An eager reader goes hunting for information about Mike Rounds's now notorious EB-5 visa investment program and finds a press release on a Chinese forum, issued exactly four years ago today:

世贸通:美国南州电厂项目四大优势强力保证
2010年10月13日 07:14美通社【大 中 小】 【打印】 共有评论0条
北京2010年10月13日电 /美通社亚洲/ -- 继顺利发布美国投资移民“爱达荷州金矿项目”后,为庆祝世贸通荣获南达科他州区域中心中国首席代理资格,并在中国首发美国南州电厂项目,世贸通隆重推出优惠月活动,并将召开“世贸通南州电厂项目中国首发会”,敬请莅临!世贸通南州电厂项目中国首发会预定电话:010-5979 9665400-700-3979

时间地点:

北京:2010年10月16日 下午2点半 国贸饭店一层B厅(国贸桥西北角),

深圳:2010年10月17日 下午2点半 圣廷苑酒店二楼多功能3厅(华强北路)。

演讲嘉宾:

Joop Bollen,南达科他州区域中心主席。

Maurice Berez,前美国移民局EB-5办公室主任、南达科他州区域中心首席顾问。

JaMEs Park,美国专业移民律师、南达科他州指定首席律师事务所。

Joe Jin,南达科他州区域中心亚太总裁。

项目简介:建设位于美国南达科他州布法罗岭的风力发电厂项目。

享受福利:全家绿卡,父母享美国福利,子女就读世界名校。

美国南达科他州电厂项目

美国南州西班牙电厂项目用以建设和经营位于美国南达科他州的布法罗岭风力发电项目,以满足美国对可再生能源不断增长的需求。2009年,奥巴马总统在爱荷华州牛顿市演讲时表示,至2030年,风力发电将占美国电力产量的20%,这对于环境和经济,都有巨大好处。美国政府将采取激励措施,3年内使美国的可再生能源产量翻一番。在此背景下,为了满足其成员负载增长的需求,并且满足国家可再生能源投资组合标准(RPS)的要求,必须增加可再生能源的发电产能。

项目四大优势强力保证

优势一:政府优势

南达科他州区域中心是属于政府机构,而非私人机构,隶属于南达科他州政府,由州经济发展部直接管理。依托政府优势,保障项目的正常运行。

优势二:就业优势

布法罗岭电力项目采用第三代就业方式,无需考虑直接就业人数,美国移民局批准南达科他州区域中心采用RIMS-Ⅱ就业计算模式,依据投资额来计算EB-5就业人数,每100万美元投资额可创造5.4309个间接就业机会,则该项目可创造2199个就业机会,但该项仅招募200人,2年后条件有保障。

优势三:投资优势

该项目直接贷款给具有107年历史,世界最大的再生能源的跨国集团,该集团是拥有1100亿美元资产的伦敦上市公司,这是美国EB-5法案立法以来,最具还款实力的项目,保障投资款五年后全返。

优势四:审批优势

南达科他州电厂项目是一个成熟的项目,审批速度快。2009年世贸通与南达科他州区域中心联合推出的北新电厂项目招募的219个申请人,全部审批通过,该洲超过600个以上成功的I-526(投资移民)申请,没有一个被驳回,成功率高达100%。负责布法罗岭电力项目的南州区域中心首席顾问Maurice是美国移民局EB-5办公室前主任,该项目将由Maurice亲自为客户审批申请资料,确保申请100%通过。

美移民史上还款能力最强的项目

由评级为 A 级的母公司,即西班牙伊维尔德罗拉集团出具的本票作为五年还款担保。担保形式为企业本票。西班牙伊维尔德罗拉集团的总资产达到1100亿美元,是伦敦证券交易所上市公司,交易代码为 ORD-SHS。伊维尔德罗拉集团的经营状况良好,国际三大信贷评级机构都给予了极高的信用评级,证明了该公司良好的经营状况和还款能力。

Don't get excited: "ORD-SHS" was the Iberdrola Group's symbol on the London Stock Exchange.

