Kristi Noem

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Kristi Noem
Kristi Noem portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's At-large district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Member of the South Dakota House of Representatives
from the 6th district
In office
January 2007 – January 2011
Preceded by Art Fryslie
Succeeded by Burt Tulson
Personal details
Born Kristi Lynn Arnold
(1971-11-30) November 30, 1971 (age 49)
Watertown, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Bryon Noem
Children 3
Alma mater South Dakota State University
Religion Evangelicalism

Kristi Lynn Noem (née Arnold, born November 30, 1971) is the U.S. Representative for South Dakota's at-large congressional district, serving since January 2011.[1] She is a member of the Republican Party and was elected to the Republican Leadership for the 112th Congress as one of its two freshman representatives.[2] She previously represented the 6th District in the South Dakota House of Representatives for four years, serving as an Assistant Majority Leader during her final year. She is a farmer, rancher and small business owner by profession.

Early life, education, and farming career

Kristi Lynn Arnold was born to Ron and Corinne Bergan Arnold in Watertown, South Dakota and raised with her three siblings on the family ranch and farm in rural Hamlin County.[3] Growing up, she participated in rodeo queen events, learning horsemanship and interview skills.[4] She graduated from Hamlin High School in 1990, and won the South Dakota Snow Queen title, which required that she enroll in a state university and promote the state during her reign.[3] She credited the experience with helping her polish her public speaking and promotional skills.[4] After high school, she enrolled at Northern State University. She married Bryon Noem at the age of 20, then left college at age 22 to help run her family's ranch after her father was killed in a farm machinery accident.[3][5]

Noem has said that upon her father's 1994 death she and her family members decided to take out a loan to pay taxes owing on the estate, noting that "for 10 years that loan really impacted our ability to make a profit".[6] The property, of which Noem's family owns a non-controlling partnership in, has also received $3,058,152 in USDA farm subsidies from 1995 through 2009.[7] Over the years, Noem added a hunting lodge and restaurant to the property, and all of her siblings have moved back to assist in expanding the businesses.[3]

After her early marriage, Noem stopped attending college full-time but, over the years, took classes at the Watertown Campus of Mount Marty College, and South Dakota State University.[3][4] After being elected to Congress, she continued her education, taking online courses and receiving credits for her work as a representative – leading the Washington Post to dub her Capitol Hill's "Most Powerful Intern."[8] She earned a degree in political science from South Dakota State in May 2012.[9]

South Dakota House of Representatives


Noem entered political life by serving on local committees and boards.[6] In 2006, she won a seat in the South Dakota House of Representatives representing the 6th District (comprising parts of Beadle, Clark, Codington, Hamlin, and Kingsbury counties, but not including the city of Watertown). In 2006, she won ranked first with 39% of the vote.[10] In 2008, she won re-election to a second term, ranking first with 41% of the vote.[11]


Noem served for four years, from 2007 to 2010, and was an Assistant Majority Leader during her last year.[12][13]

According to the Daily Caller, Noem was noted for being a tough and knowledgeable state legislator. She publicly accused a state senator of a conflict of interest during a legislative hearing thus killing his effort to stop the construction of an Indian casino.[6] In 2009 and 2010 she sponsored bills to lower the age of compulsory education in South Dakota to 16, after it had been raised to 18 in 2008, arguing that requiring school attendance until age 18 has not been proven to improve graduation rates.[14] Supporters of the higher age argue that it increases graduation rates and provides motivation for students who would otherwise drop out.[15]

Committee assignments

  • State Affairs Committee
  • Taxation Committee[16]

U.S. House of Representatives



On June 8, 2010, Noem ran for South Dakota's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.[17] She won the Republican primary with a plurality of 42% of the vote against South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson and State Representative Blake Curd.[18] According to Sabato's Crystal Ball blog, Noem's "victory over two A-list opponents" was impressive.[18] Her primary opponents endorsed her in the general election.[12]

Noem's opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, emphasized her own record of independence from the Democratic caucus including her no votes on health care reform, the Wall Street bailouts, and the cap-and-trade energy bill. In response, Noem repeatedly highlighted Herseth Sandlin's vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. A Washington Post story on the race described Noem as "a made-for-Fox News star" and described her as a "mama grizzly" in the mold of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[19] During the 2010 election cycle, Noem out-raised Herseth Sandlin $2.3 million to $2.1 million.[20][21] Of those totals, Noem received 84 percent of her cash from individual contributors while Herseth Sandlin received 56% from political action committees.[20][21] Mitt Romney's PAC made a donation to Noem's campaign, and Romney endorsed her.[22]

Gallup polls in June 2010 showed Republican candidates ahead of their Democratic counterparts due to dissatisfaction with President Obama.[22] Polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports consistently gave a Noem a slight edge over Herseth Sandlin following the June GOP primary, with Noem pulling ahead 47 percent to 44 percent in early October.[23] Critics said the Rasmussen firm's surveying methods were erratic and tended to favor Republican candidates.[24] Noem defeated Herseth Sandlin 48%–46%.[25]


Noem won re-election to a second term, defeating Democrat Matthew Varilek 57%–43%.[26]


Noem won re-election to a third term, defeating Democrat Corinna Robinson 67%–33%.[27]


Congresswoman Noem in 2014

Noem is the fourth woman to represent South Dakota in the U.S. Congress.[28]

