On Monday, the South Dakota Democratic Party launched a local ad campaign encouraging citizens to call Senator Larry Tidemann and urge him to subpoena Governor Dennis Daugaard, former Governor Mike Rounds, and other state officials who could explain just what happened in the GOED/Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal. Remarkably, the discussion on this blog turned to the propriety of publishing Senator Tidemann's phone number (a number which is published on Senator Tidemann's official Legislative webpage, as are phone numbers for every other South Dakota legislator).

One eager reader took up the ad's challenge and called Senator Tidemann. The reader got voicemail and left a message. Senator Tidemann called the reader back. Here's the reader's account of their very civil conversation:

When he called me back he was very nice and tried to be helpful explaining what he was doing and what they hoped to accomplish.... We talked about [Richard] Benda, Joop [Bollen], records missing and he basically held to the party stance on this whole thing. He said it was a federal program and I agreed but I pointed out my concern was how it was administered here in SD. It was almost as if there were things with standard responses he made that are used to throw me off and diminish this but I held on and was pointed yet very tactful and respectful.

He said the reason he did not want Joop to be present was that it would have been a circus atmosphere and that the written responses were the same as a subpoena. He mentioned the U.S. Department of Justice ongoing investigation and covered the basis of they are legislators and some of this is better left to police, FBI and DCI agents [blog reader, e-mail, 2014.09.17].

Senator Tidemann's willingness to call a questioner back and discuss serious issues seems to deflate the critique of the propriety of encouraging citizens to call legislators. Senator Tidemann gets extra points for affirming that a federal investigation continues and acknowledging that there appears to be criminal activity in this scandal that warrants investigation.

But Senator Tidemann loses points for talking points. Bob Mercer has rejected the "EB-5 is federal " dodge; so should everyone else.

Senator Tidemann loses more points for his circus-phobia. Is Senator Tidemann saying he is incapable of maintaining order at any committee meeting where a prominent or controversial figure may testify? When is the last time any Legislative committee meeting turned into a circus? How circusy can things get in Pierre? Is Tidemann afraid Bob Mercer will bring peanuts and thundersticks?

The worst that happens if Joop Bollen appears in person in front of the Government Operations and Audit Committee on September 24 is that two bloggers, five reporters, and ten lawyers come to the meeting. Chairman Tidemann raps the desk, points his gavel, and says menacingly, "No circus, or you're out!" And then everyone sits in rapt silence, punctuated only by the raindrop tap of laptop keys, as Senator Larry Lucas and Rep. Susan Wismer grill Joop Bollen.

Senator Tidemann is serving the public trust by talking with voters directly on the phone. Now let's serve the public trust by having former public employee Joop Bollen talk directly with the public at GOAC, in person, under oath, on September 24.

p.s. [09:52 CDT]: The caller notes that Senator Tidemann deserves extra credit for taking a call from a South Dakotan outside his district. The caller made clear in the voicemail that the caller lived in another legislative district, yet Senator Tidemann still took the time to call back. Well done, Senator Tidemann!

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David Montgomery gets Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds to come out from hiding and answer a few questions about Joop Bollen, the man who ran the state's EB-5 visa investment program while Rounds was governor. Predictably, Rounds says he "wasn't informed of the specifics" (Montgomery's words) and "was not aware that [Bollen] was signing items on his own behalf" (Rounds's words).

Rounds is thus claiming that he did not know that state employee Bollen signed a contract with his own newly formed corporation, SDRC Inc., on January 15, 2008, the company to which Rounds's Office of Economic Development granted a lucrative no-bid contract on December 22, 2009.

Montgomery reports that "Bollen didn't disclose his connections to SDRC, and officials last week said they hadn't known at the time." I don't know the full roster of officials who said that last week, but Bollen did disclose his connections to SDRC Inc. when he formed it. Check out the articles of incorporation for SDRC Inc.,* which Bollen signed on January 3, 2008, and filed with the South Dakota Secretary of State on January 10, 2008. Joop Bollen lists himself as registered agent, incorporator, and president. No one else's name appears on the document, most certainly not James Park of the Hanul Law Firm, who signed the January 15, 2008, contract on behalf of SDRC Inc. On April 7, 2009, the Secretary of State received a statement of change naming Park as SDRC Inc. president and registered agent, but on June 1, 2009, the Secretary of State received articles of amendment from Aberdeen attorney Jeffrey T. Sveen naming Bollen again as the only director of the corporation.