According to Google Translate and a reader-vouched Chinese speaker, the press release comes from a Chinese company calling itself World Trade Tong (tong here means expert). WTT announces two conferences being held by South Dakota Regional Center representatives Joop Bollen, Maurice Berez, and James Park to seek investors for Iberdrola's Buffalo Ridge II wind farm. Iberdrola completed that project in December 2010, but the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service put the kabosh on EB-5 investment in the project because the $100 million Bollen and friends raised would only have paid off money Iberdrola had already spent, thus not directly creating any jobs.

The paragraph I find interesting is the first of four "advantage" paragraphs, bolded above. Here's the sloppy Google Translate version:

One advantage: Government advantages

South Dakota Regional Center is a government agency, rather than the private sector, under the South Dakota state government, directly managed by the Ministry of Economic Development states. Relying on the advantages of the government to ensure the normal operation of the project.

And here's a human translation:

Advantage Number 1: Government

SDRC is a government agency, not a private business. It is part of the South Dakota State Government, under the Department of Business Development. The advantage of this is that the program’s operation is “protected” (under a government authority).

Hmm... both machine and human say that the press release mischaracterized the nature of South Dakota's EB-5 program in 2010. The South Dakota Regional Center was technically assigned to the South Dakota International Business Institute, an entity running at that time under the Board of Regents without an executive director. However, from January 2008 to December 2009, the program's director, Joop Bollen, privatized his EB-5 operations into his own corporation, SDRC Inc. By 2010, the program was operating fully as a private business, under contract with the Department of Tourism and State Development.

This all gets confusing, since SDRC and SDRC Inc. are indeed two very different entities. But one can understand how Chinese investors could have been confused by the claim that SDRC was a state agency even though the wheeler-dealers making the pitch in October 2010 were private profiteers.

15 comments

As if we haven't had enough fun today, I finally get a copy of the written threat the South Dakota Republican Party issued to local media: stop running an anti-Mike Rounds ad, or we'll sue!

William Taylor, attorney, on behalf of South Dakota Republican Party, letter to South Dakota television stations, 2014.10.08.

William Taylor, attorney, on behalf of South Dakota Republican Party, letter to South Dakota television stations, 2014.10.08. (Click to embiggen!)

We have been contacted by the South Dakota Republican Party about the recent advertisement that your station is running for Every Voice Action. The ad is dated October 2, 2014, and is ironically entitled "Responsibility." In the ad, the narrator states that "Mike Rounds gave his friend a no-bid contract to auction off EB-5 green cards to the highest bidder." This statement is false. The EB-5 program was never an auction, as Argus Leader reporter David Montgomery, who knows something about EB-5, had written. On October 2, he wrote that the reference to an "auction" was "simply not true" and a "core inaccuracy."

Montgomery is right. The ad is false and therefore defamatory. It is made with actual malice, meaning with knowledge that it is false or with a reckless disregard as to whether it is false. Given no evidence that Mike Rounds sold green cards to "the highest bidder," the ad's statement that Rounds was a party to a contract resulting in an auction is false.

This letter constitutes notice that your station is engaged in broadcasting a defamatory statement made with actual malice. If your station does not stop broadcasting the ad within 24 hours of receipt of this letter, we will take legal action to stop the ad, and to hold your station responsible for its broadcast [William Taylor, Woods Fuller Shultz & Smith PC, on behalf of South Dakota Republican Party, letter to South Dakota television stations, 2014.10.08].

Look at the laughably narrow grounds on which the SDGOP argues defamation. Look at the text of EVA's ad, line by line, and think about which ones strike you as the hardest swings at Mike Rounds:

  1. It's the Mike Rounds citizenship-for-sale scheme
  2. and it's getting worse.
  3. Now the Republican Legislature is investigating.
  4. Mike Rounds says [enter mocking high-pitched voice] "EB-5 doesn't sell citizenship."
  5. But Mike Rounds gave his friend
  6. a no-bid contract
  7. to auction off EB-5 green cards to the highest bidder.
  8. That is selling citizenship
  9. and Mike Rounds knows it.
  10. His cronies profit.
  11. Taxpayers have millions in liability.
  12. And Mike Rounds still refuses to take responsibility.

