One of the main responses Mike Rounds has offered to revelations of misconduct in the state's EB-5 visa investment program is that he didn't run EB-5; the Board of Regents did.

Testimony under oath from Northern State University counsel John Meyer on April 24, 2014, in a deposition for the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration contradicts Rounds's statements:

[Darley attorney Jennifer Elkayam]: Or what entity provides SDIBI with the authority to conduct foreign direct investment activities?

[Meyer]: In the State of South Dakota, that area is handled and funded through the Governor's Office of Economic Development, which is a subbranch of the South Dakota Department of Tourism and Development [John Meyer, deposition, Darley v. SDIBI, Los Angeles, California, 2014.04.24, p. 23].

Agreements between GOED and NSU authorizing SDIBI's work show budget items from NSU, but Meyer says those items included little cash:

[Elkayam]: Did SDIBI ever receive funding from NSU at any point in time?

[Meyer]: Well, I notice here it mentions a cooperative effort. That cooperative effort was limited on NSU's part. I have observed, in some of the documentation, that NSU's contribution was roughly $100,000 per annum. The remainder of the budget, which would be much larger, would have come directly from "GOED" or GOED. I should also add that the bulk of that $100,000 contribution would be in provision of office space, the general overhead support, utility support, communication support, et cetera. I believe the actual cash infusion from NSU would be negligible [Meyer, 2014.04.24, p. 25].

Bollen testified in his April 16, 2014, deposition in Darley v. SDIBI that he answered to NSU Dean of Business Clyde Arnold but that such answering was generally limited to cc-ing Dean Arnold on monthly updates e-mailed directly to the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Elkayam asks Meyer about the chain of command:

[Elkayam]: Do you know whether Mr. Bollen reported to Dr. Arnold between 2007 and 2009?

[Meyer]: Actually, he reported to the titular head of the Department of Tourism and State Development or GOED, and I believe that position was sort of a two-hatted division of the secretary of that department [Meyer, 2014.04.24, p. 28].

The titular head of GOED during the specified time frame was Richard Benda.

Meyer says any accountability Bollen had to NSU was on minor accounting matters, not the core operations of the EB-5 program or SDIBI in general:

[Elkayam]: Who did Mr. Bollen report to within NSU between 2007 and 2009?

[Meyer]: Well, we're looking at "Operations" down there at the bottom of this current exhibit, and I would have to say that for operational purposes, for those functions, he reported to whoever was the titular head of the Department of State of Tourism and Development or, as I said, who would also be heading the GOED operations.

[Elkayam]: So no one within NSU?

[Meyer]: Not for operations.

[Elkayam]: For any other purpose?

[Meyer]: What -- what would occur is reconciliation of payroll expenditures. For instance, we just looked at this previous exhibit that's identified as 1(8). Obviously there would be some accounting reconciliations concerning his salary, travel, et cetera [Meyer, 2014.04.24, p. 34].

Meyer says Bollen submitted his primary budgets (the accuracy of which Bollen himself called into question in his deposition) and accounting information to GOED:

[Elkayam]: Did he [Bollen] ever submit any type of budgets for approval to anyone within NSU?

[Meyer] I don't believe he did, to my knowledge. I believe he submitted his budget requests and his accounting of expenditures to GOED [Meyer, 2014.04.24, pp. 34–35].

Meyer states under oath that he does not believe Bollen obtained authorization from anyone at NSU or the Board of Regents for his January 2008 SDIBI–SDRC Inc. contract [p. 45]. He says that the functions described in that contract exceeded the parameters of the SDIBI mission statement approved by the Regents in 1994 [p. 48] as well as the operating authority granted to SDIBI by GOED and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service [p. 51]. Meyer also says that Bollen and SDIBI received no Regental authorization for memoranda of understanding sent to EB-5 investors [pp. 57–58].

Operating thus outside the bounds of granted authority, as exhibited by SDIBI's off-book partnership with the Hanul law firm, prompted a meeting involving  NSU's new president, Dr. James Smith, in 2009:

[Meyer]: ...there was a meeting that occurred at NSU between myself and Dr. Smith and Rich Benda and Joop Bollen and [V.P. finance and administration] Don Ehrlenbusch, and that meeting would have occurred in July of 2009.

[Elkayam]: And what did you talk about at that meeting?

