In reviewing a big pile of vouchers, receipts, and other documents from the Governor's Office of Economic Development from 2009 to 2013, South Dakota's auditor general found that Governor Mike Rounds let slide some sloppy financial oversight.
I find a couple of small examples of that sloppy oversight among the vouchers submitted by GOED (actually, the office was then called the Department of Tourism and State Development) chief Richard Benda.
In 2009 and 2010, on multiple trips to the Far East to recruit EB-5 visa investors from China, the Philippines, and Vietnam (!?!), Benda frequently included requests for reimbursement for "newspapers/magazines marketing/research." As one would expect, Benda included receipts. Some of the receipt copies I'm reviewing are illegible. Some simply list "Periodicals".
But two help us understand the research necessary to market South Dakota's EB-5 opportunities. Consider this receipt from the Minneapolis airport, dated December 15, 2009, submitted by Benda April 21, 2010, for reimbursement for "News/magazines marketing/prospecting research":
...or this one from the Detroit airport, March 13, 2010, submitted by Benda on May 12, 2010, for reimbursement for "newspapers/magazines marketing/research":
Gentlemen's Quarterly, Esquire, Runner's World, Men's Journal, Men's Fitness... yes, because Benda and SDRC Inc. were pitching... a suit factory in Veblen? A health spa in Aberdeen? A men's salon in Lake Andes?
And don't forget the Planters Nut & Choc in Detroit. (That one I can buy as a meal expense. Guy's gotta eat....)
This stray $59 in obviously personal expense is small potatoes compared to the $5,600 in double-billed airline tickets, the thousands more in ill-documented "translation services," and the half-million-plus diverted from a state grant to Benda's pocket and pals. But these receipts are two more small puzzle pieces that fill in the larger picture of fiscal sloppiness and corruption in the office run by M. Michael Rounds.