota. I am so thankful we have our SD National Guard at the border to serve and protect. I can tell you we have the best of the best at the border protecting us. This is not only a drug crisis that affects every single State in the Union, but also a humanitarian crisis. Thank you to our SD National Guard and to the 155th Engineering Company out of Wagner for all you do, and for taking the time to host us SD legislators and answer our questions. Our National Guard is making a positive impact that will save lives across the nation and in South Dakota.

Thank you to our troops.

God Bless,
Senator Tobin

I don’t believe that’s permissible. DoedenPAC reports donation of 100k, despite 10k law.

From SDCL 12-27-9:

12-27-9Limits on contributions to political action committee–Violation as misdemeanor .

A political action committee may accept contributions during any calendar year as follows:

(1)    Not to exceed ten thousand dollars from a person;
(2)    Not to exceed ten thousand dollars from an entity;
(3)    Without limit from a political action committee;
(4)    Without limit from a political party;
(5)    Without limit from a candidate campaign committee; and
(6)    Not to exceed ten thousand dollars from a ballot question committee.

Any contribution from a person who is an unemancipated minor shall be deducted from the total contribution permitted under this section by the unemancipated minor’s custodial parent or parents. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A subsequent offense within a calendar year is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

From the DoedenPAC Campaign Finance Report:

TobyDoedenPAC_sdcfdisclosure by Pat Powers on Scribd

The report also omits any mention of the cost of text messaging that’s been going on.

I have the feeling that this report – and how the PAC does business – will quickly be subject to revision.

*Update* – sorry, I didn’t get the DumpsterFire logo added..

Now where did D34 House Candidate Heather Baxter’s $5000 magically appear from?

Caught this in Heather Baxter’s pre-primary campaign finance report dated May 16th..

A $5000 Donation from Shining Light PAC , directly attributed to Jason & Bonnie Johnson, which may have been routed through the PAC. To get around campaign finance limits, possibly?

But curiously, when we look at the campaign finance report for the PAC belonging to Rapid City’s most dubious politico, Jordan Mason’s “Shining Light PAC,”  I don’t see any money coming in, or going out to Heather Baxter.

ShiningBagofDooDoo_sdcfdisclosure by Pat Powers on Scribd

The date of the Shining Light PAC Campaign finance report? May 16.

Sooo…. How does Heather Baxter receive and report to the Secretary of State a $5000 donation supposedly rolled through the Shining Light Political Action Committee and reported on May 14th, yet on May 16th, Shining Light Political Action Committee treasurer Jordan Mason reports no activity – nothing received or donated on his report?

This might be one of these campaign finance questions someone should look into.

Pre-Primary reports rolling in. Some, like Tony Kayser’s are early. Maybe too early.

Pre-primary reports are starting to be posted by the Secretary of State’s office, especially for those that were filed early.  But, is there such a thing as being too early?

According to the Secretary of State’s website, reports should be filed as follows:


  • Deadline: Fifteen days prior to the primary election.
  • What needs to be reported: All transactions from the last submitted report through May 15, 2024.  (my emphasis)
  • Who files: ALL statewide candidates & statewide elected officials, legislative candidates and county candidates (only if there is a race in that office in the district or county), statewide political parties, statewide political action committees and statewide *ballot question committees.

Ok. For activity through May 15th.  Then why was District 14 candidate Tony Kayser signing off on a report on April 26th?

To this point, the only question that came up about Tony Kayser to me was a commercial property owner asking me “who is this Kayser guy who is putting his signs on my property without asking?”  (Yes, that does upset commercial property owners).

But this one is weird. How can you sign off on your report about 2 1/2 weeks early without knowing what you might receive in donations?  Even more interesting is the report itself, and an item that leaped out at me:

Tony Kay Ser pre-primary report by Pat Powers on Scribd

The dude is claiming $159.30 in campaign yard sign expenses in his mostly self-funded campaign?

A number of weeks back, I personally was picking up a load of signs from the sign production house, and had to jockey for position at the door with someone else who was loading a pickup truck load of signs, whom I did not recognize. I caught it later, as I was leaving after I paid. It was Tony Kayser.

The date? April 30th. In fact, I have a cell phone call I made after that to try to figure out who this was, so I have a date and time right there.  On the report, Kayser notes that he had expenses of $159.30 for signs. Based on what I personally witnessed on April 30th, I’m going to call shenanigans (as a nice way of saying B.S.).