The State of South Dakota knew that Joop Bollen was SDRC Inc. It stretches belief to claim that Mike Rounds had no knowledge of his employee's conflict of interest in 2007 when his administration helped request that the USCIS recognize SDRC Inc. as an integral part of South Dakota's EB-5 program, in 2008 when it started, in 2009 when his office rewarded Bollen with a five-year contract, or in 2010 when he wrote a passel of lame-duck grants to Northern Beef Packers, the pet project that Bollen was keeping alive via SDRC Inc.

But if Rounds wants to confess his inability to root out corruption in his own administration for three years, fine. Let him run on that.

*I'd direct you to the Secretary of State's corporate database, but during the past year, Secretary Gant appears to have scrubbed most of the corporate archives, providing only the last year or two of documents for corporations.

50 comments

Blog compatriot Ken Santema is running for State Treasurer as a Libertarian. I could in good conscience vote for Santema. He knows his numbers, and his current effort to produce the most reasonable and original conservative reporting in the state indicates he would approach government with honesty and openness.

Alas, his candidacy may be as illegitimate as ballot-ousted Ryan Gaddy. My friend Elisa Sand points out the surprising origin of Santema's Libertarian nomination:

His nomination as a statewide candidate at the Aug. 9 Libertarian Convention came as a surprise — especially given that he was nominated by newly registered Libertarian Annette Bosworth. He was one of two Libertarians nominated. Santema said, when he accepted the nomination, the other nominee stepped down [Elisa Sand, "Political Blogger Runs for State Office," Aberdeen American News, 2014.09.05].

I'll get you, Ken! Don't think that Democratic shotgun will save you!

I'll get you, Ken! That Democratic shotgun won't do you any good!

A former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate nominated Libertarian Santema. I won't declare him guilty by association. But I will declare his nomination a violation of SDLP by-laws. Article 2, Section 1 declares that voting members must have paid their dues and be registered Libertarians. As far as I know, Annette Bosworth-Haber was a registered Republican up to the time of the Libertarian convention. (Her name doesn't even appear in the current voter registration database.) If she, like Ryan Gaddy, changed her registration the day of the convention, she was not legally a Libertarian when she nominated Santema, Santema's nomination is illegitimate, and Santema's name should be stricken from the ballot.

However, Secretary of State Jason Gant has likely already printed the ballots and called UPS to haul those ballots to 64 courthouses in time for early voting to start on Friday.

I wish Santema no ill will. Part of me wishes he could replace Republican State Treasurer Richard Sattgast. But if Santema's nomination was illegitimate, can we responsibly mark his name on our ballots?

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South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together has released its "PAWSative" scorecard for the South Dakota Legislature. SD FACT scores legislators on critter-comity based on votes on four bills:

  1. Support for Senate Bill 46, the bill SD FACT championed to make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota as it is in every other state in the Union.
  2. Support for Senate Bill 75, the ban on pit bull bans.
  3. Opposition to Senate Bill 76, which would have expanded current law to allow people to kill mountain lions when their safety is threatened, not just their lives.
  4. Opposition to House Bill 1068, which would have allowed Rep. Betty Olson to hunt mountain lions across the state with more than one dog.

Seven Senators and twelve Representatives score 100% PAWSative:

  • Sen. Angie Buhl O'Donnell (D-15/Sioux Falls)
  • Sen. R. Blake Curd (R-12/Sioux Falls)
  • Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R-18/Yankton)
  • Sen. Mark Kirkeby (R-35/Rapid City)
  • Sen. Deb Peters (R-9/Hartford)
  • Sen. Deb Soholt (R-14/Sioux Falls)
  • Sen. Alan Solano (R-32/Rapid City)
  • Rep. Dan Dryden (R-34/Rapid City)
  • Rep. Christine Erickson (R-11/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Marc Feinstein (D-14/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Peggy Gibson (R-22/Huron)
  • Rep. Timothy Johns (R-31/Spearfish)
  • Rep. David Lust (R-34/Rapid City)
  • Rep. Scott Parsley (D-9/Madison)
  • Rep. Dean Schrempp (D-28A/Lantry)
  • Rep. Karen Soli (D-15/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Roger Solum (R-5/Watertown)
  • Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City)
  • Rep. Susan Wismer (D-1/Britton)