[Meyer]: The -- you know, it's been five years now and the meeting was attended by myself, because I was asked to come, because there was a concern about the -- the employment of Hanul Law Firm. And there was also a concern at NSU about, shall I just say the activities that had been uncovered, and it was prompted by the transition between Dr. Laurie Nichols, who had been an interim president at Northern, and Dr. Smith's arrival, taking over her duties.

[Elkayam]: You said the employment of Hanul. Was that employment by SDIBI of Hanul?

[Meyer]: There was a concern that there had been no employment that any of us were aware of and that there should not have been [Meyer, 2014.04.24, pp. 56].

This July 2009 meeting fits the narrative that emerges from Bollen's deposition that NSU and the Regents may have been trying to shut SDIBI down and that only intervention from Benda and the Governor's Office of Economic Development kept Bollen and EB-5 going.

Meyer concludes that he does not believe that Bollen "was supervised by NSU in the sense that you would expect as an employee" [p. 73].

5 comments

Everything comes around....

In an October 10 blog post, Bob Mercer reported that the relationship between South Dakota's EB-5 czar Joop Bollen and Hanul Professional Law Corporation attorney James Park began in a Korean prison:

According to Park’s testimony, Park met Bollen during a failed attempt by Bollen to recruit in South Korea. Park said he helped get a NSU faculty member (who isn’t named) and a friend of the faculty member out of prison for a violation during their recruiting trip to South Korea. That led to Park and the Hanul firm becoming the prime recruiter worldwide for Bollen, except in China [Bob Mercer, "What Could the Rounds Campaign Have Done?" Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.10.10].

Evidently Bollen almost sank South Dakota's EB-5 program on his very first EB-5 recruiting effort in 2004. In his April 29, 2014, testimony in the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration, Park said his law firm's relationship with the South Dakota International Business Institute, which Bollen ran on the NSU campus, began in 2004:

...when SDIBI first came up with EB-5 projects, they were working with a Korean professor in Northern State, and Korean professor told Joop Bollen that "Prime market for this is Korea. So let me set up a seminar in Korea" [James Park, testimony, Darley v. SDIBI JAMS arbitration hearing, Los Angeles, CA, 2014.04.29].

(Yeah, sure, who needs market research when a prof down the hall says, "Hey! Let's go to Korea!"?)

So they set up a seminar and made advertisements in newspaper, which is illegal. So I contacted Mr. Bollen and said, "I'm a U.S. lawyer. I'm an immigration lawyer with a Korean law firm. We are interested in pursuing EB-5 business, and we understand you are having a seminar in Korea. The format you are going by could be problematic. So if you need help, let us help you" [Park, 2014.04.29].

Maybe Bollen should have paid more attention to Park's first contact. Park volunteers this story of what happened when Bollen, prof, and friend touched down in Seoul:

...Joop came to Korea with the professor and his Korean partner from the U.S. for a seminar, and lo and behold, as I warned him, the police came and arrested those two gentlemen for illegal seminar because they charged for the seminar.

So I was at the scene, and we talked to Joop, and our firm got those two gentlemen out of the prison, and that gave us a good relationship with Joop [Park, 2014.04.29].

From that meeting sprang a beautiful relationship, which Park says by 2007 included trips to Cambodia, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Their relationship was so cozy that Park and Bollen felt they could conduct transactions worth millions of dollars without writing anything down. (Remember, Park and Bollen are the honyockers who Californian financier David Kang says had Northern Beef Packers' finances in total disarray in mid-2009.) Park says SDIBI and Hanul never had a formal, written contract.

Park thought this wink-and-nod coziness ought to govern relationship for everyone working with state agency SDIBI. He made the following statements to Darley boss Robert Stratmore in an October 4, 2007, e-mail read into the arbitration record:

As I mentioned in my email, Hanul does not have an exclusive agreement signed between Hanul and SDIBI. This is because SDIBI (South Dakota) SDIBI and Hanul felt that substance over form was important. WE wanted to start the work and secure our place by our performance. Furthermore, State government granting any sort of exclusivity is a major endeavor as you may know. Rather than to spend time on formalizing everything, we've decided to use the time on creating results...[Park to Stratmore, 2007.10.04].

If that swishy language (formailize our multi-million-dollar transaction? Pish posh!) doesn't set off your business and legal alarms, well, hey, I have a beef plant in Aberdeen I'd like to sell you.

