Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City) tells me she has received about twenty signatures from fellow legislators, Democrat and Republican, joining her in her call for a special session to authorize an audit of the Governor's Office of Economic Development and SDRC Inc., the private contractor that ran the state's EB-5 visa investment program. That's well short of the 47 Representatives and 24 Senators she'd need to convene the Legislature early.
But many more legislators, again, from both parties, have told Rep. Tyler that they want answers about GOED and EB-5:
Many legislators told me they too want answers to the many questions raised about the EB-5 program but that a special session wasn’t the right venue, and I understand that. They pointed to an article by South Dakota government reporter Bob Mercer, which laid out how the state legislature’s executive board, which has subpoena and summons powers, can authorize an investigation.
I had, in fact, already followed Mr. Mercer’s advice. I asked to be placed on the agenda of the November 18th executive board meeting; however, the board rejected my request because of ongoing state investigations. With state investigations closed, we’re now left with more questions than answers.
Because of continuing bipartisan support for an investigation of the South Dakota’s EB-5 program and its projects, I’m renewing my request for an independent forensic audit at the next executive board meeting on Monday, December 16 [Rep. Kathy Tyler, press release, 2013.12.11].
The Legislature's Executive Board meets Monday: let's see if at least eight of its fifteen members will put truth and openness over squeamish partisan pettifoggery and vote to pursue the answers South Dakotans deserve.
Rep. Tyler's call for answers receives strong support today from the Rapid City Journal. Directly refuting the smokescreen raised by the GOP spin machine, RCJ says that by shrugging at the misappropriation of over half a million state taxpayer dollars, the Attorney General is failing to do his job:
The diversion of $550,000 in state funds to pay loan fees for SDRC is a serious matter that should be investigated. Who authorized the diversion, and what, exactly, did the money pay for?
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said he turned the investigation over to the FBI, which was already investigating the EB-5 program. He says it’s a federal matter, and he isn’t going to try to recover the state’s money.
Jackley isn’t doing his job, in our view; the state should investigate where state funds went and how they were used.
Rep. Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City, is calling for an independent forensic audit of SDRC. Tyler wants the state to “follow the money.”
We agree. Let the FBI investigate the federal EB-5 visa program; South Dakota should find out where its money went [editorial, "State Should Audit Diverted Funds," Rapid City Journal, 2013.12.12].
The Rapid City Journal joins its press cohorts in Aberdeen and Mitchell in demanding a more vigorous investigation than the Attorney General and Governor are giving us on the GOED/EB-5 affair. As RCJ says, it's pretty simple: state money was misused; we should find out who misused it and those folks accountable.