In his embarrassing debate performance Saturday, GOP Senate candidate Marion Michael Rounds made the stretchy claim that South Dakota lost no taxpayer dollars on EB-5.
Maybe Rounds can semantically argue that selling green cards to rich foreign investors who then lose their socks on badly managed bankrupt projects doesn't directly deplete South Dakota's public coffers. But his EB-5 program has subsidized bad behavior that continues to cost taxpayers money.
Consider Richard Millner, the notorious dairy don who made $13.5 million in EB-5 investment disappear in the bankruptcy of his Veblen mega-dairies. After frittering away that subsidy, Millner maintained the wherewithal to acquire the Swier Dairy in Lake County, which received $1 million in EB-5 money to subsidize its startup. Since buying into the Ramona market, Millner has stiffed Lake County for thousands of dollars in property tax. He was behind on property taxes last year. A review of the Lake County tax database finds the same is true this year: Lake County Dairy owes Lake County about $12,000.
Millner has also let slip his business registration: according to the Secretary of State's corporate database, Millner has let the corporate registration for his Veblen bar, the Bull Pen, go delinquent. That's another $50 out of which Millner is cheating the state.
I'm sure $12K is small potatoes for Nine-Million-Dollar Man Mike Rounds. But it's $12K Millner owes the taxpayers on businesses that he has only because EB-5 subsidized his earlier failure.