Hanul is confident that the working relationship with Hanul and SDIBI is sufficient for Darley to take on the marketing efforts that it intends to. Therefore, our agreement would be one of practicality rather than absolute legal right. That is the best that we can offer at this time. We have had no reason to seek cumbersome, and may be impossible, expressed exclusivity from SD attorneys. I hope you can reason our rationale in this regard [Park to Stratmore, 2007.10.04].

Park and Bollen thought the state's lawyers were so darned cumbersome that they didn't even seek the state's authorization to deal with the Darley litigation. During the arbitration hearing, Darley attorney Maxwell M. Blecher asked Park about a hearing involving Darley and SDIBI in December 2008:

[Blecher] Have you ever been appointed as counsel, legal counsel, for any South Dakota entity?

[Park]: No.

...[Blecher]: ...isn't it true that Hanul Professional Law Corporation... acted as the legal representative for SDIBI during that mediation session?

[Park]: Yes.

[Blecher]: ...Was Hanul Professional Law Corporation—to your knowledge, has Hanul Professional Law Corporation ever been appointed as legal counsel for SDIBI?

[Park]: Let me rephrase my answer to be more clear—

[Blecher]: Okay.

[Park]: —if I may. Hanul was never appointed by SDIBI to be SDIBI counsel.

[Blecher]: Okay.

[Park]: Hanul was asked to assist in certain legal activities to prepare for the mediation.

[Blecher]: Okay.

[Park]: If that is representation, then yes; but if that's not, that's what it is.

[Blecher, keenly attentive to slippery passive voice]: Okay. Who asked for Hanul's assistance?

[Park]: It was a discussion between Mr. Bollen and I about the Darley arbitration that was filed at the mediation and how we are going to respond to it. So there was discussion back and forth, and I think I suggested to Mr. Bollen that you can appear as pro per, meaning as your own self, and I offered to assist him with the preparation of materials for that, if necessary.

[Blecher]: But you never—you never did talk to any representative of the Board of Regents in connection with appearing for SDIBI at that mediation, correct?

[Park]: No, we did not [Darley v. SDIBI, JAMS hearing, 2014.04.29].

Park seems to get his dates mixed up: Bollen submitted his illegal pro per pleading in August 2008, well before the December 2008 hearing to which Blecher refers.

Whenever Park advised Bollen, we can clearly see that Bollen and Park winged South Dakota's EB-5 program on a handshake, then graduated to conspiring to conceal a lawsuit and engage in unauthorized legal representation of the state of South Dakota, which South Dakota Codified Law and the State Bar of California, under which Park practices, agree is naughty.

Yet Bollen kept drawing a state paycheck through 2009 and lived fat on a state contract doing the same job for almost four years after that.

The Bollen–Park relationship that drove South Dakota's EB-5 program in its early years began in a Korean jail. Perhaps the South Dakota EB-5 story will end with a similar cozy image of Bollen and Park themselves in jail.

64 comments

Judge Karen Schreier is taking some time to compose her ruling on South Dakota's same-sex marriage ban.

While we wait for Judge Schreier to overturn the narrow 2006 majority who wrote that discrimination into our state constitution, how about a movie? The SDSU Gay Straight Alliance and the SDSU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community are sponsoring a Brookings showing of The Case Against 8, a documentary about the fight against California's same-sex marriage ban.

After the movie, Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn, the happily married ladies leading the court challenge to South Dakota's ban on their legal relationship, will participate in a discussion of the film and their efforts for equality, along with two Sioux Falls couples participating in the lawsuit.

The Case Against 8 plays Tuesday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Common Good Film series at the Brookings Public Library, Brookings, South Dakota.

3 comments

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Weiland visited the Lakota spiritual camp protesting the Keystone XL pipeline near Ideal on Friday:

Rick Weiland at Keystone XL protest camp, Ideal, South Dakota, 2014.10.17.

Rick Weiland at Keystone XL protest camp, Ideal, South Dakota, 2014.10.17.

Looks like the Indians have a cowboy on their side. Contrary to John Tsitrian's read, opposition to Keystone XL resonates beyond the traditional reservation vote.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is leading opposition to Keystone XL with Oyate Wahacanka Woecun, "Shield the People," which is building alliances to keep the black snake from the north out of South Dakota. This video explains their protest as a mix of spiritualism (I should be nervous) and a practical commitment to protecting the basic necessities of life.

