South Dakota state senator ordered to pay back over $600,000 in COVID relief

The state’s attorney general orders a member of the legislature to repay COVID relief dollars or face prosecution.

It involves the inappropriate use of COVID relief dollars by state Senator Jessica Castleberry of Rapid City.

Governor Kristi Noem sent a letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley on Tuesday asking that his office investigate possible constitutional and statutory violations committed by Castleberry when she and her business accepted more than $600,000 in COVID relief while she served in the Legislature. The State Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that such payments to elected officials were illegal.

Jackley sent a letter to Senator Castleberry requesting she repay the full amount. He says the state will pursue court action if the full amount is not repaid. The Republican Senator has 10 days to respond.

Castleberry says she believed her preschool was eligible for the funding and she was open with the state Department of Social Services about her grant applications.


July 28, 2023