Last updated on 2014.06.09
The South Dakota Legislature will at least have some conversation about the EB-5 visa investment program in the coming months. After House State Affairs shot down two Democratic proposals for stronger oversight and investigation of the questionably managed green-cards-for-sale program, the full Senate approved HCR 1010, which requests that the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee hold public hearings and issue a report by December 1 on the Governor's Office of Economic Development and related issues like the visa investment program and the bankrupt Northern Beef Packers.
I can see the December 1 headline: GOAC: GOED EB-5 M.O. OK.
Our discussion of GOED's use of EB-5 has revolved around the potential for corruption, in millions of dollars disappearing into an ill-planned and now bankrupt beef plant, funds circulating through secret investors and offshore accounts, and former public employees walking off with tax dollars and public records. Our committee investigating GOED and EB-5 may not want to investigate corruption too hard: according to a Sunday Salon report, one of the reasons more wealthy Chinese are seeking EB-5 visas and leaving China is their home country's crackdown on corruption. Our rotten ratings for government corruption might actually appeal to some of the EB-5 investor market. GOAC, dare you do any real digging?
Of course, an even bigger driver of emigration among wealthy Chinese is the fact that, test-scores be darned, they like our education system (and Great Britain's, and Canada's) much better than their own. Perhaps instead of luring investment cash from disengaged investors who don't pay attention to the shoddy business and environmental practices of their EB-5 beneficiaries, South Dakota should pour GOED money into education to make our schools magnets for the Chinese high-rollers who are trying to get their kids into Harvard and Princeton. Bring those kids and their families to South Dakota, and those rich parents will invest directly in our communities in ways that will produce ongoing improvements and tax revenue.