Shield The People - Oyate Wahacanka from Oyate Wahacanka on Vimeo.

For some people, Rick Weiland in on the side of the spirits. But for all of us, Weiland's on the side of good stewardship of the earth that keeps us all alive.

29 comments

The EB-5 scandal is so dangerous to Republicans that the state party is lying to its own voters. An eager reader says the SDGOP is sending out the following letter to registered Republicans:

SDGOP mailer, October 2014

SDGOP mailer, October 2014 (click to embiggen!)

Wow—talk about missing the point! Let's go to the line-by-line (I preserve the SDGOP's underlining and add letters for easier reference):

A. State leaders have vigorously investigated this matter—the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Government Operations and Audit Committee, the Department of Legislative Audit, and two different private accounting firms.

  1. The DCI never interviewed key witness Richard Benda.
  2. GOAC has refused to subpoena key witness Joop Bollen.
  3. GOAC has refused to require Bollen, Mike Rounds, Governor Dennis Daugaard to testify in person under oath where legislators could immediately follow up on responses.
  4. The Department of Legislative Audit did not investigate any of the questionable practices of Bollen and his collaborators in the operation of SDRC Inc., the company he formed to privatize his state job.

B. The only allegations were against Richard Benda—of double dipping on travel reimbursement, and of redirecting a state grant after he had left the state and was working for a private company.

  1. The new revelations that have come out this year about EB-5 have moved well beyond Richard Benda's activities as Governor's Office of Economic Development chief and SDRC Inc. loan monitor.
  2. The primary unanswered allegations are that as Governor, Mike Rounds know about a raft of malfeasance by Joop Bollen and rewarded Bollen with a lucrative no-bid contract.

C. AG Marty Jackley was ready to pursue criminal charges against Benda at the time of his death.

  1. The SDGOP is defaming a dead man.
  2. AG Jackley's release of a draft arrest warrant that was never executed causes pain a family whose pain and desire for privacy AG Jackley has cited as justification for keeping other EB-5-related matters secret.
  3. AG Jackley and Gov. Daugaard both initially denied that Benda had committed any wrongdoing with respect to the $550K Future Fund grant diversion. AG Jackley changed that story in July 2014.

D. The audits of GOED were comprehensive and recommendations for improvement have been adopted.

  1. The GEOD audits did not address the entirety of business practices of SDRC Inc.
  2. The GOED audits did not address Joop Bollen's violation of state conflict-of-interest law.
  3. The GOED audits did not address Joop Bollen's concealment, in violation of state risk management policy, of a lawsuit against the state incurred by his public agency's activities in 2008.
  4. The GOED audits did not address Joop Bollen's illegal and inept representation of the state in a legal pleading in 2008.
  5. The GOED audits did not address Joop Bollen's mismanagement of Northern Beef Packers, which ultimately led to the loss of $167 million dollars of private and state investment in bankruptcy.

E. Democrats are playing politics. They are manufacturing a scandal about EB-5 through innuendo. They have never explained what wrongdoing they suspect.

  1. Rep. Kathy Tyler, attorney Patrick Duffy, this blog, and others have laid out thorough and detailed arguments about lost taxpayer dollars, ethical breaches, and legal violations.

F. Republican leadership been [sic] open and forthright.

  1. Republican leadership on GOAC forthrightly refused to even discuss subpoenaing Joop Bollen.

G. AG Jackley vigorously investigated the matter, at the governor's request. His investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses, including Joop Bollen, and reviewed thousands of documents. As a result of what was found, AG Jackley was prepared to pursue criminal charges against Benda. That didn't happen because of Benda's death.

  1. Again, the SDGOP is shamelessly using a dead man as its fall guy.
  2. The SDGOP is making unsubstantiated claims about "dozens" of witnesses and "thousands" of documents. If the Republican leadership is committed to being "open and forthright," it will list those dozens of witnesses and thousands of documents.
  3. AG Jackley's "vigorous" investigation did not include questioning Richard Benda.
  4. AG Jackley's "vigorous" investigation did not begin until spring 2013, four years after the attorney general's office learned of illegal activity by Joop Bollen.

