SD School Of Mines President Files Financial Disclosures For Air Force Secretary Confirmation

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Heather Wilson, the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is moving forward on her confirmation process to be the Secretary of the Air Force under President Donald J. Trump.

A confirmation hearing is scheduled in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) serves on that committee.

56-year-old Wilson is the first of Trump’s military service nominees moving forward, outside the Secretary of Defense. His picks for Secretaries of Army and Navy had to withdraw their nominations due to financial entanglements.

KELOLAND News Investigates obtained a copy of Wilson’s Public Financial Disclosure Report to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. This document shows sources of income and assets.

Wilson also filed a separate letter to the Department of Defense’s Office of General Counsel outlining the steps she will take to avoid conflict of interests.

She will resign from her role as president of the School of Mines, director at Raven Industries and director of Peabody Energy Co.

She’s also facing a substantial salary drop. According to OpenSD, Wilson currently makes $351,839.76 in her role as the University president.

She also makes $200,333 as a director of coal company Peabody Energy and $46,000 as a director at Raven.

She’ll likely make $178,700 in her role as secretary, according to That’s almost a $420,000 drop in pay.

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For her role with Raven, Wilson will lose out on her between $50,000 and $100,000 in vested restricted stock. She will exchange that for stock and divest all within 90 days of confirmation.

Wilson will also resign from:

  • The South Dakota Science and Technology Authority
  • Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
  • South Dakota Mines Foundation
  • Rapid City Economic Development
  • Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Destination Rapid City/Main Street Square
  • South Dakota Research Committee
  • Scowcroft Institute at Texas A&M University

Wilson and her husband Jay plan to divest stocks from 16 stocks of Department of Defense contractors.

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Wilson will also receive her retirement from the State of South Dakota and says she may still contribute to South Dakota’s supplemental retirement plan.

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If confirmed, Wilson would be the first Air Force Academy graduate in that position.

Before coming to South Dakota in 2013, she was a New Mexico Congresswoman.

She was also a Rhodes Scholar who served on the National Security Council during the George H.W. Bush administration.

As KELOLAND News Investigates previously reported, Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics named Wilson “one of the most corrupt members of Congress” in 2007.

One topic that may come up at this week’s hearing could also be her work with DOD contractor Lockheed Martin.

The Center for Public Integrity showed how her “extraordinary familiarity with Washington to craft a lobbying strategy meant to avoid having to compete for the renewal of a government contract that brought in huge profits.”

CPI’s investigation discovered emails where Wilson said, “competition is not in the best interest of the government.” Meanwhile, back in KELOLAND the Board of Regents plan to conduct a national search for her replacement after she if confirmed by the Senate.

“South Dakota’s loss will be the nation’s gain,” said Randy Schaefer, president of the South Dakota Board of Regents in a January statement. “During her four years at Mines, Heather Wilson has found money for new buildings, established new programs, increased research, grown enrollment, deepened the connection between the university and the community, and improved financial management. She’s been a great university leader.”

Schaefer said an interim president will be appointed during the search.