While Pat Powers continues his 'Move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here' routine, plenty of other bloggers and mainstream journalists are finding lots to see and talk about related to the potentially corrupt EB-5 visa program in this state. They're also talking about the program's connection to various ventures in the state (most notably the failed Northern Beef Packers plant) and to state political and business leaders (most notably former Governor Marion Michael Rounds).
And today, for the first time I've heard on the record, that talk turned directly to how this scandal might affect Smilin' Mike's campaign for a new job representing South Dakota in the U.S. Senate. South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Dakota Midday talked to two of its "Dakota Political Junkies" today, and host Karl Gehrke devoted more than three-quarters of the 20-minute set to the complexities of this story. He asked if there would be political fallout for Rounds, and here's what his panelists said (after clarifying that any fallout depends a lot on the outcome of the ongoing investigation):
If you are somebody running against Mike Rounds, you are going to do everything you can to sort of use this to cast doubt on his tenure as Governor. This is a political liability for him, no doubt about it; it's a question of how big it's going to be [Jonathan Ellis, as interviewed by Karl Gehrke, Dakota Midday, 2013/11/06 timestamp 10:01].
No doubt about it, says Ellis. Jon Hunter says how big the liability is might depend on how long all of us keep talking about it:
The longer the story goes on, the longer it will be associated with former Governor Rounds [Jon Hunter, Dakota Midday, 2013/11/06 timestamp 10:38].
Since one thing almost everyone seems ready to agree on is that we haven't heard everything the investigations will yield, I'd bet that the story has longevity that will keep the words "Rounds" and "economic development scandal" in the same vicinity for quite awhile.
*Bonus alternate storyline: If you're someone who'd like to make the EB-5 mess less of a liability for Rounds, Hunter gives you your talking points:
I think this story really is about the eagerness of doing [the Northern Beef Packers] project. All along, the eagerness overwhelmed, maybe, the financials of it or the logical business plan of it. ... Eagerness and desperation then led to some other practices that are now under investigation [Jon Hunter, Dakota Midday, 2013/11/06 timestamp 01:22].
Don't you just hate it when eager do-good-ery turns into a state and federal investigation?