Dan Lederman's Rushmore PAC is bringing Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley to a Sioux City fundraiser for South Dakota Republican Senate candidate Marion Michael Rounds.

$10 a plate? Heck, I'd pay double that to listen in on Grassley and Rounds discussing the EB-5 visa investment program. Let's sample Senator Grassley's public statements on EB-5:

Over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount of foreigners using this visa program. At first glance, this appeared to be a positive development. But, as whistleblowers came forward, and we took a detailed look, there appear to be some major flaws that need fixing [Senator Charles Grassley, "EB-5 Visa Program Faces Tough Questions," official website, 2013.12.20].

According to the HSI memo, ICE identified seven main areas of program vulnerability with the EB-5 visa:

  1. Export of sensitive technology/economic espionage;
  2. Use by foreign government agents/espionage;
  3. Use by terrorists;
  4. Investment fraud by regional center;
  5. Investment fraud by investors;
  6. Fraud conspiracies by investors and regional center; and
  7. Illicit finance/money laundering.

The memo states: “The aforementioned vulnerabilities are directly affected by information gaps on the alien beneficiaries of the EB-5 program. Unlike most other permanent resident visa classifications, EB-5 beneficiaries do not need to establish a significant and verifiable background for program eligibility” [Senator Charles Grassley, letter to ICE Acting Director John Sandweg, quoted in "Internal Memo Outlines National Security Concerns with EB-5 Immigration Program," official website, 2013.12.12].

Along with the above national security concerns, Senator Grassley has raised alarm about abuse of EB-5 to benefit political cronies. Yet candidate Rounds has expressed unfettered fondness for the program that blossomed under his gubernatorial watch in South Dakota:

Rounds said EB-5 helped him create 28,000 jobs when he was governor, and it was used for several successful projects, including The Dakota Provisions turkey plant in Huron, several dairies and the Deadwood Mountain Grand hotel, casino and event center.

But EB-5 funds also were used to fund the failed Northern Beef Packers plant, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year because it lacked money to buy cattle for slaughter. The Aberdeen plant, which also used about $3.5 million in state Future Fund Grants and $845,000 in construction tax refunds, has been bought at auction but sits idle.

Rounds said the state's investment is offset by taxes generated from the plant's construction and the property takes paid to local jurisdictions.

Personally, I hope they continue the EB-5 program.... because it's one more tool available. We don't exactly have a lot of capital in South Dakota [Mike Rounds, quoted in Joe O'Sullivan, "Rounds Defends EB-5 Program,"Rapid City Journal, 2014.01.16].

And don't forget Rounds's unmitigated support for EB-5 expressed in the April GOP primary debate in Pierre:

Rounds, who now plays Michael Douglas to EB-5's Glenn Close but who keeps boinking her instead of drowning her in the bathtub as he should before she kills someone he loves, says EB-5 is all about creating job opportunities, and we can't turn down job opportunities in the middle of a recession (what? says the BEA). He pokes back at Ravnsborg (and any time the frontrunner pokes back, you guys are winning!) with semantics: EB-5 doesn't sell citizenship, just green cards. (Sure, Mike: try that distinction out at the next Tea Party forum.) Rounds claims South Dakota lost no taxpayer dollars on EB-5 (baloney at best, semantics at worst, if Rounds is parsing the argument that it was his beef plant NBP that lost the money and not his EB-5 program). To conclude with both irrelevancy and falsehood, Rounds claims to have created 28,000 jobs while governor (South Dakota Department of Labor statistics show 406,405 jobs in South Dakota in January 2003 and 422,445 jobs in Janaury 2011; net increase during Rounds administration: 16,040, meaning Rounds is exaggerating by 75%.) [C.A. Heidelberger, "GOP Senate Debate: Who Said What, and Who Won?" Madville Times, 2014.04.13]

Rounds expressed a similar sentiment in a May KSFY interview, in which he swept away any concerns about EB-5 with his implication that creating jobs makes everything o.k.

Lederman is keeping things tight: it's just brunch, one measly hour, 11 a.m. to noon, at Eldon's Restaurant (as in founder Eldon Roth of Beef Products, Inc.), this Saturday, August 16. So amidst all the hand-shaking and check-writing (checks, because you know Rounds doesn't dig all that new-fangled technology enough to have Square swipers on his iPad, right?), there probably won't be time for Grassley and Rounds to have a frank discussion about EB-5.

But for the sake of national security and honest economic development, maybe Grassley should make time to straighten Rounds out.

Related Reading: Remember how Canada shut down its immigrant-investor program, the one that inspired our EB-5, because they decided it wasn't producing significant economic benefits? Rich foreigners are now suing Canada to reopen the program... because, you know, rich people are entitled to buy whatever they want, including citizenship and your vote.