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MAGA Gov. Kristi Noem Is Now Being Sued for Her Weird Teeth Surgery Ad

Kristi Noem probably wasn’t smiling after being served a lawsuit on Wednesday. Earlier this week, the South Dakota governor released a highly produced video on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Truth Social, touting the dental work she had done at Smile Texas.

Travelers United, a nonprofit focused on travel and consumer protection, sued Noem over the video, alleging that the governor acted in a “misleading and deceptive” manner in failing to disclose that it was an advertisement. The lawsuit describes Noem as a social media influencer, citing her various accounts and that she had to have been paid for the video. Since Noem had her treatment done in Texas, Travellers United argues the undisclosed ad also promotes a form of medical tourism. The lawsuit was first reported by Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine.

“Years ago I was out bike riding with all of my kids when they were little and had a biking accident and knocked out all of my front teeth,” Noem says in the video, adding that she “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.”

“I spent my whole life farming and ranching, riding horses, chasing cows and then got into government and politics where everything is speaking and interviews and giving speeches,” Noem says, heaping praise on the team at Smile Texas. “I want when people look at me to hear the words that I say and not be distracted by something I am wearing or how I look or even my appearance.”

The video ends with a still image of Smile Texas’ logo.

“It’s very clear that anybody that promotes travel products, services, medical tourism, space, travel — anything like that — needs to say that something is an ad, an advertisement, or sponsored in the caption, and throughout essentially the video, according to the law,” Lauren Wolfe, counsel at Travelers United, tells Rolling Stone.

“The issue here is that she should have disclosed that it was an ad, and just used that really simple language — ‘ad’ at the beginning of the caption — and maybe said in the video very briefly exactly what happened. If she got free services, if she was paid for it, just to be transparent, and that would have complied with the law,” she adds.

The filing, which was obtained by Rolling Stone, states: “Someone with a very busy job does not take time off of that job to make a free advertisement for medical services in another state.”

“No one with an extremely important job in South Dakota would fly to Texas to receive dental treatment and then sit in that office and film an advertisement without some form of compensation,” the filing ads, including images that match the background on Noem’s video with photos of the Smile Texas offices. “Kristi Noem acted here as an influencer. She likely either received free dental care in exchange for this advertisement, discounted dental care in exchange for this advertisement or she was paid and received free dental care for the advertisement. Unfortunately Noem did not mark this as an ‘Ad’ or ‘Advertisement’ when posting so she is participating in an unfair and deceptive practice.”

When one pictures influencers, they typically don’t picture an elected official. However, with their massive platforms, direct lines to constituents, and ability to influence policies and laws, elected officials are in a way some of the most prominent influencers in the country. Noem is being floated as a prospective vice presidential pick for former President Donald Trump, who made much of his fortune through licensing deals that one could argue constituted influencer marketing before the term even existed. As consumer trends become increasingly entangled with online influencer marketing, organizations like Travelers United want to make clear that anyone can be an influencer, so long as they comply with the rules.

“If you’re an influencer, that’s great, that’s awesome,” Wolfe says. “But you gotta realize that there are certain laws and rules that comply with all of this, and just be open and honest so that you are not being unfair and deceptive when you post those advertised posts.”

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