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Kephart: Time for Rounds to Tell the Truth

Last week some of my loyal readers were talking about producing a video ad to call out Republican Senate candidate Marion Mike Rounds. It looks like 2008 Republican Senate candidate Sam Kephart has beaten us to it:

When asked about the EB-5 scandal in his administration, Mike Rounds said we have not lost any taxpayer money. That's simply just not true. According to the report from the Associated Press, state agencies show about 4.3 million tax dollars were lost. It's time for Mike Rounds to tell the truth about EB-5.

It's also time for Mike Rounds to tell the truth about his budget deficits. The Senate Conservative Fund reports these facts:

  1. Mike Rounds expanded state bureaucracy by 1500 full-time employees.
  2. Mike Rounds supported higher cigarette, alcohol, and telephone taxes.
  3. Mike Rounds supported higher Internet taxes.
  4. Mike Rounds supported the TARP bailout program for Wall Street banksters [Citibank sure liked it, but can anyone find Rounds on the record on TARP?].
  5. Mike Rounds supported Obama's "stimulus" spending.
  6. Mike Rounds supported the fiscal cliff deal, raising taxes on 80% of Americans.
  7. Mike Rounds refuses to rule out raising federal taxes in the future.

It's time for Mike Rounds to tell the truth about how much more he spent and how he made state government bigger.

The state budget nearly doubled during the time Mike Rounds was governor. Mike Rounds needs to come clean with South Dakota taxpayers [Sam Kephart, "Mike Rounds Should Come Clean," Liberty Today, 2014.05.03].

Note that Kephart's charge that Rounds increased state employment by 1,500 requires some attention to the calendar. State FTEs in FY2003 were 13,011.6. State FTEs in FY2011 were 13,644.5, for a net increase of 632.9. To get the 1,500 FTEs, you have to look at FY2010, when state FTEs were 14,556.6, an increase of 1545 before Rounds had to cut state jobs post-recession and post-stimulus.

Ditto on the "state budget nearly doubled" claim. FY2003 totaled $2.521 billion. FY2011 totaled $4.131 billion ($30M higher than FY2010). That's a 63.9% increase, shy of my "nearly doubled" threshold.

Fact-check as we will, in 90 seconds, Sam Kephart delivers the ideal anti-Rounds ad for the GOP primary. No personal attacks, all policy details, wrapped around one core message, the most damning thing you can say about a politician: Mike Rounds isn't telling the truth. Break that video into three 30-second chunks, and you've got powerful primary TV.


  1. owen reitzel 2014.05.05

    The one thing missed is that Rounds is lying in his ad when he says that $700 million was diverted to the ACA.
    Not true.
    I'd like to see some of these Republicans point that out as well. Even if they are against the ACA they can recognize the lie.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.05

    Oh, Owen, you ask a lot of our Republican neighbors. I think Sam's critique is the best we're going to get from that side of the aisle. The ACA-Medicare-raid argument is ours to fight. Luckily, we're up to the challenge!

  3. Les 2014.05.05

    One thing missed?
    Rounds says it wasn't he who pulled the only National Guard unit out of the whole northwest 1/4 of our state. Mobridge to Montana and North Dakota to the Black Hills.
    Vetoed Sen Maher's Bill which would have put a .02 cent a barrel spill reserve on KXL capped at 30 Mil. Don't remember how he stated the reason for supporting an international company over his own state.
    Sent his highway patrol out to do the dirty business of taking over the brand board.
    Told the fib that Aero Fund money was ARA funds when taking Aero Fund money and putting it down the hole in Lead.
    Something about laptop funding that sent shivers down the spines of those who knew and should have spoken?
    The larger issue for me would have been carrying the water for BJ back when Mike ran the legislation to close the books on SD State Treasurer Dick Butler and the citizens he represented which began the dark ages for South Dakota. As in EB5, we don't need to know now and we didn't need to know then.
    I'd say he'd make a perfect fit in DC.

  4. Les 2014.05.05

    """ Luckily, we're up to the challenge!"""
    Dare I say you hold the keys to the primary? Up to the challenge? Questionable if it means actually registering and voting.

  5. mike from iowa 2014.05.05

    Haven't seen or read anything from Rounds about support for TARP,yet. What I did find was the name of the architect of TARP and it appears to be quite revealing-Neel Kashkari. Sounds an awful lot like what happened to all the foreign investments in NBP. And the plot thickens.....

