Democratic Representative Kathy Tyler thinks the controversy surrounding the Governor's Office of Economic Development's use of the EB-5 green-card-buying program warrants Legislative scrutiny. Republican Senator Ryan Maher does not. He used his power this week to keep discussion of the EB-5 program off the agenda:
Executive Board chairman Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, said the board already had a full agenda for its Monday and Tuesday sessions. He said legislators would not be able to get any answers while the EB-5 remains the subject of a state investigation by U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.
"You've got a Democrat with the feds and you've got a Republican with the state, so they're hammering all that out," Maher said. "All we're going to do is jump in the middle of it all, and what are we going to accomplish? Probably not much."
Maher said the issue could be considered by a legislative committee in December [Dirk Lammers, "Legislator Wants Audit of EB-5 Program in SD," AP via Businessweek, 2013.11.20].
Governor Dennis Daugaard is also declining to dig deeper, claiming it doesn't have the authority to audit the records of SDRC Inc., the private company to whom former Governor M. Michael Rounds surrendered state authority over the EB-5 program.
Blogger John Tsitrian deems Daugaard's demurral deplorable:
When asked to initiate such an audit during the past few days, a spokesman for Governor Dennis Daugarrd's offce was reported by [AP's Dirk Lammers] as saying that the contract between our state and SDRC "did not give the Governor's Office of Economic Development the authority to audit all of SDRC records." I'm sorry (and believe me, I consider myself a friend and supporter of Governor Daugaard) but this does . . . not . . . wash. Granted, SDRC's records involving affairs that have nothing to do with South Dakota are rightfully off-limits to SD auditors--but what about dealings involving public time and money that are directly done with our state? Speaking as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of this great State of South Dakota, I think I'm well within my rights to demand an audit of every single transaction that took place between my state and SDRC [John Tsitrian, "South Dakota Needs to Look at This EB-5 Thing," The Constant Commoner, 2013.11.21].
Tsitrian nicely strips away any partisan bull. The GOED/EB-5 scandal isn't about scoring political points. It's about honesty and accountability in the use of public dollars for economic development. There is no reason that the Legislature, the Governor, and the press (including the blogosphere) should not subject the very questionable EB-5 program to vigorous public scrutiny. Rep. Tyler, keep trying! Senator Maher, write "EB-5" at the top of December's agenda.30 comments