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South Dakota Gov. Noem runs $9,000 bill for custom desk

September 3, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s order for a customized, personal desk from a state prison work program will cost nearly $9,000 after modifications such as brass embossing, a gun drawer with leather inserts and a footrest were added to the order.

The governor’s spokesman Ian Fury said Friday that taxpayers won’t be saddled with the bill because it’s a personal order for Noem and that the initial bid for the black walnut executive desk ranged from $5,000 to $6,000.

Dakota News Now, citing unnamed corrections officers, reported that the bill had run to $9,000 after the modifications, which included increasing the length of the desk to 100 inches to allow two people to work side-by-side at the desk. The unnamed corrections officers alleged that prison officials had ordered the bill be discounted by $3,000.

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Fury disputed that the governor would receive a discount. He said Noem would pay the full amount of the final bill.

He said the order had always been a personal purchase for the governor but that she may use it in her official office.

“She wanted a new desk,” Fury said.

Democratic Sen. Troy Heinert slammed the expense of the desk, saying it is “troubling that the governor needs a $9,000 desk when quite a few South Dakotans don’t have a $9,000 car.”

Noem in August fired the director of the prison work program, Pheasantland Industries, amid a human resources investigation into low employee morale and sexual harassment among employees at the prison. The warden and deputy warden at the state penitentiary were also fired in the probe.

The governor said in July that she was pushing for widespread changes in the prison system after holding a meeting with employees.

“We are looking at evaluating every single policy,” she said at a news conference following the July meeting.

Pheasantland Industries allows inmates to learn a trade while incarcerated and pays them 50 cents per hour for their work.