#5 implies Mike Rounds and EB-5 czar Joop Bollen are friends. #6 refers to a bad fiscal practice. #10 and #11 suggest full-tilt malfeasance. #12 is a direct insult. Heck, #4 even makes fun of Rounds's voice. A good lawyer ought to be able to shoot a half dozen defamation ducks in this barrel!

But the SDGOP's legal eagles ignore those targets and focus on auction, the technically inaccurate but least provocative term in the ad aside from the prepositions. The SDGOP filed no defamation suit against Rick Weiland when he ran his "Auction" ad last month. You could even argue that the error makes the EB-5 program sound more honest than it really is.

The Republicans have tried to dismiss Democratic lawyer Patrick Duffy's charge that Rounds committed felony production of false evidence as a "new low", but hey, Duffy at least has Rounds's exact words and specific statute to back him up. Either Craig Lawrence is as bad at hiring lawyers as Rounds is at hiring campaign staff, or the Republicans really don't have any response to the substantive charges of corruption in Mike Rounds's EB-5 program.

The SDGOP threat is moot, of course, because Every Voice Action has released a new ad that hits Rounds even harder... and it doesn't say the word "auction."

Mike and the SDGOP just have to get used to the facts. Rounds oversaw a corrupt program. Rounds is offering a story that keeps sprouting holes. And South Dakotans aren't buying his story.

48 comments

Yesterday SDGOP chairman Craig Lawrence accused Every Voice Action of "defamation" and called them "cowards." I don't think Lawrence understands the definition of either word.

Lawrence asserted at a "thunderous" press conference (yeah, and my daughter and I use thunder as a another word for farting) that the PAC's ads against Mike Rounds are defamatory and threatened to sue any TV station that ran them. What Lawrence and Rounds call defamation is really just criticism backed with evidence that Rounds can't answer. Give Mike Rounds anything less than the kingly deference to which he thinks he's entitled, and he'll sue you.

Lawrence then calls Every Voice Action (and, I assume by extension, all of us who criticize Mike Rounds) "cowards" for "defaming Mike Rounds without a shred of evidence linking him to wrongdoing.”

While I will continue to untremblingly post all the evidence, including Mike Rounds's own words, that shows Mike Rounds let corruption run unchecked in his EB-5 program, I challenge Lawrence's insult to Every Voice Action. They are not cowards. They have actually shown the courage to end the run of their latest ad, not because they are afraid of Lawrence's paper threat, but because they are committed to telling the truth. Their latest ad had said South Dakota taxpayers faced millions in legal liability for the corruption in Mike Rounds's EB-5 program. The Darley v. SDIBI ruling this week decided that South Dakota will escape such liability in one limited legal action arising from Mike Rounds's EB-5 program. While the threat remains that other parties may sue South Dakota over Mike Rounds's EB-5 program, Every Voice Action choosing to pull that particular ad. They are admitting that one of the arguments they made against Mike Rounds holds less water now than it did when they launched the ad. I tell debaters that ceding an argument takes guts. Every Voice Action is showing guts and honesty, not cowardice.

But they'll be back, with friends. Lawrence can shout "Defamation!" and "Cowards!" all he wants, but Mike Rounds sounds much more like the frightened man making things up.

66 comments

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland launched an ad last week attacking his GOP opponent Mike Rounds for selling U.S. residency to fund his Northern Beef Packers boondoggle and other economic development projects in South Dakota. Weiland's ad provoked much screeching and wailing from Team Rounds. That's a lie! shouts a video from the Rounds campaign. Mike never sold citizenship!

