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No More Janklows: Rounds Legacy of Non-Achievement Perfect for Today’s SDGOP

Darrell Solberg of Sioux Falls aptly summarizes the legacy of former Governor, now Senate candidate, Mike Rounds:

He... spearheaded the failed Northern Beef Packing plant in Aberdeen, which has cost people millions.

The implementation of EB-5... not only cost investors and taxpayers millions, it has lead to lawsuits, unanswered questions, a death and the distrust of people in state government.

Seven out of the eight years in office, his administration had a structural deficit (more expenses than revenue) and thus took money out of reserve funds to balance the budget.

....Lack of government openness and transparency led to questionable practices, pay to play, tax rebates for oil pipelines and no-bid contracts.

Increasing the number of state employees, many of whom were relatives or friends, increased the state’s expenses and dependency on federal dollars.

...[L]ack of attention and commitment to education funding has caused a severe teacher shortage in the state.

College tuitions are on an upward spiral; South Dakota college graduates have one of the highest educational debts upon graduation, forcing many to leave for better paying jobs.

...Use of state airplanes for the enjoyment of attending Pierre High School football games, with friends accompanying [Rounds] while his son played [Darrell Solberg, letter to the editor, that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.27].

I recall Rick Knobe interviewing Scott Heidepriem on KSOO a few years ago. Heidepriem compared Mike Rounds and Bill Janklow. A recovering Republican, Heidepriem said that he disagreed with plenty of Janklow's decisions, but he respected Janklow's big vision and his ability to translate that vision into action. Rounds, said Heidepriem, didn't seem to have any vision. Rounds came and went from the Capitol and didn't really change anything about South Dakota. The only real marks he left were red ink in the budget and higher numbers on the Hobbs meter.

Maybe the South Dakota Republican Party is done giving us Janklows. The party of No and Noem wants pretty smiles that say the right things but do nothing more than raise money and win elections. Mike Rounds's empty gubernatorial legacy shows he fits that mold perfectly.

Anticipated Related Reading: The University of South Dakota is digitizing the Janklow Papers. Janklow gave his papers to his alma mater on the condition that they make the documents available to the public online. The Janklow Papers should make for fascinating historical reading. Candidate Rounds, how about a sneak peak at the Rounds Papers, with a focus on your flight logs and Northern Beef Packers memos?


  1. Nick Nemec 2014.08.28

    Don't hold your breath waiting for the Rounds papers. If they are ever made public they will be scrubbed of any non flattering information, more than likely they will be withheld in perpetuity.

  2. lesliengland 2014.08.28

    Shockingly sleazy GOP governors: “Knaves, scoundrels, extremists and panderers”
    their failures are killing people—literally by the thousands when it comes to denying Medicaid expansion (over 13,000 in eight Southern states this year)—

    We know kochs are in south Dakota.

    Koch network officials confirmed that they plan to spend $290 million in 2014. *** ...there is a close relationship between the Koch brothers and the Republican Governors Association. In 2010, David Koch wrote a $1 million check to the association, which can take unlimited contributions from individual donors. In 2012, he upped the ante to $2 million. Through June 2014, he has donated $3.75 million while Koch Industries itself has given $525,000.

    meanwhile in the oil patch

    "trying to level the playing field against the Koch brothers and their entrenched special interests,... [w]e know it's an uphill battle and see this as David against the big oil Goliaths. ... NextGen Climate is working in these races for the public interest, while the other side is spending its money on its own economic self-interest."

  3. Steve Sibson 2014.08.28

    Everything in South Dakota is based on what the governor does or doesn't do? Sounds like a dictatorship, not a Constitutional Republic. Anybody have the year that switch was made? Seems to me Janklow had dictatorship characteristics. Was that what did it? So the solution is to be a Democrat in as dictator? What about switching back to the Constitutional Republic?

  4. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.28

    " Anybody have the year that switch was made?"

    Why yes I do Steve. The beginning was sometime just before 1973. SDs legeslatur thought it was being overwhelmed through micromanagement. Dick Kiniep set down with both parties and hammered out what would become the states reorganization to what we have today.

    Before, all expenditures had to go through the legislature, now we have things like the GF&P commission appointed by the governor that serves at the discretion of that governor. With that kind of power in one mans hands the state has become a little more corrupt every year.

    There is some interesting reading from back then.

    The Blindman

  5. Kevin Weiland 2014.08.28

    You forgot one more. I remember when then Gov. Rounds tried to shut down the Black Hills Playhouse but lost the fight in a legal battle. He then sent a state building inspector (who just so happened to be his brother-in-law) to condemn all the structures, forcing it to close down. Shortly thereafter, Governor Rounds diverted 160K dollars for upkeep/grades to Custer State Parks, Valhalla. Kevin Wooster reported for the Journal back then and, as I recall, Valhalla was not available to the general public, but was used for partisan fund-raising events (which is against the SD constitution).

  6. Mike Armstrong 2014.08.28

    I see you didn't mention Janklow's propensity to rape and kill people. Next article?

  7. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.28

    Daily Kos has some excellent information on corruption among Republican governors. Walker in Wisconsin is one of the worst. In fact, his Democratic challenger is ahead by 8 points in the polls.

