South Dakota sent a written apology and paid a $300,000 settlement to Transformation Project, a Sioux Falls-based transgender advocacy group.

The state had canceled a contract with the organization to provide a community health worker for political reasons. The money the group lost was from a state-administered federal grant. The money paid for a health worker to provide services to the LGBTQ community from its office in Sioux Falls.

The contract was canceled after a right-wing news outlet asked Gov. Kristi Noem about the contract. The governor claimed no knowledge of the contract nor did she approve it. The secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health resigned as a result of the controversy.

In its apology letter, the state acknowledged that all residents of the state have a right to healthcare.

“I want to emphasize that all South Dakotans are entitled to equal treatment under the law — regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, or sex. South Dakota is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subject to discrimination under any program, activity, or service that it provides,” wrote the current Secretary of the Department of Health in her apology letter.

Susan Williams, executive director of The Transformation Project, said the organization was vindicated.

— David Taffet