$500 or $1500, maybe. But $159? No way. Not what I witnessed according to the number of signs he had filled the back of his truck with. There were a number of 4×6 signs, and a pile of yard signs. And again, this was on 4/30, which according to the laws regarding the pre-primary filing should have included campaign expenditures and receipts up through May 15th.  But, if he jumped the gun and based his report weeks early on 4/26, yes, $159 might be true.. but not accurate to what should have been filed.

This is only the start of campaign reporting weirdness, so stay tuned.

And remember, if you’re putting signs out there, please don’t assume. Ask the property owner first.

Final Explanations Released For State Constitutional Amendments Proposed by South Dakota Legislature

Final Explanations Released For State Constitutional Amendments Proposed by South Dakota Legislature

PIERRE, S.D. – Final ballot explanations for two potential constitutional amendments that were adopted by South Dakota legislators have been released by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Marty Jackley takes no position on any such proposal for purposes of the ballot explanation. He has provided a fair and neutral explanation on the proposed constitutional amendments to help assist the voters.

The proposed constitutional amendments will now be on this year’s general election ballot. A majority of the votes cast in the November, 2024 general election will be needed to pass each measure. These two potential constitutional amendments are different than most such proposals because they were proposed by state lawmakers and not by private individuals or groups.

Senate Joint Resolution 501, if approved, would authorize the state to impose a work requirement on individuals who are eligible for expanded Medicaid benefits. The resolution was approved by the 2024 Legislature.

Senate Joint Resolution 505, if approved, would update the text of the State Constitution regarding gender references for certain office holders and persons. The resolution was approved by the 2023 Legislature.

State law requires the Attorney General draft a title and explanation for each initiated measure, initiated constitutional amendment, constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature, or referred measure that may appear on an election ballot. The Attorney General’s explanation is meant to be an “objective, clear, and simple summary” intended to “educate the voters of the purpose and effect of the proposed” measure, as well as identify the “legal consequences” of each measure.

The Attorney General’s explanation was drafted after a review of all the comments received during the proposed amendment’s 10-day comment period. A total of one comment was received.

For more information regarding ballot measures, please visit the Secretary of State website at


Guest Column: South Dakota Blockchain Coalition – Elizabeth Warren bill will squelch the entrepreneurship and innovation

Guest Column: Elizabeth Warren bill will squelch the entrepreneurship and innovation
by Barry Sackett, Chair/Founder South Dakota Blockchain Coalition

A critical bill impacting South Dakota Banking, Trust, and the growing digital asset industry is pending before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. We are fortunate to have Senator Rounds serving on this committee to continue protecting South Dakota businesses.

The Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act brought forward by Senator Elizabeth Warren aims to squelch the entrepreneurship and innovation within this emerging market, and targets digital assets and the utilization of blockchain technology in the financial markets, agriculture, and health care industries.

The importance of South Dakota’s leadership in blockchain technology cannot be overstated. Blockchain technology is transforming the way we conduct business, exchange value, and is heavily impacting the South Dakota Trust Industry.

The regulation proposed in Senator Warren’s legislation essentially makes technology currently being utilized in financial markets around the world unusable in the United States, thus forcing businesses to move overseas to develop products which will become essential in the new world of artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The United States is already behind other European and Asian regulators in understanding digital assets, and this legislation threatens to set us back even further.

As of March, this legislation has received additional co-sponsorship from 16 Democratic and two Republican Senators. We have conferred with Senator Rounds Staff regarding this bill, and he has not signed on to support this legislation and has introduced legislation in the past regarding cyber security. We applaud his efforts and encourage him to work with Representative Dusty Johnson to create a bill mirroring Rep. Johnson’s H.R. 4763, FIT for the 21st Century Act in the Senate. Representative Johnson’s bill creates a clear path to appropriately treat digital assets as commodities instead of security instruments.

We support Senator Rounds advocacy for future South Dakota jobs and leading in this critical emerging industry. The United States Congress needs to create and pass a legal framework for entrepreneurs to competitively operate within the global markets and within the U.S. regulatory system to create confidence for the customers and users of the digital asset ecosystem.

Barry Sackett
Chair/Founder South Dakota Blockchain Coalition