A spokesman for South Dakota governor Kristi Noem criticized “conservative cancel culture” on Wednesday, after Noem received pushback from conservatives for refusing to immediately sign a bill that would bar biological males from participating in women’s sports.
“In the past year, [Noem] was the only governor in the entire nation to never order a single business or church in her state to close. The left bullied her incessantly, but she didn’t cave,” spokesman Ian Fury said in a statement.
“But if any number of conservative pundits are to be believed, that same governor who refused to cave is now caving to the NCAA and Amazon on the issue of fairness in women’s sports,” Fury added. “What? Apparently, uninformed cancel culture is fine when the right is eating their own.”
Noem sent the bill back to the South Dakota legislature last week, saying that the legislation’s “vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences.” The governor appeared to hint that because the bill would apply to college athletics, the National Collegiate Athletic Association could penalize the state’s college athletics programs if the bill were passed in its current form.
Additionally, South Dakota state senator Reynold Nesiba, a Democrat from Sioux Falls, said earlier this month that he was “worried” that if Noem signed the bill, Amazon could refuse to move forward with a fulfillment center under construction in the city.
Noem defended her decision not to sign the bill in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday, after Carlson alleged that Noem supported the bill until “big business intercedes, [the] NCAA, Chamber of Commerce and Amazon and tell you not to sign it — and you change your mind.”
Well, that’s not true, Tucker,” Noem responded. “I could sign the bill the way that it is today…but it wouldn’t solve the problem.”
“This bill would only allow the NCAA to bully South Dakota,” Noem added. “And it would actually prevent women from being able to participate in collegiate sports. So what I have done is I have asked the legislature…to change the bill.”
Noem suggested changing the bill to apply only to elementary through high school athletics, and to allow athletes to compete according to their biological sex “as reflected on the birth certificate or affidavit provided upon initial enrollment.” The governor warned in a Monday press conference that passing the bill in its current form would amount to a “participation trophy” that could get the state “punished, then we could face expensive litigation at taxpayer expense, and then we could lose.”
However, State Representative Rhonda Milstead, a Republican and one of the sponsors of the bill, told the Argus Leader that Noem is “gutting the bill and writing a new law, and that’s not her job.”