H. Gov. Daugaard promptly released the AG's investigation report to the public last fall.

  1. Gov. Daugaard did not release this information until after Richard Benda's unusual death provoked a firestorm of public curiosity and scrutiny.

I. Gov. Rounds has been completely open and forthright as well—with the public and with investigators. Rounds has said that, if he had known about Benda's wrongdoing, he would have fired Benda on the spot.

  1. Documents have shown that several of Rounds's "open and forthright" statements are false.
  2. Rounds took four months to respond to questions about EB-5 from reporter Bob Mercer.

J. Gov. Daugaard ordered three separate reviews, of GOED, by two different accounting firms and by the Department of Legislative Audit, the state legislature's independent auditing office. The audits found no further wrongdoing, and the state implemented ideas to improve processes.

The reports of all three reviews were shared with legislators and the public and are available at http://sdreadytowork.com/Financing-and-Incentives--Public-Records.aspx

  1. New evidence of wrongdoing has surfaced since the February 2014 audits.

K. The State Legislature has held two hearings to discuss the reports and the investigation and to ask questions of state officials.

  1. The committee charged by the Legislature to discuss the reports and investigate EB-5 has left EB-5 off its agenda in two meetings.
  2. The hearings that have addressed EB-5 have been used by Republican leadership to stonewall hard questions about EB-5.

L. Everyone involved—Gov. Rounds, Gov. Daugaard, AG Jackley, and other state officials—have answered every question asked, and provided every document that the law allows.

  1. Answering every question does not mean answering every question fully and truthfully.
  2. State officials have not answered questions about the focus of seven of eight federal subpoenas issued relating to South Dakota's EB-5 program.
  3. State officials have not answered questions about why Joop Bollen was not fired for numerous violations of state policy and law.
  4. State officials have not answered questions about the evidence that led to the conclusion that Richard Benda committed suicide.

M. A federal investigation is also ongoing, and everything that has been found by state officials has been shared with federal investigators.

  1. The SDGOP makes another unsubstantiable and uncreditable assertion. We cannot know if state officials have shared "everything" with federal investigators.

N. EB-5 is a federal immigration program—not a state-run program.

  1. The SDGOP repeats its biggest red herring: while Joop Bollen may have violated USCIS regulations on the EB-5 program, he also appears to have violated numerous state policies and laws that fall entirely within the jurisdiction of state officials.
  2. Mike Rounds has said Bollen was a Board of Regents employee, subject to state oversight.
  3. Bollen testified in Darley v. SDIBI that he answered to the Regents and the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

O. The state's ability to investigate a federal program is very limited—whether it is the Attorney General or a legislative committee. That is why the AG provided everything he found to federal investigators.

EB-5 is a federal program that allows private companies to raise private investment for economic development projects, under federal guidelines.

  1. Medicaid is a federal program, yet the Attorney General's office regularly investigates and prosecutes Medicaid fraud.

P. Like nearly every other state, SD had designated a private company to operate EB-5 in the state—SDRC, Inc. Gov. Daugaard terminated the state contract with SDRC in Fall 2013.

  1. The state operated EB-5 through a state agency, the South Dakota International Business Institute, from 2004 through 2009.
  2. The state obtained and has continuously retained the official USCIS EB-5 "regional center" designation since 2004.
  3. South Dakota's contract with private SDRC Inc. in December 2009 was a no-bid sweetheart deal rewarding malfeasant state employee Joop Bollen, who quit his state job the day before he signed the SDRC Inc. contract.

Q. Today, the state does not actively promote EB-5. The state receives and files reports about existing EB-5 projects, and provides information about the program to those who enquire.

There are numerous successful projects in SD that were funded through EB-5, including Dakota Turkey Growers in Huron, the Deadwood Mountain Grand, and development of wind power.

  1. More red herrings: these facts have nothing to do with wrongdoing by Richard Benda, Joop Bollen, Mike Rounds, or anyone else involved with running the state's EB-5 program

R. South Dakota did not lose millions of dollars of taxpayer money on Northern Beef Packers (NBP).

The total state contribution to the $150 million project was $4.3 million. That entire amount has already been recovered through taxes paid by NBP.

