State Senator Jessica Castleberry of Rapid City and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley have come to an agreement for Castleberry to return COVID funds that were wrongly allocated to a business she owns.
Governor Kristy Noem asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the $603,229 received by Senator Jessica Castleberry and her business, Little Nest Preschool to help with daycare related expenses during the COVID epidemic.
The investigation discovered that Castleberry used $499,129 of those funds, which Jackley says is a violation of Article 3 of the South Dakota Constitution, which prohibits state legislators from having any involvement in contracts with the state or counties during their terms. It was determined that $104,100 was given to qualified families who were in need of economic help. That amount does not need to be reimbursed.
An agreement has been made for Castleberry to repay the funds with interest at the federal rate.
”And so it’s a balance, again, that balance was achieved with the $104,100 because those were a flow through they went straight to needy parents to qualified under the rules. But with respect to the other funds, those would have been in my opinion, in direct violation of the state constitution. When there is a violation of the Constitution, it voids a contract. It’s not a criminal matter,” said South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.
After Castleberry’s resignation, she said via email:
“I’m humbled to be appointed and honored to be elected. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the people of the state of South Dakota.”