Only two departing Representatives, Republicans Manny Steele (12/Sioux Falls) and Don Kopp (35/Rapid City), are in doghouse with zeroes. Five Senators and twenty Representatives scored just 25%:

  • Sen. Jason Frerichs (D-1/Wilmot)
  • Sen. Tom Jones (D-17/Viborg)
  • Sen. Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen)
  • Sen. Larry Rhoden (R-29/Union Center)
  • Sen. Mike Vehle (R-20/Mitchell)
  • Rep. David Anderson (R-16/Hudson)
  • Rep. Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton)
  • Rep. Gary Cammack (R-29/Union Center)
  • Rep. Scott Craig (R-33/Rapid City)
  • Rep. Brian Gosch (R/32-Rapid City)
  • Rep. Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark)
  • Rep. Jenna Haggar (R-10/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids)
  • Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea)
  • Rep. Elizabeth May (R-27/Kyle)
  • Rep. Scott Munsterman (R-7/Brookings)
  • Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton)
  • Rep. Betty Olson (R-28B/Prairie City)
  • Rep. Herman Otten (R-6/Tea)
  • Rep. Lee Qualm (R-21/Platte)
  • Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R-17/Hurley)
  • Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs)
  • Rep. Jim Stalzer (R-11/Sioux Falls)
  • Rep. Dick Werner (R-22/Huron)

There's certainly more Democratic flavor in the higher rankings and more arch-conservative flavor down low. But Senate Minority Leader Frerichs is among the low scorers. Among the top dogs, we have House Majority Leader Lust and other prominent Republicans.

I mention this partisan mix because Republican squawkers, Big Ag, and some of the press have misportrayed SD FACT as "out-of-state greenies" working for the vilified HSUS. But SD FACT's legislative agenda apparently is not so foreign or radical that it can't find support from South Dakotans of both parties in Pierre.

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Hey, Republicans! When we ask you questions about Mike Rounds's use of the EB-5 visa investment program for economic development, stop shouting It's a federal program!!! Even Bob Mercer isn't buying that dodge:

Rounds and Weiland have run TV ads lately on the EB-5 matter. Neither of their ads is totally accurate. Rounds’ ad is the bigger dodge. EB-5 was indeed his program. His Cabinet pursued expansions of it hard from the federal agency that oversees it. His Cabinet secretary Richard Benda signed the contract in 2009 privatizing EB-5 administration, with state government to receiving percentages of the fees paid by foreign investors to the private company run by Joop Bollen of Aberdeen [Bob Mercer, "Some Democratic Backlash over Column about Pressler," Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.09.15].

Michael Larson says "EB-5 Is Mike Rounds." Maybe that's a stretch, too: technically, EB-5 is every President since George H. W. Bush, Congress, hundreds of Regional Center operators and hordes of lawyers and finaglers who make bank selling green cards to immigrants who think wealth means never having to wait in line with regular folks. But as Mercer says, in South Dakota, EB-5 is Mike Rounds's program.

8 comments

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned a Brookings correspondent's report that Chad Haber and Annette Bosworth had lured students to a campaign event with an ad in the SDSU Collegian promoting marijuana legalization. The comment section lit up with a discussion of who actually placed the ad.

Let's look at the ad in question first:

Cannabis legalization event ad placed in SDSU Collegian, first edition of 2014–2015 school year, August 2014

Cannabis legalization event ad placed in SDSU Collegian, first edition of 2014–2015 school year, August 2014

The ad states that it was "Paid for by the libertarian Party." The ad refers to the Facebook page for the marijuana legalization organization South Dakotans Against Prohibition. It identifies no individual organizers or speakers. Staff at the SDSU Collegian did not identify the the representative of the Libertarian Party who submitted and paid for the ad. We can only hope the advertiser's check did not bounce the way the SDLP's check for SDAP organizer Ryan Gaddy's lawsuit did.

So we don't know who actually signed the check for this ad. But we do know what the ad says. It promotes the September 3 event as a chance to...

  1. get free food,
  2. "meet the libertarian party," and, most prominently,
  3. join a "grassroots digital media movement" to end cannabis prohibition.

