South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem flew on MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s private jet on her way to the Republican Governors Association spring meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, this week, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Lindell, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, was kicked out of the event after he had promised to confront Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp about why they aren’t pushing to overturn the 2020 election results in their states. An RGA official had said he was not allowed to attend RGA events because he wasn’t a full member of the organization.
Lindell was able to gain access to the RGA meeting as a guest of Noem’s and as a prospective member, according to one of the people familiar with Noem’s travel arrangements.
Lindell told POLITICO earlier this week that after having arrived in Nashville on Monday and having planned to spend most of the week in the city, he instead left Nashville on Tuesday night by private jet. That left Noem looking for a new ride home, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.
A spokesperson for Noem, Ian Fury, disputed that her travel plans had changed because Lindell left Nashville early. “Lindell was not a guest of Governor Noem’s at the conference. Neither did her travel plans change following the conference,” he said in a text message. “Governor Noem follows the law and reimburses for flights when appropriate.”
In a brief phone interview, Lindell said he “is not revealing anybody who goes on my plane. I have people on my plane all the time and I don’t know who told you that. I’m not disclosing anything. … I’m not saying anything about it.
“Our conversation’s done,” Lindell added before hanging up the phone.
He later added in a text message: “Anyone whoever is on my plane is highly confidential! I cannot comment on that or my planes flights … This is for security reasons[.] I have had many threats since I went public with the dominion and machine evidence.”
In February, Lindell was sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.3 billion in a defamation suit accusing him of repeatedly and falsely saying that the company’s voting machines had rigged the election.
In Noem’s case, her travel on Lindell’s private jet appears to be legal. According to South Dakota law, no public officials or immediate family members of public officials can accept gifts from lobbyists of more than $100 during a calendar year. But the state has no rules on officials accepting gifts from non-lobbyists, such as Lindell.
The state also doesn’t require disclosing such gifts unless it constitutes more than 10 percent of the official’s family income in a year or more than $2,000.
“Is this illegal per South Dakota law? Probably not,” said Nikki Gronli, vice-chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, when asked about Noem’s flight. “Is it unethical? Definitely. Rich politicians getting flown around the country by rich associates looking for perks or future appointments is unethical.
“It’s also disturbing that our governor is fraternizing with a man who is being sued by Dominions Voting Systems for lying about the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” Gronli added.