Last updated on 2013.11.03
Governor Dennis Daugaard certainly isn't waiting for the public results of any state or federal investigation to render his judgment on the South Dakota Regional Center. Mr. Montgomery reports that the Governor quietly canceled our contract with the state's private EB-5 visa program coordinator back on September 19, more nine months early.
Aberdeen reporter Jeff Natalie-Lees does a good job summarizing the history and functions of the SDRC. This private organization, incorporated in 2008 by director Joop Bollen, is the mutant offspring of the South Dakota International Business Institute, which the Mickelson administration established on the Northern State campus in 1989 to help the Governor's Office of Economic Development promote international trade in South Dakota. Since the Rounds administration, the SDRC has been all about landing EB-5 visa funding for GOED-favored projects. If the Daugaard administration has canceled its contract with SDRC, there's not much left for Joop to do but go fishing.
Natalie-Lees gets Bollen to make this incredible statement:
Bollen Thursday said he is surprised by the investigation and he does not believe the South Dakota Regional Center is the focus.
"I certainly haven't felt like the investigation was on anyone focusing on our work with EB-5," said Bollen, who has been interviewed by federal authorities [Jeff Natalie-Lees, "SD Regional Center Steered EB-5 Funds to Beef Plant," Aberdeen American News, 2013.11.01].
Bollen may not know jack about beef plants, but he's an expert on bulls--t. EB-5 is all his organization does. The feds question him. The feds have investigated other EB-5 programs (e.g., in Texas, Mississippi, Chicago...). If you weren't peddling EB-5 visas, Joop, no feds or anyone else would be calling the phone that you now apparently aren't answering.
And the EB-5 program is exactly what former Northern Beef Packers officials Dennis Hellwig and Bob Breukelman yesterday said the feds are investigating.
So whatever Governor Daugaard knew about the state and federal investigations into the South Dakota Regional Center and associated business projects, he had grave enough concerns six weeks ago to cut off SDRC from state money. We can be generous and assume that the Governor didn't tell us right away about the contract cancellation because he was concerned the news might somehow affect the investigations.
We can also say, Aberdeen economic developer Jim Barringer's fretting about jumping to conclusions be darned, that the SDRC did something wrong, and that we will hear more shoes dropping soon.