Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) says the Government Operations and Audit Committee's probe of financial misconduct in the Governor's Office of Economic Develoment and the EB-5 visa investment program are pretty much over.
Over? I didn't even notice that they'd begun.
- the shady offshore financing by Epoch Star of Northern Beef Packers;
- the wildly inflated job creation projections that motivated GOED to back Northern Beef Packers with EB-5 dollars;
- the $4.3 million in taxpayer dollars and $167 million in total investment that disappeared in the drawn-out construction, brief operation, and swift bankruptcy of Northern Beef Packers;
- the lowballing of Joop Bollen's salary to allow GOED chief Richard Benda to privatize the state's EB-5 program under a no-bid contract;
- the national security risks identified in the EB-5 program by the Department of Homeland Security and GOED's complicity therein;
- the care-free lame-duck checks Governor Mike Rounds wrote for NBP while the state budget tanked, with no oversight besides Richard Benda standing over his shoulder and making corrections;
- the use of EB-5 money at NBP and the Dakota Provisions turkey plant in Huron to refinance loans rather than to create jobs (and creating jobs is all we're supposed to be doing with EB-5 money)
- the curious flows of EB-5 money from Dakota Provisions and other EB-5 projects to Northern Beef Packers
- the possibility that the EB-5 program could have been violating federal securities law;
- the possibility that GOED was letting Joop Bollen run a bank without a license;
- the secrecy with which Benda and Bollen expanded and operated EB-5.
That's not an exhaustive list of topics related to the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the EB-5 program that legislators of good conscience thought they were directing Chairman Tidemann and GOAC to address. But it's a good starting list of the symptoms of the culture of corruption in Pierre. Chairman Tidemann and his Republican colleagues have ignored this list of symptoms, put their stethoscope to GOED's big toe, declared the patient healthy, and gone golfing.