That's true. Rick Weiland and I and other observers occasionally err in our choice of words. The EB-5 visa investment program allows wealthy foreigners to buy their way to front of the immigration queue for $500,000. It does not buy them citizenship. It buys them green cardspermanent residence, which if maintained for five years allows an immigrant to become a U.S. citizen.

Weiland accurately used the term "U.S. residency cards" in his ad. The voiceover then said, "Rick Weiland believes citizenship shouldn't be for sale...." We can spend all weekend debating whether that statement is a lie, an error, or an oversimpification, rectified by saying, "The opportunity for citizenship through permanent residency shouldn't be for sale."

But when Mike Rounds himself finally comes out from under his rock and hyperventilates over that legal/semantic distinction, he will still have to admit to the core of Weiland's critique: selling the privilege of immigration to America was a central part of Mike Rounds's economic development efforts.

Mike Rounds's own EB-5 investment manager, Joop Bollen, said so under oath in 2008:

  1. In 2001, SDIBI initiated recruitment of European dairy farmers to South Dakota to construct and manage large state-of-the-art dairy farms in the eastern portion of the state. SDIBI was successful in recruiting 15 such projects whose owners all legally entered the United States of America to settle in South Dakota on E-2 non-immigrant visas.
  2. The Regional Center Program is an investment visa program designated as EB-5 which grants legal permanent residency to foreign nationals who create 10 direct or indirect full-time jobs by investing at least $500,000.00 in an area with a low population or a high unemployment rate. Such areas are designated as "regional centers."
  3. In 2003 SDIBI applied for regional center status, which was approved by United States Citizens [sic] and Immigration services (USCIS) in April of 2004.
  4. SDIBI obtained regional center status in order to provide more security to the European investors that had settled in South Dakota and to provide South Dakota with a competitive advantage over other states which were also recruiting European dairy investors, but were not able to offer permanent residency as they did not have regional center status [emphasis mine; Joop Bollen, Declaration, Darley International vs. South Dakota International Business Institute, Case No. CV08-05034 DDP PLAx, 2008.08.22].

Weiland and other critics of South Dakota's exploitation of the visa investment program should avoid saying "buy citizenship." They should instead use Rounds's man Bollen's own terms: South Dakota sold "permanent residency" to gain a "competitive advantage." Under Mike Rounds, South Dakota treated entry into the United States as a mere commodity, for sale to bidders more interested in buying green cards than in scrutinizing the hyperbolic business plan Rounds's pals floated for Northern Beef Packers.

38 comments

Zut alors! The South Dakota Legislature's Rules Review Committee has found a way to make English the official and exclusive language in a few dusky corners of our state: the Deadwood card tables. In its continuing response to allegations of high-stakes collusion among poker players, the state Gaming Commission got the Rules Review Committee to say that speaking anything other than English at Deadwood's poker tables is verboten.

I can't wait until some femme fatale enjoying a taco and champagne sneezes and the unlucky yutz next to her instinctively says, "Gesundheit!"

The mischief-maker in me wants to believe there's a court challenge coming: discrimination against Native Americans speaking Lakota, an Americans with Disabilities Act violation excluding folks who speak sign language, something. But the Gaming Commission's lawyer says the linguistic exclusion is kosher:

“The reason we can is because gaming is a suspect activity,” said Mike Shaw, the commission’s attorney. “It is not subject to the same protection that other activities are.”

Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, said it would be unfair, for example, if two players spoke Lakota at the table and the other players didn’t.

“Same with any language; you could manipulate the game,” Bradford said.

After the meeting Eliason said the “English only” rule is not an attempt to create an official language.

“Its purpose is to prevent collusion among poker players,” he said. “It is the same reason that we prohibited texting and other forms of communication that other players can’t understand or hear or see” [Bob Mercer, "New Deadwood Card Game Rules: No Phones, and English Only," Rapid City Journal, 2014.07.09].

