You know that federal investigation of the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development? It appears they are looking where I thought they'd be looking:
Dennis Hellwig, who stepped down as Northern Beef Packers’ general partner more than four years ago, and Bob Breukelman, the plant’s former construction engineer, told the AP they have been questioned by federal investigators about the idled Aberdeen plant’s financial dealings and the federal EB-5 program, in which foreign investors can secure permanent residency for as little as $500,000.
“There were some discrepancies in the way the EB-5 program was being handled,” Breukelman said.
Neither Hellwig nor Breukelman would go into detail about the agents’ questions or their responses ["Feds Looking into S.D. Beef Plant," AP via that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.10.31].
What's that I said yesterday about where we ought to look first for possible financial misconduct in state economic development activities?
South Dakota, operating through the privately incorporated South Dakota Regional Center, has used EB-5 money to fund numerous projects: the Dakota Provisions turkey plant in Huron, the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino, the Veblen megadairies, and Northern Beef Packers.
The last two were the biggest projects the SDRC funded during the Rounds Administration. And without the advocacy of Mike Rounds and the financial wizardry of Richard Benda, Northern Beef Packers in particular never would have happened. The Veblen megadairies and Northern Beef Packers both made millions of dollars of EB-5 money disappear in apparent mismanagement and bankruptcy.
If there was any place for anything to go wrong with big money, the EB-5 visa program and the bankrupt projects it funded seem like the first place to look [Cory Allen Heidelberger, "Feds Investigate Governor’s Office of Economic Development," Madville Times, 2013.10.30].
What's that you hear, Pat? Drip, drip, drip....