I spoke with Nate Cacy, an SDSU student who attended the event at Hillcrest Park. Cacy says the first promise was absolutely true: free food was present.

The second promise is arguably true, if the Libertarian Party now consists of Chad Haber and Annette Bosworth. Haber and Bosworth were the only two organizers who identified themselves at the event.

The third promise, however, the thrust of the ad, proved entirely false. Cacy says that in the half hour that he attended the event, he heard not one word about legalizing marijuana. Haber dominated the event, talking nearly the entire time about his own candidacy for attorney general and, in Cacy's view, coming across as somewhat rude.

Haber exposed that rudeness most clearly when he took a moment to interact with his audience of four (Cacy reports seeing three other spectators, as well as a young unnamed companion helping Haber and Bosworth). Haber asked what issues the youth consider important. Cacy mentioned discrimination and cited LGBT equality issues as an example. Haber said to Cacy, "Oh, so you're coming out to everyone?"

Cacy is still wondering just what Haber's intent was with that comment. I'm trying to figure out how Haber's comment is any way an appropriate response to a voter who raises an important electoral issue.

I'm also trying to figure out the logic that gets a party to advertise an event around Issue X and then play a switcheroo in which one of its candidates shows up unannounced at the event and talks all about himself and not at all about the issue that drew people to the event.

Ah, but it's been a while. I almost forgot: if we're talking about Chad Haber, we're not talking about appropriateness, logic, or truth. We're talking about false advertising and self-obsession, the cement blocks to which the South Dakota Libertarian Party has chained itself.

22 comments

Hey, whose phone is that ringing? Ah, Senator Tidemann....

Ad released by South Dakota Democratic Party, 2014.09.15

Ad released by South Dakota Democratic Party, 2014.09.15

The South Dakota Democratic Party is placing the above ad in Senator Larry Tidemann's local newspaper encouraging his constituents to contact him and demand that he subpoena the folks who could answer the vital questions about Mike Rounds's promotion of Northern Beef Packers and other economic development projects with EB-5 investment. The copy I got did not include the footnotes, but one may refer to the following supporting texts:

  1. "repeatedly broke the law": start with conflict of interest, then unauthorized lawyering, sprinkle Board of Regents policy, and top it off with a scoop of possible tax evasion.
  2. "millions of dollars of potential liability": that's here... and maybe here.
  3. "refuses to bring in...": see Tidemann's willingness to settle for unsworn written testimony here.

Senator Tidemann has proven himself able to change his mind before. Perhaps some civic participation will convince him to change his mind again and acknowledge that the Legislature and the public should hear from Rounds and his GOED/NBP/EB-5 collaborators in person.

129 comments

Hey! Larry Pressler got on TV Sunday morning! MSNBC's Steve Kornacki talked to South Dakota's combusting Independent Senate candidate about our how to attack ISIS, how to get Congress back to work, and how to win a three-way race in South Dakota:

On our impending return to war in the Middle East, Pressler says he would vote for air strikes but against attacking Syria. He opposes pouring more U.S. arms into the region and would prefer more special forces operations and high-tech weapons, with few if any boots on the ground.

Pressler says Congress is supposed to be co-equal with the President in forming foreign policy, but a Congress that can't muster more than continuing resolutions to fund government hardly deserves a seat at the foreign policy table. Pressler predicts Congress will "take a pass" on any serious votes on our military policy toward the Middle East, just as he says Congress has done on the highway trust fund and deficit reduction.

Ending Congress's fecklessness requires Independents, says Pressler. He says that if South Dakota and Kansas double the Senate Indy count to four, he and his Indy caucus could "start something big" and get Congress back to getting things done.

But can Pressler win a three-way race, or is his only hope to get Weiland to drop out? Pressler speaks of no such Kansas-like plan. He says his trajectory in the polls says he can win a three-way race. He says he can a big chunk of the Indian vote away from the Democrats. And he also reminds voters of an advantage that no one else in the race can claim: he gets to take his seniority back to the Senate. That's power for South Dakota, says Pressler, and he will wield it without regard to any of the special-interest money that "cloaks" Rounds and Weiland.

Even Annette Bosworth managed to snag national TV time, so face time on cable like this doesn't tell us anything about who's going to win. But Pressler's TV performance makes South Dakota sound a lot smarter than Mike Rounds's bleating about "South Dakota common sense."

49 comments

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