Governor Dennis Daugaard's economic development chief Pat Costello stirred us up a bit at the Legislature's March 7 hearing on the Governor's Office of Economic Development when he announced that in addition to the federal investigation of GOED's handling of the EB-5 visa investor program, his office is handling information requests from three other federal agencies. Costello suggested that publicity surrounding EB-5 may have induced other federal agencies to take a look at South Dakota's use of federal dollars.
But hold the phone: nothing so sensational seems be happening here. When I contacted the Department of Housing and Urban Development, both the Sioux Falls office and regional Denver office weren't sure what information request Costello was talking about. GOED responded that HUD simply selected South Dakota for "a routine monitoring" as part of HUD's "annual risk analysis process," a four-day process that is tentatively scheduled for June.
The other two information requests seem similarly innocuous:
The U.S. Treasury review resulted from GOED's request for its third tranche of funding for the SD Works program.
The U.S. Department of Energy review was to determine whether SD effectively and efficiently managed State Energy Program Funding.
To date, GOED has not received any adverse findings resulting from either of the foregoing reviews [Governor's Office of Economic Development, e-mail, 2014.03.12].
Oddly, we have here a situation where the GOED commissioner himself may have been fanning smoke where there is no fire.