South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, on Wednesday dismissed a conservative media outlet’s claim that she is having an extramarital affair with Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump adviser who is also advising Noem.
“These rumors are total garbage and a disgusting lie,” Noem said in a tweet. “These old, tired attacks on conservative women are based on a falsehood that we can’t achieve anything without a man’s help. I love Bryon. I’m proud of the God-fearing family we’ve raised together. Now I’m getting back to work.”
A conservative website, American Greatness, published a piece Tuesday claiming that, according to “multiple” sources, Noem has been having an affair with Lewandowski “for months.” The website did not identify any of the sources.
Lewandowski was Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign manager. He was fired by the campaign in 2016 but remains part of the former president’s inner circle and runs the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC.
Noem and Lewandowski have traveled extensively together across the country for political events, and he has promoted her to members of the media. At one event in January, they were spotted partying together late in a hotel bar.
Separately, a Trump donor is accusing Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas last week.
“He repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful,” the donor, Trashelle Odom, said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.
“Corey bragged multiple times about how powerful he is, and how he can get anyone elected, inferring he was the reason Trump became President,” she added. “Corey claimed that he controls access to the former president. He said he is in charge of the donors and the Super PAC. . . . He also made it clear that if he was crossed, he has the power to destroy anyone and ruin their lives.”
The accusations were first reported by Politico.
Late Wednesday, a spokesman for Trump said Lewandowski has been pushed out of the former president’s political operation after the allegations.
“Corey Lewandowski will be going on to other endeavors and we very much want to thank him for his service. He will no longer be associated with Trump World,” Taylor Budowich, Trump’s director of communications, wrote in a message on Twitter.
Budowich said former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi will run the pro-Trump super PAC.
John Odom, Odom’s husband, said that he wants “accountability now” from Lewandowski and that the couple is exploring their legal options “to make sure he cannot harm anyone else.”
“Corey called me on Monday evening,” John Odom said in a statement. “He sounded distraught and scared. He said he had been intoxicated. He was sorry for his actions, wanted to know how he could make it go away, and that he would do anything to make it right with Trashelle and our family.”
The Odoms’ statements were provided by a public relations person representing them. The couple themselves could not be reached for comment.
David Chesnoff, a Las Vegas-based attorney for Lewandowski, said in an email Wednesday afternoon: “Accusations and rumors appear to be morphing by the minute and we will not dignify them with a further response.”
Noem, who is considered a potential 2024 GOP vice-presidential contender, has recently come under scrutiny for a meeting she organized for her daughter and the state employee charged with leading the agency that moved to deny her application to become a certified real estate appraiser. The meeting prompted allegations of abuse of power among some state lawmakers, and South Dakota’s attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, is reviewing the matter.
It’s not clear what steps Ravnsborg plans to take, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.
Noem reportedly organized a meeting in her office on July 27, 2020, to discuss “appraiser certification procedures” that included her daughter Kassidy Noem-Peters and Sherry Bren, the head of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation’s appraiser certification program; Bren’s supervisor; and South Dakota Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman.
While Noem’s daughter secured her certification months later, in November 2020, Bren says she was subsequently pushed to retire in a conversation with Hultman. That’s according to an age-discrimination complaint Bren eventually filed against the Department of Labor and Regulation.
Bren settled with the state for $200,000 on March 31, but the department did not admit fault and she agreed not to disparage it in public, according to a copy of the complaint shared by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
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The Washington Post’s Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.