Mercer reports that Nevada and New Jersey have English-only rules like this. Most (but not all) online poker outfits have similar rules. Rules requiring that card players interact in a single common language and medium thus appear to be normal and court-challenge-proof. So all you linguists hoping to impress the ladies will have to save your French for the bar. Quel dommage! Un autre chocolat, mon petit chou?

(Oh yeah, and the new gaming rules ban using cell phones during the game, meaning Pat Powers will squeak again about texting freedom.)

Tangentially Related: Kevin Woster swings the baguette and dishes some French in his essay on Chad Haber.

9 comments

Bosworth grafitti presser not evil 20140527Legal team, clean-up on Aisle 1....

Let's begin with the pretense that I'm not evil.

—Annette Bosworth, press conference, Sioux Falls, SD, 2014.05.27, timestamp 07:15.

On June 4, Attorney General Marty Jackley will feel free to indict fifth-place primary finisher Annette Bosworth on perjury and any other crimes that have come to his attention. In Bosworth's attempt to exploit the press furor over the Isla Vista shootings, the fake U.S. Senate candidate signaled the two prongs of her legal defense.

Bosworth grafitti presser brooding 20140527

...because campaign signs are much more effective spray-painted and tacked up in a dark office than placed out on the highway.

First, Bosworth apparently plans to say that Attorney General Jackley and reporter David Montgomery (yes, she attacks him from the mic, around 14:15) and anyone else who questions her are all misogynists. Bosworth has apparently been paying attention to Kathy Scott, the former Corinna Robinson campaign volunteer who blames me and my misogyny for her sloppy work.

For the record, the majority of sources who have helped me tell the story of the crime and corruption of Annette Bosworth and her husband Chad Haber are women. The two people taking Bosworth to court right now for unpaid wages are women. The person who told the press that Bosworth forced her family onto food stamps by not paying wages is a woman. In the Channette world where everything is a scam and everyone is out to get someone, it is more likely that AG Jackley and I are simply the weak-willed dupes of some persuasive Amazons out to destroy a fellow warrior princess.

Bosworth grafitti presser clueless 20140527

Don't be fooled by this paper. I'm making this up as I go along.

But this isn't the Channette world. Annette Bosworth is simply full of cowcrap. (I wouldn't want to say bullcrap, because that's probably patriarchal.)

The second legal defense gets more specific. Recall that the charges Bosworth and Haber will face most likely include perjury for signing a false oath. Bosworth and Haber submitted nominating petition sheets with their names at the bottom as circulators. Some of those sheets included signatures dated when Bosworth and Haber were in the Philippines.

Amidst great dancing to avoid answering direct questions from multiple reporters, Bosworth said sure, she was in the Philippines when the voters in question, including her sister, signed her petition back here in South Dakota. She says sure, she signed the circulator's oath "at the end of the campaign." She says her signature on the circulator's oath certified that she recognized her sister's signature. She says... well, see what she says in this exchange with reporter David Montgomery:

Bosworth: Did I know the people that signed the petition? Yes. Are they South Dakotans? Yes. Do they support me? Yes.

Montgomery: But you didn't directly circulate that petition?

Bosworth: Let's take the one of my sister, which sat there in my office. And she signed it. And I affirmed, thank you for signing my petition, that it was dated the night before they were due, that I signed that [Annette Bosworth press conference, Sioux Falls, SD, 2014.05.27, timestamp 10:27].

Bosworth grafitti presser mug 20140527

Nothing says "I'm your next Senator!" like standing in front naughty words with your hands full of mics and a mug.

Actually, as I review the petition sheets in question, I find that Annette signed one of them the night before they were due, March 24, but the circulator's oaths on the other sheets in question were signed on January 20, February 11, and March 25. In other words, Annette can't even keep her cowcrap straight, let alone the truth.

But more to the point is that, just as Annette isn't answering the reporters' questions, she answering the question of law. What does a circulator's oath affirm?

I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, and that either the signer or I added the printed name, the residence address of the signer, the date of signing, and the county of voter registration [emphasis mine; SDAR 05:02:08:00.03].

