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Weiland Tells Dem Convention EB-5 Bad Policy, Vows to Repeal

If EB-5 were just a scandal involving deliberately poor government oversight, get-rich-quick schemers, and a dead former state official made fall guy, it would still be reason enough to question the Senate-worthiness of the governor who sunk South Dakota into it, GOP candidate Marion Michael Rounds.

But the EB-5 visa investment program is also bad policy, a point Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland continues to stress. At last night's South Dakota Democratic Party convention banquet, Weiland said that EB-5 corrupts our immigration process and our economic development efforts by doing favors for wealthy foreigners:

To sell residency to rich foreigners, as my opponent aggressively advocated throughout his tenure as Governor, and in a debate just this spring, is not economic development, it is government enabled extortion, and it is wrong.

I am well aware that some in the business community view government enabling the trade of legal American residency to foreigners at $500,000 a pop to be a vitally important economic development tool. As Governor my opponent created and led the fight for this kind of government sponsored sale of residency in South Dakota, and he strongly supports it to this day. It epitomizes his view that enabling private profit is government's number one job.

I fundamentally disagree with that view. I think government's number one job is guaranteeing equal opportunity for all businesses to compete on a level playing field and to win their successes the old fashioned way, by earning them.

I believe South Dakotans can compete without this kind of morally offensive government help. We always have.

If a person is willing to sell legal residency in his own country for private profit, what won't he sell? Where is the line? As has been testified to Congress in great detail, EB-5 is a breeding ground for greed and corruption.

If elected I will vote to abolish the EB-5 enabled sale of legal residency nationwide. My opponent will vote to extend it. The window on our two different philosophies, and on the kind of Senator we each hope to be, could not be clearer [Rick Weiland, speech to South Dakota Democratic Party convention, Yankton, SD, 2014.06.27].

Voters deserve an honest investigation and discussion of the secrecy, legality, and suspicious financing associated with South Dakota's EB-5 program. But whether that investigation brings anyone to court or prison, voters also deserve a thorough discussion of whether it is wise or just to keep selling green cards through EB-5. Rick Weiland has a winning issue here that fits with his central campaign theme, that Mike Rounds is all about profit over people, about favors for rich friends over fair and effective policy.


  1. wal 2014.06.28

    It seems to me that many folks do not realize that when American investors are attracted, there is not a financial gain for the men and women behind the SDRC........when considering these types of entities are paid fees as commission, then charge management fees to the investors for the duration of the investment............If American investors come knocking to invest, they are NOT considered .

  2. mhs 2014.06.28

    Ricky trashing a law introduced by his hero Ted Kennedy and passed with 2/3 Democratic support vs 2/3 Republican opposition? Guess he won't hesitate to toss his old boss Tom Daschle under the bus whenever he thinks it's to his advantage. I think that's a great winning issue for him, he should keep that going, really.

  3. Jerry 2014.06.28

    Pray tell mhs, what was the law that was trashed? You are keeping me in deep suspense.

  4. mhs 2014.06.28

    Immigration act of 1990, amended a couple years later, not exactly sure, but, same Congress. Weiland's old boss Tom Daschle became Minority leader in '94, mainly for pushing bills like this through under George Mitchell.

  5. Jerry 2014.06.28

    It does not seem that the old Act worked then, so it must have failed and now there needs to be new immigration reform. Good deal, hope that it gets done, the country needs it.

  6. mhs 2014.06.28

    Jerry, the point is Weiland is trashing a law his boss helped get passed while Weiland was working for him. For him to blame Rounds for the "bad policy" of EB-5 is laughable. If he had any credibility, he'd do a mea culpa and admit he and Team Daschle screwed up and passed a bad law. Rounds hadn't even been elected to the state legislature yet when Weiland's Washington Democrat bosses pushed this through.

  7. Jerry 2014.06.28

    mhs, the point is you miss it. For him to blame Rounds for "bad policy" is being kind of brave if you ask me. The last guy who spoke out about Rounds "bad policy" was found in a shelter belt or close to a cornfield or near an apple tree or who knows??? The only thing we know is that the guy turned out to be very dead. You must be in on the take for you to defend the EB-5 like that, good for you man. Are you a cheese man or a beef man or a yes man?

  8. Lynn 2014.06.28

    I just discovered this website It's funny! I wonder if Mike Rounds, Marty Jackley, Joop and others from South Dakota will make a guest appearances in one of the episodes. Someone has a great sense of humor and is creative.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.28

    What does it say about our 40 years of Republican leadership that corrupts what could have been a good bill?
    mhs is attempting to blame Daschle and Weiland for Rounds/Daugaard's sticky fingers.
    It's all Ted Kennedy fault that politicians and their cronies got away with millions of dollars and bankrupted Northern Beef Packers.
    Damn that Ted Kennedy, if he and Daschle didn't pass the EB-5 bill, Richard Benda would still be alive.

