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Wismer Seeks Proxy to Prevent Political Theater at EB-5 Hearing… But Whom?

Rep. Susan Wismer (D-1/Britton) makes a curious request this afternoon, asking Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) to allow the Democratic leadership to appoint a proxy to sit in for her at the September 24 meeting of the Government Operations and Audit Committee.

September 24 is the eagerly anticipated hearing at which the brilliant Sen. Tidemann has asked SDRC Inc. executive (and tax-evading banker?) Joop Bollen and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson to enlighten GOAC about the Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal. Democratic legislators have asked Governor Dennis Daugaard, EB-5-initiating former governor Mike Rounds, and SDRC Inc. lawyer and GOP pal Jeffrey T. Sveen to join Bollen for the September 24 hearing.

Gubernatorial candidate Wismer apparently anticipates awkwardness in the possibility of her questioning her election opponent Governor Daugaard during the hearing:

We need to get the bottom of this, and in order to do that, key EB-5 decision-makers need to answer questions from committee members in person. The people of South Dakota deserve to know the truth about EB-5. If my campaign and membership on the committee creates a conflict, I’m more than willing to step aside during this meeting so South Dakotans can get answers without the meeting turning into political theater [Rep. Susan Wismer, press release, 2014.08.27].

Conflict? Political theater? Oh, Rep. Wismer, we're already there, whether you're in one of the big chairs September 24 or not.

Candidate or not, I wouldn't give up a GOAC seat for anything, not when I could have the chance to look Bollen, Rounds, Daugaard, and Sveen in the eyes and ask What did you know and when did you know it? The crucial meeting of GOAC's entire interim, the only one so far at which GOAC may have before it a prime player and witness to the EB-5 snafu, is no time for someone who has followed the issue, heard the testimony, and read the documents presented so far to step aside and be replaced by a legislator who may need to be brought up to speed.

But if Rep. Wismer's concerns are valid, if we mustn't chance an ugly or spinnable confrontation between two candidates for governor, then let's get someone who's followed EB-5, someone who has been a bulldog on the issue, someone who has some investigative and prosecutorial experience who could bring some cross-examinatory heat to Joop Bollen and whoever else testifies on September 24.

As Rep. Wismer's proxy, let's appoint Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton).

He's not on any ballot this fall. He proposed legislation calling for stiffer action to prevent further EB-5 mischief. He railed against EB-5 and lost tax dollars during the primary season. His experience as an NCIS investigator trained him in asking suspects the right questions.

And to top off his qualifications, Rep. Nelson is a Republican. If we're really worried that Rep. Wismer's presence at GOAC on September 24 would undermine the search for truth with accusations of partisan machinations, what more magnanimous gesture could Rep. Wismer and the Democratic leadership make than to appoint a Republican in her place?

Rep. Wismer, I think you should keep your seat. But if you think stepping aside is best... well, Rep. Nelson, polish your shoes and prep your questions!


  1. larry kurtz 2014.08.27

    Tim Johns: call me.

  2. grudznick 2014.08.27

    Jim Hundstad is your proxy man.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.27

    Susan shows true integrity with this request, I'd much rather have in "one of those big chairs", conflict or no.

    Stace Nelson is an interesting choice for a proxy and knows the case, maybe Cory provide him questions to ask.

    Has Stace indicated who he is supporting for Senate? That should be a point for consideration and could possibly tip the scale.

    Another question, why hasn't GOAC "asked" or subpoenaed anyone from Northern Beef Packers?

  4. Bill Fleming 2014.08.27

    Stacy? Hmmm... I was thinking maybe Patrick Duffey. But Stacy? Well, he does have that Republican thing going for him, I guess.


  5. jerry 2014.08.27

    I think you nailed it Bill Fleming. Mr. Duffy may even have a better way of directing the questions to this interesting character.

  6. Joe 2014.08.27

    My guess is she has someone who she thinks can do a better job, for her to make this request, other wise its a stupid request.

  7. grudznick 2014.08.27

    Bah. That Mr. Duffy fellow is a character to be sure, but he's not in the legislatures and that isn't a court of law that Mr. Tidemann presides over with his fist of steel.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.27

    Wouldn't the proxy have to be a member of the legislature?
    If so, that would eliminate Patrick Duffy.
    Duffy should be there to provide council Larry Lucas or the proxy.