  6. owen reitzel 2014.05.05

    I agree Cory except in this case Rounds is lying. No middle ground here. Our Republican friends, even if they don't like the ACA, have to come out and say this is a lie

  7. John Tsitrian 2014.05.05

    Cory, the near-doubling of the state's budget by itself is meaningless and demands contextuality. Going to the "post stimulus" link that you provide, you'll find a table that shows spending remained at around 16% of SD's GDP from '03 through '09. I think you're hanging a bad rap on Rounds with that one.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.05

    That maybe true with the SD's GDP remaining at 16% and you have a valid point.

    The point is that Rounds used the Obama stimulus when Republicans across the board vehemently opposed it.

    Doesn't taking and spending federal money you are ideologically opposed to present a problem?

  9. John Tsitrian 2014.05.05

    Well, look at this way, Roger. We're mad at Daugaard for NOT accepting federal money via medicaid expansion because of his party's philosophical opposition. Why are we mad at Rounds FOR accepting federal money via the stimulus in spite of his party's philosophical opposition?

  10. John Tsitrian 2014.05.05

    Here's another uninformed point made by this "conservative" who obviously knows nothing about the retail trade in SD. That bit about "supporting higher internet taxes" has to do with taxing internet sales in order to make SD's brick and mortar retailers competitive with their on-line competitors. The South Dakota Retailers Association strongly supported this measure when it came up in the state legislature and maintains its support now that it's being considered on a federal level. Do South Dakota "true" conservatives seriously think they'll get support from South Dakota's retailers by complaining about those who want to level the playing field for them? As a long-time member of SDRA, I can tell you that Kephart is completely out of touch on this issue. "True" conservatives, beware of this person's siren song--or at least analyze it point by point and consider its political value as an asset or a liability.

  11. John Tsitrian 2014.05.05

    Holy smokes, yet another fatuous attack on Rounds from "Mr. Conservative." It's in the line about "the fiscal cliff." Apparently, Rounds' statement that he would've voted to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling last October is an outrage to "true conservatives." Does Sam "I'm a real honest-to-goodness rootin' tootin' conservative" Kephart have a clue as to the financial devastation that blanketed this state during the shutdown? Good grief. If the "real conservatives" in this state are buying this version of political looney-tunes, their connection to political reality can seriously be questioned.

  12. Rick 2014.05.05

    John - Rounds is making a phony pivot to the hard core right wing of the state GOP to preen for votes in the primary. Of course he's going to get bitch-slapped by real conservative Republicans like Kephart. Come June 4, he'll drop them because he thinks they've got nowhere else to go. Then he'll pivot to the center for the general election, meanwhile offering no ideas or firm positions about what he'll do in office.

    That's what we got with Rounds as Governor, and he kept all the promises he never made. We also got a bag full of lawless scandals from his GOED and the smallest, least noteworthy record of accomplishment by a South Dakota governor in at least 50 years. Oh yeh, let's not forget his legacy ... a bunch of pissed off people over his stupid Hyperion gorilla project, a handout of millions to TransCanada to stick their pipeline on other people's properties, special favor legislation for his brothers' vodka business, making state government a hog trough with jobs and contracts for family members and close pals, and a $120 million debt that forced his successor to slice the next state budget like Charlie Manson's henchman.

    Rounds was a complete zero as a chief executive. In the State Senate, he was Janklow's errand boy. I understand brand loyalty for Republicans, but I don't understand how he passed the minimum test as Governor to be allowed a coronation ceremony as U.S. Senator in 2014.

    Show me a convincing record of getting anything done by Rounds, other than serving as South Dakota's Homecoming King Governor for eight years and filling the pockets of pals and family. All he's earned is our contempt and date with a grand jury.

  13. John Tsitrian 2014.05.05

    Rick, I'm dumping on Kephart, not supporting Rounds. Every point you make has merit. I'm just calling BS where calling BS is justified. If the "conservative" cabal of GOP hopefuls at the PBS debate tries using any of this unsupportable garbage in their attacks on Rounds, he'll just fire back and destroy them. Your laundry list is a much better jumping off point for going after this guy's vulnerabilities.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.05


    The difference between Rounds accepting Obama stimulus money to balance the state budget while publicly condemning the program and Daugaard refusing medicaid expansion, is that Rounds acceptance was intangible, and we all know the tangible benefits of medicaid expansion.

  15. Les 2014.05.06

    """"" spending remained at around 16% of SD's GDP from '03 through '09. I think you're hanging a bad rap on Rounds with that one.""""
    Government spending should run with GDP, JT? GDP doesn't mean squat when calculating disposable income, which begs the question. Who exactly are you supporting for these higher office SD elections, JT?

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