Noem and fellow freshman congressman Tim Scott of South Carolina, were elected by acclamation of the 2011 House Republican 87-member freshman class to be liaisons to the House Republican leadership—making Noem the second woman member of House GOP leadership.[6][29] According to The Hill Noem's role was to push the leadership to make significant cuts to federal government spending and to help Speaker John Boehner manage the expectations of the freshman class.[30] On March 2, 2011, Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas named Noem one of the twelve regional directors for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2012 election campaign.[3][31]

Human trafficking

Noem has been active promoting legislation to end human trafficking and sexual slavery. On February 23, 2014, Noem held a conference to promote anti-trafficking legislation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[32][33] Noem is a co-sponsor of H.R.4058 in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act[33] and other U.S. House resolutions designed to end human trafficking.[33]

Health care

Noem fulfilled a campaign promise by voting in January 2011 to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,[34][35] Though the repeal was not signed into law, she has stated that she will work with the House members to defund the health care reform, while retaining measures she supports such as[3] the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the provision allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan into their 20s and the high-risk pools.[36] New provisions that Noem wants to add to federal law include limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing patients to buy health insurance plans from other states.[36] She supports cuts to Medicaid funding proposed by Republican Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan that would reduce benefits for South Dakota Medicaid recipients by 55 percent.[37]

Spending and taxes

Noem calls the budget deficit one of the most important issues facing Congress, and is a cosponsor of H.J.Res. 2, which would require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts.[38][39] She cites the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, high-speed rail projects, cap-and-trade technical assistance, and subsidies for the Washington Metro rapid transit system as examples of a federal programs where she would like to see spending cuts.[37][38][40][41]

She indicated that she would vote to raise the federal spending limit.[29] She wants to eliminate the estate tax,[42] lower the corporate tax rate, and simplify the tax code to make it less cumbersome.[3] She has also stated that she would not raise taxes to balance the budget.[43]

Social issues

On the issue of abortion, Noem is pro-life.[44] She has the support of Susan B. Anthony List.[45] She stated after her election that she hopes to maintain a 100 percent pro-life voting record.[42] During her tenure in the State House, Noem voted in favor of the death penalty on several occasions, including a bill changing South Dakota's formula for the lethal injection cocktail.

Energy and environment

Noem has stated that the U.S. must end its dependence on foreign oil. To achieve that goal, Noem says Congress should encourage conservation of existing resources.[46] Noem believes the U.S. government should also offer incentives for new ideas.[46] She supports continuing ethanol subsidies that benefit her state.[47] Noem opposes ending federal subsidies for oil companies.[37]

Noem supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and has promised to continue to work for its construction even though the U.S. Senate voted down legislation to advance the pipeline through the U.S. Congress.[48] Noem helped the House pass the legislation on November 14, 2014.[48]

Noem opposes a bill introduced by South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson that would designate over 48,000 acres (190 km2) of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland as protected wilderness.[49] Noem supports the current designation of the land as a national grassland.[50] She points out that the land is already managed as roadless areas similar to wilderness.[51] Noem argues that raising the land's designation from protected grassland to wilderness will further limit leaseholders access to the land and further imperil grazing rights.[50][51]

She supports off-shore oil drilling.[52] She co-sponsored three bills that she argues will reduce American dependence on foreign oil by ending the 2010 United States deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and re-opening sales on oil leases in the Gulf and off the coast of Virginia.[53]

Foreign affairs

Noem supported the American military intervention in 2011 conflict in Libya, but questioned whether America intervened to protect civilians, or whether the U.S. military would try to remove Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi.[54] In March 2011, Noem called on the President to provide more information about America's role in the conflict, characterizing his statements as vague and ambiguous.[54][55]


Since her election, Noem has raised 56 percent of donations from individuals and 44 percent from political action committees.[56] On March 8, 2011, Noem announced the formation of a leadership political action committee called KRISTI PAC.[57] Noem said she will use the PAC to pay expenses and support other Republican candidates. Former South Dakota Lieutenant Governor Steve Kirby is the treasurer of the PAC.[58][59][60]

Noem was among the top freshman Republicans in PAC fundraising in the first quarter of 2011, raising $169,000 from PACs and hosting at least 10 Washington fundraisers.[61] She is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee. She has said she has no plans to join the House Tea Party Caucus.[62]

Noem speaking at CPAC in February 2011.

In August 2013, conservative Newsmax magazine named Noem among the "25 most influential women in the GOP".[63]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Electoral history

Personal life

Noem lives with her husband and their three children on the Racota Valley Ranch near Castlewood.[66] As of 2009, she had a 16.9 percent ownership stake in the ranch.[67] Her recreational interests include hunting.[68]

From 1989 to 2010, Noem received 27 traffic citations, including 20 for speeding,[69] as well as other various moving violations. Noem said, "I'm not proud of my driving record, but [I've] been working hard to be a better example to young kids and young drivers out there."[70] She had paid her fines and penalties by August 2010.[69]


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Other references

External links

South Dakota House of Representatives
Preceded by
Art Fryslie
Member of the South Dakota House of Representatives
from the 6th district

Served alongside: Paul Nelson, Brock Greenfield
Succeeded by
Burt Tulson
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's At-large congressional district

Preceded by
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Chairperson of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mick Mulvaney
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Rich Nugent