  10. Jerry 2014.06.28

    Why do republicans always lay the blame on dead guys Roger? Notice that it is Ted Kennedy to blame and then Benda. Hey I know the answer...They cannot govern.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.28

    It is unbelievable that mhs blames Ted, Tom, and Rick for the fraud of EB-5, and like you said, Ted and Benda are dead. mhs has provided us with a worse excuse than Mike Rounds, "NBP is successful".
    Maybe we should go the other way and say that all Republicans are corrupt because Richard Nixon was indeed a crook.

  12. Jerry 2014.06.28

    This is how it works Roger when you are in on the fix. The profit margins are too high for mhs and others like her to not want to keep the status quo. If you think they made out well during the Rounds/Daugaard/Bollen reign as governor/henchmen, wait until they get their greedy little hands on the big ring. We have to stop Rounds from that.

  13. mhs 2014.06.28

    Peddle your conspiracy theories elsewhere boys. Tom Daschle and Rick Weiland helped pass EB-5 13 years before Rounds became governor. Tim Johnson voted for it too, on the house side, along with Larry Pressler in the Senate.

    Daschle, Johnson and Pressler: yep, I'd sure call that bad policy. Ricky's at least got that right.

  14. Jerry 2014.06.28

    No conspiracy theories at all on this end, but you may have to look in mirror to see yours. The last I looked, neither Tom Dashle nor Rick Weiland had anything to do with Benda or the money pits Rounds created for the sting. How much did you guys actually steal on the deal? Come on, I can be discrete. Where are my manners, it is impolite to ask how much your boss got for the scheme, how about letting us in on what you raked in?

    Nice try though, no go spend your ill gotten gains and help stimulate this South Dakota economy with our tax dollars. I guess you will be having stir fry a little later for your snack eh?

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.28

    Do you think mhs can absolutely prove us wrong? He is right on one point, it is not a conspiracy theory, the glaring facts of GOED/EB-5/NBP/Benda don't point to a conspiracy, they point to fraud.
    Where'd the money go? Here's a clue, keep a close eye on the Daugaard and Rounds campaign war chest. Particularly Rounds, when he start to close in on that $9 million he was bragging about, we'll know where at least part of it went.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.28

    All right, mhs, let's go to work:

    Weiland is not calling for repeal of the Immigration Act of 1990, which, among other things, removed homosexuality as a reason to deny an immigrant a visa (ah, so is that why those Republicans voted against it?). Weiland is calling for repeal of one portion of that act, the EB-5 provision.

    President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, signed the bill into law.

    Senator Tom Daschle did vote for it, as did Senator Larry Pressler. The Senate vote on the conference committee version of the bill was 89–8. Opposed were five Republicans and three Democrats.

    Representative Tim Johnson voted for the conference committee version of the bill. The full House vote was 264–118. 50 members did not vote (It was October 27, 1990: folks were probably out campaigning.) 67% of the Democratic caucus voted for the Immigration Act. 53% of the GOP caucus voted for it.

    The Immigration Act of 1990 was approved by both parties. Majorities of both parties erred in including EB-5 in the Immigration Act. The fact that my own party made a mistake does not oblige me or Rick or anyone else not to fix that mistake.

    Republican Senators like Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma have called for ending EB-5. Forget Weiland; why doesn't Rounds get on board with his own party members?

  17. Jerry 2014.06.28

    Nope Roger, natta. mhs would have better luck trying to pin the assassination of the Archduke of Austria in 1914 on Weiland rather than this. mhs does agree though that Rounds was the instigator of the scheme, so that is that. I wonder what state mhs is from, probably East Coast. Where do you think?

  18. mhs 2014.06.29

    Hi Corey. My issue is with Weiland's comment "As Governor my opponent created and led the fight for this kind of government . . . " emphasis on "created". He's trying to pin blame for the "policy" (his words) of EB-5 on Rounds.

    Simply not true.

    I couldn't agree more with you that both parties erred in creating the law. That's what Weiland should be saying, rather than try to blame Rounds, who did not even hold elected office at the time the Act was passed by Congress.

    Weiland wants to place blame, not reform policy. Of course, we get that's part of campaigns. If he's going to accuse Rounds of a policy mistake, he'd better be prepared to defend his party's and his boss's part in making that policy.

    The goal of attracting the best and brightest of the world to our shores played a huge part in the visa process overhaul sections 1990 act. You're dead on that the EB-5 visa concept flew in the face of that policy goal.

    btw: I first ran in to the process when a client wanted to expand his yacht-manufacturing business in MN and SD. The Carter-era luxury tax on yachts had devastated the New England boat craftsman industry in the late '70's. There simply wasn't skilled labor for fine nautical woodwork left in American then, it was mostly to be found in China. His firm, rather than building a plant in China, was looking to classify fine craftsmanship as a "priority skill" allowed under the EB-1 program, bring a few foreign craftsman to the US to teach our workers, thus creating new, high-paying skilled jobs in America. What a concept, huh?