  9. grudznick 2014.08.27

    Mr. Duffy should be barred from the room on account of his haircut alone. But I jest as I have an even worse one. Seriously, Duffy should sit in the chairs with the public like me and Sibby do.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.27

    I agree grudgingly with grudz: I am not aware of any precedent or statute that would allow a non-legislator to occupy the seat of a legislator in a committee hearing or any other official Legislative setting. For Mr. Duffy to play an active role in a GOAC hearing, we'd need to take up part of the Hunhoff-Lucas proposal from Tuesday and allow the legislators to have independent legal counsel available to assist during the hearing... which I think would be useful and interesting.

    By the way, SDPB, you'd better send the Statehouse crew to broadcast live video of GOAC on Sept. 24.

  11. grudznick 2014.08.27

    Ms. Wismer probably just wants off that committee to avoid all the heckling she endures on a regular basis in the legislatures. You know that they just want to put Mr. Hunhoff in there don't you? Mr. Hunhoff is regretting not assigning himself to that goack committee and now wants on so he told Ms. Wismer to beg off.

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.27

    Rep. Nelson is a very interesting and creative choice. I like Mr. Duffy as counsel. Is that allowed in SD legislative hearings?

    I think Ms. Wismer is wise to offer to recuse herself. She is eliminating one Republican-offered distraction.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.27

    At sometime with Cory's reporting we were told that there were anywhere between 6-8 different federal agencies investigating EB-5. I believe that included Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service to name two.
    As long Tidemann is "asking" our U.S. Attorney to appear before GOAC in September, why doesn't he ask for all the federal agencies investigating EB-5 to also testify.
    Shouldn't someone from Northern Beef Packers be called to testify?

  14. Kathy Tyler 2014.08.27

    To me, this is a very professional, wise decision on Rep. Wismer's part. I know of someone who would really like that spot for a question or two or three!

  15. Nick Nemec 2014.08.27

    My prediction, Mr. Joop Bollen will decline the "invitation".

  16. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.27

    Rep. Tyler! Great choice! It ought to be you!

  17. Tara Volesky 2014.08.28

    No, no, no, Susan hang in there, and don't back down. It shows a sign of weakness if you get out. Fight them all the way. You need to show you will fight against the machine.

  18. Tara Volesky 2014.08.28

    Susan, if you back down, if shows a sign of weakness. Don't listen to these people that what to protect you from the opposition. You are a very intelligent person, just do the right thing. You don't need a guy to stand in for you.

  19. JeniW 2014.08.28

    Tara, I am sure that Susan and those actively involved in her campaign spent quite some time talking and discussing the pros and cons of her having a proxy. It was a tough decision to make, and no doubt there will be people who will not like the decision she made, that is a given. At the same time, there will be those who will like her decision.

    Everyone has to pick and choose their battles and all that goes with it.

    You might consider her as being "weak," others may think she is being "wise." I trust her enough to make that decision just as I would trust her to make decisions when it comes to being a governor.

  20. mike fro iowa 2014.08.28

    Whatever decision is made,Wadhams and wingnuts will put their own personal spin on it and it won't be favorable to Ms Wismer. Personally speaking,I'd be more concerned with conflicts of interest on the opposite side of the table. Didn't some wingnut mention yesterday that they aren't very good at investigations?

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.28

    I agree with JeniW that Wismer's offer is not a sign of backing down or weakness. I am sure she will confab with whoever replaces her that day, if Chairman Tidemann allows a replacement (and yes, Rep. Kathy Tyler would be an excellent choice!). I'm sure Wismer will continue to raise heck about the issue on the campaign trail.

    Ah, and asking that permission is clever: if Tidemann says no (and that's what Republicans do, say no just because Democrats are asking), then Wismer can't be blamed for creating a political distraction (as Deb suspects the Republicans would otherwise do).

    But you know, Republicans are going to continue to charge that EB-5/NBP/GOED isn't really a scandal; that Dennis Daugaard and Mike Rounds did nothing wrong; that the bankrupt beef plant, the bankrupt dairy, the lost jobs, the lost tax dollars, the lost investments, the bank franchise tax evasion, the profit-seeking privatization of a state function, the lack of oversight and the abuses of power are all figments of Democrats' desperate political imaginations. We won't stanch that attack, so defusing the charge of politicizing this one hearing may be of insignificant tactical value. I'd still keep the seat and take a leading role in the show.

