Former South Dakota state senator, 68-year-old Craig Tieszen, was one of two men who drowned in a kayaking accident yesterday off Muri Lagoon in the Cook Islands.
Most recently Mr Tieszen was a state representative.
The other man who died was Mr Tieszen's brother in law Brent Moline, who was 61, police said.
The men had gone beyond the reef near Taakoka at Muri.
Police said the duo were swept over the reef and capsized in the open sea.