  19. larry kurtz 2014.06.29

    South Dakota is a failed state.

    Until SDGOP is flushed from Pierre, the state will continue to be poisoned and plundered until it washes into the main stem dams, then into the Gulf of Mexico.

  20. larry kurtz 2014.06.29

    Rounds is not only guilty of policy failures he actively protected Bollen and Benda from sunlight or Daugaard would have kept the system in place.

  21. mike from iowa 2014.06.29

    Back in the early 1990s, when Democrats pushed through a big tax on luxury items — specifically the yacht market — the rich stopped buying boats and 120,000 middle-class American boat builders lost their jobs. The Democrats erred in that the tax fell on discretionary spending, which meant that the rich could postpone the paying of such a tax by not buying yachts. But what was interesting about the luxury-tax strategy was that redistributionists were willing to tax people on their wealth, not their income.

    Here is another quote,this from the National Review about Yacht taxes. This was posted in 2006.

  22. Jerry 2014.06.29

    mhs, if I may, you are confusing President Carter with President George Bush the first as he was the one who instituted the luxury tax of 1991. History is not your strong suit, anyone can google this to see your mistake.

    Also, as I was not there to hear the words that came from Rick Weiland's mouth, so I will only say that with what you know now, would you or would you not say that what Marion Rounds was involved in was a criminal conspiracy to defraud investors, be they Chinese or South Korean or Russian or South Dakota taxpayers? That seems to me to be the question of why the EB-5 was a failure for the state of South Dakota but a bonanza for Marion Rounds and his crew.

  23. mike from iowa 2014.06.29

    Larry K-would you happen to know if any EB-5 records were impounded by the AG? I knew Bollen took them from whatever University,but I haven't found out anything else. I would think an AG would be interested in preserving evidence unless he/she was part of the criminal act.

  24. Tim 2014.06.29

    Mike, it's more than likely the AG would be more interested in making such evidence go away if it protects him and a certain republican senate candidate.

  25. 96 Tears 2014.06.29

    If it matters who created the vehicle that resulted in the worst political scandal in South Dakota history and the mysterious death of one of its architects, then mhs is also making the case that gun violence will only end by shutting down the sources of guns. Of course, we know that the responsibility for the misuse of guns is the person squeezing the trigger at another person.

    The gun placed in the hands of a corrupted mind in this case is EB-5. Mike Rounds' administration was the most corrupt in state history because he abused his control of the state's highest office. He and his inner circle, which included the late Richard Benda right up to the end of Rounds' days as Governor, treated state government as an ABM to fill their pockets and those of their pals and family.

    Now, as Rounds prepares to buy a Senate seat using the money of his expanding universe of pals, we see some of the same operatives still in his inner circle preparing to fill more pockets in a much bigger arena in Washington.

    Weiland hit the right key when he talked about EB-5 and its abuse by Benda, Bollen, Rounds and Rounds' inner circle. With mhs' ridiculous excuse (well, they all do it!), we see the Rounds first line of defense. Blame someone else and bury it in bullshit.

    Ted Kennedy didn't hire Benda or allow a state agency to become secretly privatized with absolutely no oversight and transparency. Ted Kennedy was not South Dakota's governor while Rounds' inner circle was filling pockets and making secret deals. Ted Kennedy didn't waste millions of public money on failed mega-dairies and that insane beef processing plant that was doomed because it couldn't sustain enough business even to start and had no market strategy to sell processed beef.

    All of that rests on Mike Rounds. He hired those people. He made those dumbheaded deals. He wasted the public money. He lacked insight for what he was doing. He let an agency collecting millions to become a secretive, corrupt private bank. And he left office with a $127 million debt, spent Obama's bailout money and handed off a train wreck to his chosen successor.

    mhs says you should blame Ted Kennedy for that.

  26. Jim 2014.06.29

    Mhs, you would at least agree that the state was responsible for the administration of the program?

  27. larry kurtz 2014.06.29

    Mike: one item of interest floating around the convention was the commercial shredder at the back door of SDRC for two weeks.

  28. mike from iowa 2014.06.29

    I didn't know about the commercial shredder. Thanks for that info.

  29. mhs 2014.06.29

    Thanks for the clarification Mike, great find on the NYT letter. I get confused in my advancing age between Carter and HW. Both were feckless to such a degree that's it's hard to tell them apart. My personal experience was in late 1993.

    Jim: yes, the State was responsible and failed and Rounds is deserving of the criticism. Weiland, though, called out the program, not the administration of it, as "morally offensive government help". I believe that makes his party's and his Senator's record creating the program fair game and his claiming the moral high ground as disingenuous.

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