South Dakota law does not ask petition circulators to affirm that they know the signers. It does not ask them to affirm that the signers support them. It does not ask them to thank signers. South Dakota law requires that circulators walk around with those petitions in their hands and eyeball every single signer as he or she signs it.

The filthy words in front of which Bosworth posed today have nothing to do with the wording of the law. The law is clear. Bosworth and Haber broke the law. No manipulation of language or martyrish shouting of misogyny! will change that fact or stop the court from declaring them guilty... assuming AG Jackley gets around to bringing them to court.

*   *   *

Watch the full presser below, if you can bear it. The best part is the first 90 seconds, where we can't hear anything Bosworth is saying.

136 comments

Republican John Tsitrian and I have both said Mike Rounds's claim that the Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare benefits is bogus. No seniors are losing benefits, and the Paul Ryan budget makes the same cuts.

Now regular journalist David Montgomery weighs in, saying Rounds is mostly wrong:

It’s true that the Affordable Care Act will spend about $718 billion less on Medicare during the next decade than would have happened without the law — around a 10 percent reduction. The overall budget for Medicare still is expected to go up over this time — just less quickly than it otherwise would have.

...It’s also true that while the money will be removed from future Medicare budgets, it won’t be withdrawn from the Medicare trust fund, as the ad’s use of the word “taken” could imply [David Montgomery, "A Closer Look at Medicare Claims in U.S. Senate Ads," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.05.14].

The ACA was passed in 2009. It started imposing savings on Medicare Advantage in 2010. The "cuts" (read Montgomery again: funding still increasing, just not as fast as it would have sans ACA) Mike Rounds talks about are already happening. What bad things have happened to seniors? None, says Politifact:

So far, Obamacare hasn’t harmed Medicare Advantage. Coverage has stayed largely the same, premiums have been flat and enrollment has gone up since the legislation became law [Joshua Gillin, "Political Attacks in Governor's Race Make Medicare Claims Confusing," Politifact.com, 2014.04.09].

Post-ACA, Medicare Advantage is covering more people, not fewer. Politifact, which Montgomery cites in his report, deems Rounds-like Medicare claims made in other races around the country Mostly False. But straining to be fair and to avoid any 2004-like accusations that the paper is in the tank for Democrats, Montgomery says that Rounds can get by with his claim by resorting, as is his wont (q.v.: EB-5, structural deficit) , to semantics:

Rounds’ ad, though, is phrased carefully. It says the $700 billion cut “can” end up limiting health care for seniors — not that it definitely will. On Tuesday, Rounds said he thinks that’s a “very likely” outcome but isn’t necessarily certain.

This keeps the ad’s claim factually correct, though the ad omits important context about the cuts. Some similar claims about the Medicare cuts that fact-checkers have ruled untrue have used stronger language saying seniors will suffer, not that they might [Montgomery, 2014.05.14].

Rounds gets a pass because he does the can-can. Great. I can say that Rounds is threatening senior citizens by not dedicating more money to asteroid defense, because an asteroid impact can end up limiting health care for seniors, but I don't see anyone leaping to take away health insurance from up to 27.7 million people just because of that can.

Republicans, do truth a favor, and kick Mike Rounds's can to the curb.

85 comments

Illegitimate U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth calls me vulgar? She's having a bad case of pottymouth this week. Look what she posts on her Facebook page to attract supporters:

FB Fake donor name 20140501

I don't think I saw that name on her invalid petition. Maybe I should double-check.

I'm embarrassed to post Bosworth's vulgarity, but hey, she's the one who says such things matter, and she's the one who says she wants to be a Senator.

In further vulgarity, Bosworth continues to flip the bird at decent, hard-working fellow citizens who happen to use food stamps, saying they are all weak-willed losers. And she's now saying it's perfectly fine to start conversations with crude statements denigrating veterans, retirees, and children.

Carry on, Base Connect. I'm sure that message will play with at least a few people on your mailing list.

49 comments

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