  22. Michael Quinlivan 2014.08.28

    If he declines, and they do not subpoena Joop, then the optics will appear horrible for most of the Republicans. However, I wonder if Joop hasn't been spilling his guys to the Feds already, in exchange for some reduced sentence. What gain would he have to speak at the committee? Just speculation.

  23. Jim 2014.08.28

    Joop won't go cause Harv and sveen won't let him. Mike and Dennis won't answer anything spontaneously. They will have their teams submit some carefully crafted and coordinated written responses.
    Btw, are we sure NBP went bk? Maybe it just suffered a structural deficit.

  24. larry kurtz 2014.08.28

    Pat Duffy said that everybody has lawyered up: anyone know Joop's attorney?

  25. 96 Tears 2014.08.28

    Joop Bollen will decline the invitation "at the advice of my attorney." He will wait until the last minute, so the next meeting of the GOAC will be set another month later so that a subpoena can be ordered and delivered. By then, the election will be over and the state will be played for a bunch of dupes, just as they are at every session of the legislature.

    Interesting that Tidemann complains about Democrats playing politics here. People, including legislators, have raised hell for 10 months and they've been stonewalled every step of the way. Check back on the early articles in October and November when nearly everything we know today was laid out and questions were asked that still have not been answered.

    The headline of Bob Mercer's article Nov. 26 in the Aberdeen American News shows you how the AG was deceiving the public and minimizing a major scandal in the Rounds and Daugaard administrations - "AG: Didn't talk to Benda about probe; Restitution for $550,000 diverted to Northern Beef 'not my call,' Jackley says"

    Today, we know that was a load of bullshit.

    In December, Rep. Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City, was pleading to the legislature and in the press to demand a "forensic audit" of EB-5 as done in South Dakota and she was stonewalled and pilloried by the SDGOP and their blog assassins.

    Mr. Rave's concerns about the investigative capacities of the legislature will not need to be tested. Everybody go back to sleep. Susan Wismer won't need to worry about the appearance of things in a meeting that will not happen.

    Running down the clock.

  26. Liberty Dick 2014.08.28

    Awkwardness? I think maybe she realizes other people have a better understanding of the situation than she does and wants someone more qualified. Has she read the reports yet?

  27. larry kurtz 2014.08.28

    Dick: don't you have some beer to swill?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.28

    LibD shows that conservatives will find some mud to throw no matter what she does... which I take as an argument for keeping her front row seat and pressing the questions herself, political barbs be darned.

  29. Tara Volesky 2014.08.28

    Take off the gloves Susan and fight like a girl.

  30. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.28

    What is the motivation behind Mike Myers campaign manager offering advice to Democrat Wismer?

    The Republicans will play this is as damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. Let them, it only opens up more questions.

    The irony is that Rounds and Daugaard are in the same position, if they run from GOAC they will be perceived as having something to hide, if they do appear in person and won't directly answer questions, they'll show their culpability in the GOEDEB-5 stonewalling and cover up.

    Who has the most to lose, Rounds/Daugaard or Wismer?

  31. mikeyc, that's me! 2014.08.28

    I think I might have some torches and pitchforks around here somewhere.

  32. Tara Volesky 2014.08.28

    I think the people have the most to lose. You should not have to worry about getting elected. Just do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Just trying to cheer her on. It takes more than one person to bring down the machine. I won't trash any competitor that fights the establishment.

  33. grudznick 2014.08.28

    Mr. C, what if they show up and answer questions with simple "I don't know what Joop did with his own money" or "I was not part of any contract between Beef Packer inc and Mr. Benda?"

    When Ms. Wismer starts stuttering through her "Which of you hired the Chinese Mafia" questions or rolls out the Mike Meyers videos I wouldn't be surprised to see Mr. Rounds laugh out loud at her and the whole room join him.

  34. larry kurtz 2014.08.28

    grud, you are adding nothing to this conversion. pp would love to know you have you sleeping with his wife so go over there and help him find his junior johnson.

  35. larry kurtz 2014.08.28

    How many members of GOAC are running for reelection?

  36. grudznick 2014.08.28

    I'm adding a lot more than just wishing for Mexican statehood for the tribes, like you do Lar.

    It's all just a sideshow, and I do enjoy entertainment.

