A new campaign finance report shows that two women related by marriage to Democratic nominee for governor Billie Sutton gave a combined $2,500 to support Republican nominee Kristi Noem, and Noem's campaign said the two women have since given a combined $17,000 in additional contributions that will show up on a future campaign finance report.
The report filed Monday by the Noem-Rhoden Victory Committee shows that Linda Lillibridge, of Burke, gave $500 to the committee's Sept. 7 fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump in Sioux Falls. Linda Lillibridge is the grandmother of Sutton’s wife, Kelsea Sutton.
The Noem campaign said Linda Lillibridge has subsequently given an additional $9,000, for a total of $9,500. The Noem campaign said the total will be divvied up pursuant to contribution limits as follows: $4,000 to the Kristi for Governor committee, $4,000 to Rhoden for Lieutenant Governor (the committee of Noem's running mate, Larry Rhoden) and $1,500 to KRISTI PAC (Noem's federal political action committee).
Monday's campaign finance report also shows that Kelsea Sutton's great aunt, Cindy Lillibridge, of Bonesteel, gave $2,000 to Noem's fundraiser with Trump. The Noem campaign said Cindy Lillibridge has since given an additional $8,000, for a total of $10,000, which will be divvied up as follows: $4,000 to Kristi for Governor, $4,000 to Rhoden for Lieutenant Governor and $2,000 to KRISTI PAC.
Cindy Lillibridge said by phone Tuesday that she will vote for Noem.
“We love Billie and Kelsea dearly, but we can’t support the Democratic Party,” she said.
Linda Lillibridge could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Sutton's campaign manager, Suzanne Jones Pranger, issued the following written statement in response to a request for comment.
"The Lillibridge family has supported Republican candidates for decades, so it's no surprise that family members would attend when the President of the United States visits South Dakota," the statement said. "The late John Lillibridge was one of Billie Sutton's strongest supporters in his race for Governor. Sutton marrying into a well-known conservative family shows how truly bipartisan Billie is and how he has never put politics before personal relationships."
Linda Lillibridge is the widow of John Lillibridge, and Cindy Lillibridge is the widow of Tom Lillibridge. John and Tom Lillibridge were both involved in the family banking business, First Fidelity Bank, which has locations in Burke and six other South Dakota towns. The bank is now run by Kelsea Sutton's father, George Kenzy. Kelsea Sutton is a compliance officer for the bank, and Billie Sutton is an investment representative for the bank.
Noem's campaign manager, Justin Brasell, also issued a written statement in response to a request for comment.
"Kristi is grateful for the support she's received from those who know Billie Sutton best," the statement said.
Contributions to Noem’s fundraiser with Trump were made public Monday in a campaign finance report filed by the Noem-Rhoden Victory Committee. The joint fundraising committee was organized for the Sept. 7 fundraiser that Noem hosted with Trump at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, where a total of about $520,000 was raised.
Donors were allowed to give up to $23,000 to the Noem-Rhoden Victory Committee, and the money subsequently flowed to four other committees pursuant to predetermined allocations.
The minimum contributions to attend the fundraiser with Trump were $5,000 per couple for a photo with Trump and admittance to Trump's remarks, and $1,000 per couple or $500 per person for admittance to the remarks only.