  1. The actual amount of public and private money poured into Northern Beef Packers was $167 million.
  2. $4.3 million does not include the bank franchise taxes lost in the tax break for NBP offshore funder Epoch Star.
  3. $4.3 million does not include the $2.4 million in bank franchise taxes evaded by SDRC Inc.
  4. $4.3 million does not include the uncounted local and county revenues lost when NBP went bankrupt due to state employee/contractor Bollen's mismanagement and put hundreds of Aberdonians out of work.

S. Although the owners of NBP went bankrupt, the plant still exists, and new owners, New Angus, intend to reopen and operate the plant within a year. That means the goal of a beef plant in Aberdeen will be achieved.

  1. Aberdeen heard claims that NBP would open within a year throughout its five-year construction period.
  2. Claims of future solvency bear no weight on present failure.
  3. Claims of future solvency under new management bear no weight on the failure of Bollen, Benda, and Rounds to make NBP work now.

If Republican voters are looking for an excuse to ignore EB-5, this letter from the SDGOP may provide the palliative they need. I mean, hey, it's on paper, so it must be true, right?

But if I were a Democratic leader, I'd feel awful about having to blow smoke like this at my own people to keep them marking the right bubbles on their ballots.

Forward this list of responses to your Republican friends, and encourage them to ask their party leaders for the full and accurate story about EB-5.

44 comments

Mike Rounds desperately needs you to believe that his office had little to do with the EB-5 program that has endangered his gubernatorial legacy and his Senatorial aspirations. "...[T]he program and the personnel were responsible to the South Dakota Board of Regents," Rounds avers. "...[A]s governor, I was not involved in the day-to-day activities of the BOR program."

But according to EB-5 czar Joop Bollen, the leads for big EB-5 transactions came from the Rounds Administration:

[Regents attorney Chaka Okadigbo]: Okay. In terms of -- for people that don't know how the EB-5 program works, if -- I assume the regional center was involved in selecting projects for foreign investors to review and decide whether to invest in it, is that correct?

[Bollen] I wouldn't say that. I would say that initially we will receive a lead that would come from the governor's office or the department of agricultural that there is a project that the state has an interest in. I would then forward the contact to the entity that we had a working relationship with, and they then would obtain the information directly from the project typically and they would then do the due diligence of the project and decide if their investors want to get involved in that project or not [Joop Bollen, deposition 1, Darley v. SDIBI, 2014.04.16].

Rounds has tried to portray his "direct interaction" with Bollen as "limited" to updates on efforts by Bollen's South Dakota International Business Institute "by way of staff reports." Yet Bollen's testimony shows two-way interaction, with the Rounds Administration providing the leads like Northern Beef Packers necessary to sustain SDIBI's efforts.

26 comments

I apologize: yesterday I said I'd get to some analysis of the Rep. Kristi Noem–Corinna Robinson debate Thursday night on SDPB. Alas, news happens.

The ever level-headed Ken Santema took time out from his vigorous campaign for State Treasurer to blog the debate. He summarizes the thematic highlights, then comes to the remarkable conclusion that neither Noem nor Robinson deserves his vote:

...from a liberty-minded point of view this was not a good debate. There was no true advocate for civil liberties or truly reducing the power of the federal government as a whole. For that reason I will likely stick with my gut feeling from a couple of months ago and leave both circles blank on this part of the ballot. I don’t feel either candidate will stand for civil liberties and economic freedom. South Dakota may not allow write-ins on ballots, but it sure allows for people to skip voting for certain races or ballot questions. This would be a good one to refrain from voting [Ken Santema, "Noem and Robinson SDPB Debate Solidifies Who I Will Vote for in the US House Race," SoDakLiberty, 2014.10.17].

Santema's notes support my main observation from the debate: Rep. Kristi Noem continues to effectively recite the talking points her bosses hand her, while Corinna Robinson continues to recite the talking points she's cobbled together while failing to turn them into focused, effective attacks on the incumbent.