  37. JeniW 2014.08.28

    Mr. Rounds laughs at people as a form of belittling them. When he does this he is showing a lack of respect for others, and it is a reflection of his immaturity.

  38. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.28


    Although I haven't seen the Dakotafest gubernatorial debate I hear that Ms. Wismer was really able to bring it home on GOED-EB-5 on Daugaard's involvement.
    I have every confidence Susan will be able to reform equally well questioning Rounds and Daugaard at the GOAC hearings in September.

  39. grudznick 2014.08.28

    Ms. Jeni, there are many here who do the very same thing. Many indeed. That is the world in which we live.

  40. tara volesky 2014.08.28

    Tune in tomorrow at 10:00 am, on Freedom Stage. The GOAC meeting in Sept. will pale in comparison to the Governor's debate tomorrow. Don't get your hopes up, because Bollin isn't going to show up to the meeting.

  41. grudznick 2014.08.28

    Jim Bollin the common-core advocate is involved in E-B5 debates, Ms. Volesky? I thought he quit running for State Secretary or something because he wanted to focus on pushing common-core 1234 stuff.

  42. jerry 2014.08.28

    JeniW, I am going to go further on what you say about Rounds and his belittling laugh. That is not a laugh of power, his is one of fear. I can see it in his eyes as they dart about, no, this man is very fearful that he will be found out for the fraud he is. Why do you think he will not do debates? His big worry is that someone will laugh their ass off at his blunders and call him on the carpet for them.

  43. Jim 2014.08.28

    Grudz, you should run and straighten out this mess and others. Your slogan could be: a chicken in every pot, and gravy on every tater.

  44. grudznick 2014.08.28

    That is a really swell idea. I could fix a lot of stuff.

  45. tara volesky 2014.08.28

    Go for it Grudz, maybe they need to put you on the GOAC committee.

  46. grudznick 2014.08.28

    I would be a one man committee of government of auditing committee committee (GOAC committee), Ms. Volesky. They could not stop me. They could try but they would fail. I would be a huge hit at the breakfast caucuses they have every day and I would require no pay beyond the free food. The power would not go to my head and I would wield it like a sharp stick, poking only where necessary but waving it around to get attention, whistling it through the air when I had to.

  47. tara volesky 2014.08.28

    Gruds, consider yourself hired, all the free food you can eat in exchange for getting some answers.

  48. JeniW 2014.08.28

    Jerry, Rounds was like that during his first campaign for being governor. He laughed at the other candidates who he disagreed with.

    Much in the same way that Ronald Reagan would laugh, shake his head, and say "there you go again....."

  49. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.28

    Jim, this is brilliant!
    "Grudz, you should run and straighten out this mess and others. Your slogan could be: a chicken in every pot, and gravy on every tater."

    So when does your campaign begin Grudz? I'd like to contribute. How about a gift certificate to your favorite GravyTaters Cafe? Let me know.

  50. jerry 2014.08.28

    Ronald Reagan was an actor that knew the one line and that was all he knew. Ronald Reagan was also coached to start his campaign seriously in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Like Mike Rounds, Reagan played the fear card and acted like he had control of the situation with his states rights bullshit.

    Mike Rounds is much the same way with a major difference. Reagan was an actor that could play a part. Mike Rounds is not an actor and is a very fearful man that is very insecure in all he does. The only time he acts is when he is around a situation where there are veterans and then he acts like he is one of us. He could have gone into the military, but was to fearful. I think that he had success as an insurance agent only because he was an order taker and not a salesman. In my opinion, when someone is fearful, they are a bully and need to be treated as such.

    In a nutshell, Mike Rounds is no Ronald Reagan, he is more like Michael Reagan.

  51. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.28

    This election cycle has already become a three ring circus with the phony Bosworth campaign and candidates Haber and Gaddy becoming Libertarians-For-A-Day.

    We don't need grudz to add a fourth ring.

  52. Jim 2014.08.29

    Roger, I know the filing deadlines have passed, but I think maybe we The Grudz now more than ever:)

  53. lesliengland 2014.08.30

    ms. tyler-must the questioner be a committee mbr? how about marc feinstein (house dem./ sxfalls lawyer/judicial candidate-doh!); scott parsley (house dem./utility mgmt.); ray ring (house dem./prof. economics)

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