Press "Enter" to skip to content

Daugaard Cancelled Contract with South Dakota EB-5 Center in September

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.


  1. sid 2013.11.02

    Now the question is raised: "Who is now in charge of the SDIF Limited Partneerships and LLC's?" If it is the state, have they conveyed instructions to the lawyers representing SDIF LP6 and 9 in the NBP bankruptcy? If not, then who IS in charge of issuing instructions to the lawyers? Since September 19, there has been significant hearings and positions taken on behalf of the SDIFs in the bankruptcy case and, quite frankly, those entities are not faring too well. Also, if the State is in control, why has Jackley, as the State's top lawyer, not become aggressively involved in the case to protect the State's interests?

  2. rollin potter 2013.11.02

    Hey Sid, leave it Cory to find out an answere to all your questions. He will get the job done!!!!!!!!!! We should set up a watch dog program in pierre and make Cory the ceo and chief snoop dog of it!!!!!!!!!!!! He is as usual way ahead of all the garbage going on in the state!!!! Keep it up Cory!!!!!!

  3. Jana 2013.11.02

    No matter where this investigation goes, the Governor should demand public legislative hearings to obtain the facts on how we find ourselves in this position.

    This is an embarrassment to the citizens of South Dakota and there should be someone demanding answers and guidance as to how this can never happen again in the great state of South Dakota.

    Of course I can see the withering testimony now. "Secretary Costello...was Governor Rounds a great governor, or the greatest governor ever?"

    Please South Dakota, wake up! One party rule, an isolated capital and a depleted press is a sure recipe for this to happen again!

  4. owen reitzel 2013.11.02

    this is in the link below from the Mitchell daily Republic.

    "Attorney General Marty Jackley said Thursday that “Mike Rounds was not and is not a target of the state’s investigation into the office of economic development.”

    My question is why??? If the evidence leads to him he should be investigated. Jackley should be in trouble for making a statement like that.

  5. Bob Klein 2013.11.02

    Why isn't Rounds a target? Perhaps because he didn't actually get HIS fingers dirty. Or perhaps there are nefarious reasons.

  6. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.02

    Bob, the best way to find out for certain about Rounds, is to include him in a thorough investigation.

  7. owen reitzel 2013.11.02

    I don't know if Rounds is guilty of anything but for Jackley to say that Rounds isn't a part of the investigation is wrong.

  8. Jana 2013.11.02

    Free Pat Powers!!!

  9. Jana 2013.11.02

    I will continue to plead for Pat to be freed, but it occurred to me that there must be some panic in the Rounds campaign.

    If there was nothing to worry about, they would have the former EB-5 merchant/governor in front of every TV camera and pliable press outlet.

    Powers would have been given the talking points to spread near and far.

    The comments on Pat's site would be proclaiming the innocence and heralding the free market principals of selling fraudulent citizenship.

    So far the silence is deafening...

    Can we rename Pat's site the Cricket College yet?

  10. Jana 2013.11.02

    Cancelled in September and announced when it became a breaking scandal?

    Oh puppet master Tony...tell us again about transparency out of the Governor's office.

    Gosh, let's start with a detailed description of what you knew in August, July, end this contract and why you didn't make it public.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.03

    Bob, Deb, I'm thinking captain of the ship. SDRC was incorporated under Mike Rounds. The EB-5 program and focus on big dairies and ag plants took off under Mike Rounds. If SDRC committed wrongdoing, there's no way Rounds doesn't own some part of it.

    Rollin, thanks for that vote of confidence. To start that watchdog organization, we're going to need some startup capital. Maybe some of those Korean investors have some cash left....

    Sid, could the state's assumption of EB-5 duties delay the bankruptcy auction?

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.03

    Notice campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg's written response on behalf of candidate Rounds, quoted in the MDR article Owen links above: "We believe the investigation will have no impact whatsoever on the U.S. Senate race.... We believe that once the attorney general’s report and the governor’s review are made public, that speculation will end as the facts are established."

    The attorney general's report. The governor's review. Did he forget to mention the federal investigation? Or is Team Rounds choosing words very carefully?

  13. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.03

    Jackley maybe able to say that Rounds is not a part of a state investigation, but if the feds are investigating the state, how would Jackley know whether or not Rounds is part of a federal investigation? Or even if Jackley is part of the federal investigation
    It is difficult to believe that the feds would share that kind of information with an attorney general.

  14. Bree S. 2013.11.03

    Love the PPP poll. 68% of South Dakotans think the government has been taken over by Big Money. Ha ha! Doesn't matter if they can legally connect this to Rounds. He's walking on a paper floor.

    What was that about Stace only getting 10% of the primary Grudz? Hope you're not wearing a sombrero.

  15. John 2013.11.03

    One question for South Dakotan's will be whether they want more, larger crony capitalism from their US senator. I reckon not.

    Of course Rounds' involvement requires investigation, even if for the sole reason to exonerate him. Rounds needs exoneration from possible criminal wrongdoing - and more importantly - in the court of public opinion from the perception of wrong doing. Likely so do others, perhaps even some in the AG's office.

    Fascism occurs when one cannot discern between actions of government and business - that is certainly the NBP case. Imagine government picking winners, the horror.

  16. rollin potter 2013.11.03

    Hey Cory, I will try to get a hold of Bollen and see if he can line us up with some EB5 money to start up our watch dog program!!! HA!! HA!!

  17. Dave 2013.11.03

    Jana: It appears that the person or persons who have pirated Dakota War College are attempting to make it look like everything is ok at the college. For the last couple days, they have simply posted press releases and things stolen from facebook. There has been no original political analysis, especially about the GOED investigation, or any other substantive political issue, really, to make it appear everything is operating normally at that blog.

    Free Pat Powers!

  18. State Government 2013.11.03

    Pat Costello was not... [CAH edit: If you want to comment, you need to pick a consistent handle, and not a slogan or a phrase that misrepresents who you are. You also need to share with me a non-bogus e-mail address so I can verify your personhood.]

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.03

    Right on, Rollin!

    Jana, maybe DWC has been taken over by Korean investors who bought Powers out and will replace him with someone who knows nothing about blogging, like Bill Clay.

  20. WR Old Guy 2013.11.03

    I hear the state just let an emergency contract for earth moving equipment. It seems that there is a large amount of hazardous and odorus material to be buried deeply. I am not referring dead livestock from the blizzard. I bet we will never know the full story.

    I prefer to post under the above name, which I also use on the RCJ blogs although not often since Kevin left. I have had some bad experiences over the years with people who disagree calling or showing up at my door. [...]

  21. Rick 2013.11.03

    Here's another hit from the Rounds years of payoffs and favors for family and friends that may have occurred about the same time:

    "Rapid City real estate broker Douglas E. Andrews was sentenced Friday in Pierre for bribing a state employee to ensure the state Department of Transportation bought land from his clients. In November, Andrews pleaded guilty to three felony counts of bribery for paying kickbacks to Clayton R. Sonnenschein, who was in charge of the DOT land purchases along Interstate 90 in the Rapid City area."

    From the RCJ:

    While this DOT scandal is unrelated to the current investigation, you've got to wonder what inspires crooked dealings in the name of the State of South Dakota. And why do they think they could get away with it?

  22. Winston 2013.11.03

    "And why do they think they could get away with it?"..... Because the GOP has been in charge for 40 continuous years and this current crowd (Rounds/Daugaard) are just not as cunning and intimidating as their predecessor(s) when it comes to playing the game by their rules.....

Comments are closed.