Here are the things Robinson needs to do to win the last big debate on KELO on Friday, October 24:

  1. Use every minute. Moderator Stephanie Rissler regularly offered rebuttal time, and Robinson regularly waved that time off. Even when Noem took the rebuttal time, Robinson sometimes passed. Aaacck! When you're on TV, and someone offers you a chance to talk on TV, you talk!
  2. Prep. Prep prep prep. The savings question at 40:00 caught you unprepared, as demonstrated by the stalling fluster-fluff that preceded your eventual tie-in to policy. You should be sitting down with advisors for days before each debate practicing every imaginable question, even dumb questions, even vague questions. You cannot do this in your own head. You have to have your campaign staff briefing you, drilling you, telling you to do it again.
  3. Attack specifics. The Farm Bill question offered a perfect opportunity to hammer Rep. Noem on policy failures. Noem's inability to move policy left us without a Farm Bill for 15 months. The Farm Bill contained all sorts of groaners: cuts to food stamps, boosts to crop insurance (the cash cow that keeps Kristi's hubby Bryon in paychecks), continued handouts to wealthy corporations, reductions in conservation... and in the face of all that, you open your response by agreeing with Rep. Noem that the Farm Bill is "adequate"?
  4. Attack smart. You did try to attack Rep. Noem on an obvious weakness: her family's three-million-dollar reliance on farm subsidies. A Republican on welfare cutting benefits for less fortunate—this should be an easy, potent attack. But you botched the attack by sloppily asserting that Rep. Noem received $500,000 "just this year alone." That claim is unsupportable because farm subsidy numbers for this year haven't been published yet. That claim also opens the door for Rep. Noem to make you look deceitful and dumb:

    The only way that you can participate in farm programs is if you are actively engaged in agriculture, which I'm currently not [Rep. Kristi Noem, debate on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Vermillion, SD, 2014.10.16].

    If you were reading the briefs, you'd know that, and you'd practice phrasing your attack to avoid giving Noem that easy, fact-based dodge.

Beating Rep. Noem in a debate should be easy. Get past the pretty, and she still has no punch. Put her on the run, and she still can't marshal the intellectual moxie to reach past her script and grapple with hard facts.

But she's had four years of practice, and lots of well-paid staff to help her practice. Winging it and waving off rebuttals won't beat the Noem machine. Relentless briefing, practice, and smart attacks will.

Now, back to the depositions....

15 comments

The Tea Party Express shed credibility this week by throwing a life preserver to failing and only faintly Tea-flavored Republican candidate Mike Rounds. Reasonable Republican John Tsitrian finds that endorsement laughable and incompatible with good government for South Dakota. Arch-conservative Bob Ellis finds it horrible... or should I say whore-able?

...the Tea Party Express, a national Tea Party group, has decided to whore itself out, selling its values and virtue in a quest for a seat at the table of power [Bob Ellis, "Tea Party Express Whores Itself to RINO Establishment," American Clarion, 2014.10.15].

Ellis is incensed (Ellis is always incensed, but this time he's right) that anyone could mistake Mike Rounds for Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or Sarah Palin or whoever represents this amorphous group of do-nothing, tax-nobody anarcho-conservatives:

The guy who kicked the can of a $127 million structural deficit down the road for his successor Dennis Daugaard and the legislature to deal with…is “not something Mike Rounds is going to do”?  Give me a break!

The guy who lacked the guts to sign South Dakota’s first attempt to ban abortion in 2004–and instead vetoed it–is “going to confront the problems”?  Spare me!

The guy who grew the size of state government, who supports government health care schemes, amnesty, Marxist minimum wage increases and a host of other liberal ideas can be relied on for “getting America back on track”? Please!

According to Mike Rounds record–not his lying rhetoric, but his record–he isn’t even a good Republican, much less a good Tea Party candidate [Ellis, 2014.10.15].

Gordon Howie is the only true Tea Partier in the Senate race and the only one besides Lora Hubbel on South Dakota's statewide ballot. Government by Howie, Hubbel, and Ellis evokes terrifying visions of theocratic tyranny. But if you drink that Tea, that's what you dig, and you cannot in good conscience dig Mike Rounds.

Endorsing Mike Rounds is capitulation. If you really believe the Republican Party is filled with pragmatists, opportunists, and fakers who trade principles for raw power, you don't vote for Mike Rounds just to preserve a Republican majority in the Senate. You vote en masse for Howie. You either win the Senate seat or, if you can't quite beat Weiland or Pressler, you knock the legs out from under the RINO establishment, prove that fakers like Rounds are no longer viable, and set the stage for full-tilt Tea-volution in 2016, when you run Howie for Thune's Senate seat, Bill Napoli for House, and Stacey Victor Nelson for President.

28 comments

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