Mar 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Kristi Noem faces lawsuit over video praising Texas dentist

South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem arrives to speak during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting on February 23, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in National Harbor, Maryland, last month. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is being accused in a lawsuit of breaching D.C. consumer protection laws over online video posts this week that praised a Texas dentist.

Why it matters: The lawsuit consumer advocacy group Travelers United filed against Noem on Wednesday comes weeks after presumptive 2024 Republican nominee former President Trump hinted that she's among the frontrunners on his vice presidential shortlist.

  • South Dakota State Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D) is calling for an inquiry into Noem over what he said was a "very strange" five-minute video "about how much she enjoyed having her teeth done" at Smile Texas, a Houston-area cosmetic dentistry firm, per AP.

Context: Noem says in the video posted to all the governor's social media accounts that Smile Texas adjusted her teeth following a biking accident years ago.

  • She said the team is "the best" and "gave me a smile that I can be proud of and confident in."

Driving the news: "As a social media influencer and politician Kristi Noem is herself a brand and she is promoting a service that benefits her — both physically (a new smile) and financially (she was either paid or received free or reduced cost medical services in exchange for the advertisement)," alleges Travelers United in the lawsuit.

  • The suit, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, accuses Noem of "deceptive advertising practices" and alleges that she was acting as "an influencer" in the videos.

Zoom in: "She likely either received free dental care in exchange for this advertisement, discounted dental care in exchange for this advertisement or she was paid and received free dental care for the advertisement," it adds.

  • "Unfortunately Noem did not mark this as an 'Ad' or 'Advertisement' when posting so she is participating in an unfair and deceptive practice," it continues.
  • Noem's representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment and Smile Texas could not be immediately reached for comment.
  • A person who answered the firm's phone cited privacy laws when AP asked for comment.

Go deeper: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem endorses Trump

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