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By Mae Slater on
 March 14, 2024

Governor Kristi Noem, favorite to be Donald Trump's Vice President, sued over video with Texas dental provider

A recent legal battle has brought South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem into the spotlight, this time for a matter that diverges from her usual political endeavors.

The Hill reported that Travelers United, a consumer advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit against Governor Noem, alleging she broke consumer protection laws by posting an undisclosed advertisement for Smile Texas, a cosmetic dentistry company, on social media.

This comes as speculation that Noem could be selected to be former President Donald Trump's Vice President.

The group argues that the governor used her social media presence to benefit a private company without disclosing the promotional nature of her posts. This action, they claim, violates consumer protection laws in Washington, D.C.

A Deep Dive into the Allegations

According to the lawsuit, the video shared by Governor Noem was almost five minutes long and heavily featured Smile Texas, showcasing before and after images of her dental procedure. The narrative constructed in the video suggested a personal testimonial rather than a neutral advertisement, with Noem speaking highly of the dental team's expertise and the impact of their work on her life.

The governor mentioned that she sought the services of Smile Texas following a biking accident that necessitated dental adjustments. Her testimonial, seemingly filmed within the company's premises, extolled the team's remarkable skills and the newfound confidence and pride she felt in her smile.

Questionable Practices under Scrutiny

The heart of the lawsuit's allegations lies in the claim that Noem acted more as an influencer than a public servant in this instance. By not labeling the video as an advertisement, she is accused of engaging in deceptive practices that could mislead consumers. This blurring of lines between personal endorsement and official duty has raised ethical questions about the governor's actions.

“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),” according to the suit.

Governor Noem's own words in the video highlight the personal benefit she derived from Smile Texas's services.

“I’m the governor of South Dakota and had the opportunity to come to Smile Texas to fix my teeth, which has been absolutely amazing. But the team here was remarkable and finally gave me a smile that I can be proud of and confident in and that really is a gift that I think is going to be incredibly special to have. You know I think that I chose the team here at Smile Texas because they’re the best,” she continued.

Legal and Ethical Implications

This lawsuit underscores a growing concern over the use of social media by public figures to endorse products or services without clear disclosure. The case against Noem could set a precedent for how politicians navigate the increasingly blurred lines between personal influence and public duty.

The implications of the case extend beyond Noem and Smile Texas. They touch on broader issues of transparency and trust in the digital age, where the distinction between genuine endorsements and paid advertisements is often murky.

Seeking Accountability and Clarity

Travelers United is pushing for Noem to label any future promoted content clearly as advertising, a demand that underscores the need for transparency in endorsements by public officials. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages, though the primary focus appears to be on ensuring clearer disclosure practices in the future.

Attempts to reach both Travelers United and Governor Noem's office for comment were made by The Hill, reflecting the ongoing interest and scrutiny the case has attracted from the media and the public alike.


  • Travelers United filed a lawsuit against Governor Kristi Noem for an undisclosed advertisement on social media, violating consumer protection laws.
  • The video promoted Smile Texas and featured personal testimonials from Noem, highlighting the results of her dental surgery.
  • The lawsuit alleges Noem benefited physically and financially from the promotion without proper advertisement labeling.
  • Legal and ethical questions have been raised regarding the blending of personal endorsement and public duty by politicians on social media.
  • The case may set a precedent for transparency and disclosure in social media endorsements by public figures.
Written By:
Mae Slater

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