    Kos' work shows an overall pattern of subverting democracy involving the Republican party, Kochs, Republican leaders like Rove and Norquist and others, and very big businesses.

    What we're seeing in SD is no different from what Walker is doing in Wisconsin, Kasich is Michigan, whatshisname in Florida, Jindal in Louisiana, Christie in New Jersey, Brownback in Kansas, etc.

    Click on hyperlinks fmi.

  8. Donald Pay 2014.08.28

    I don't understand folks who compare and contrast styles of corruption, rather than admitting there's an institutional corruption problem in South Dakota.

    So, Janklow, apparently, had a flair for verbally dressing up his crooked dealings, and for bullying to get his way. To some, that's "vision." I never felt that way then or now, but, hey, if that's how a former state legislator feels that could be why South Dakota has these repeating corruption disasters. Others will prefer Rounds' "nice guy" approach. Quite frankly, both were very poor and very corrupt leaders.

    What's clear to me is that it's an institutional issue, though not really in Dithmer's sense. Before Kneip, there were just smaller fiefdoms of corruption. Kneip cleaned up a lot of it. Providing you had an honest leader, there would have been more accountability. There was supposed to be a modernization of the Legislative Branch, too, but that never happened.

    Unfortunately, after Kneip came Janklow, who was a corrupt bully. Putting a more efficient executive branch in his hands turned out to be terribly bad for the state.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.29

    Good point, Donald: we should never structure a government on the assumption that only good, honest people will win elections.

    Mike, yes, talking about the Janklow legacy is always complicated. At the press event for the Janklow papers, USD poli-sci instructor Mary Pat Pierle said, "We are all better people because of Bill Janklow." Randy Scott's family and many others would disagree with that statement. But on a policy level, I will still agree with Heidepriem: Janklow did things that left a big mark (DSU, Springfield, Citibank). Rounds's administration was marked by utter fecklessness, making no noticeable difference in the course of South Dakota policy or history.

  10. Troy 2014.08.29

    One of the great things about history is after time most put down their partisan/ideological prejudices and look at facts, decisions, and outcomes over a long period of time to make judgement. Personally, I think we are just entering into a period where we can really judge the 2nd term of Janklow (note what Heidepriem mentioned occurred during Janklow's first term).

    I get a kick out of the current assessment/criticism of Rounds is his years of using reserves during his term. Three facts that ideology/politics don't consider:

    1) South Dakota had three items that adversely impacted revenue: A agriculture and general recession, shutdowns of video lottery, and loss of the inheritance tax.

    2) He dedicated more money to education (K-12 on a per student basis beyond inflation and Higher Ed to accommodate expanded programming and growth in students) despite the budget pressures while minimizing general state government growth to below inflation/population growth. If he hadn't used reserves, the biggest impact would have been on education.

    3) When he left office there was more money in reserve than when he came into office. The essence of his reserve spending was using the interest earnings.

    In the end, like Kneip and Janklow, there will be things we look back and criticize about Rounds but also like the Housing Authority and reorg of state government (built upon and in my mind improved by Mickelson) where we praise Kneip, I think the issue above is actually one where history will praise Rounds for his priorities during the reduced revenue period.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.08.29

    I get a kick out of Tories criticizing President Obama for his role as unitary executive but give tyrants like Janklow or kleptublicans like Rounds and Daugaard all the power they can muscle.

  12. Troy 2014.08.29

    P.S. I forgot to mention what I think was Kneip's biggest accomplishment (the modernization of the Retirement System and Investment Council) or Janklow's greatest accomplishment (purchase of the mainline railroad). More than REDI/Economic Development, I think Mickelson's biggest was a more significant reorganization of the structure of state government allowing a better delivery mechanism of state services in every department. Mickelson's reconciliation efforts with Indians will be able to be really judged when all of us are dead.

  13. Lynn 2014.08.29

    Troy I have a passion for history and maybe the question with Governor Mickelson besides the historic reconciliation effort with our Native population is what might have been?

  14. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    "I don't understand folks who compare and contrast styles of corruption, rather than admitting there's an institutional corruption problem in South Dakota."

    I agree 100%. That is why I have been using the phrase, "system of legal corruption". And both political parties are responsible. I am here asking Democrats to stop being deceived, as are the conservatives in the GOP who believe capitalism is conservative. My wake up call was when the NEA gave $1 million to the SD Chamber in protect Pierre's system of legal corruption during the 2008 election cycle. Specifically, IM10.

    So how do we go about fixing the system? Or is that impossible, as the fight is against those with large amounts of money and thereby large amounts of power to make things miserable for those who dare speak out.

  15. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    Two ways to do it, Sibby. 1. Vote 2.Revolt. That's the perennial conundrum for the disenfranchised.

  16. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    Bill, It is a violation of Biblical Christianity to "revolt". And as I have said, those revolting will be hammered by the authorities. And when there are only the 2 Party candidates to vote for, then that means we have no choice, as I have learned, both Parties are controlled by money.

    Anybody else have an idea(s)?

  17. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    Jesus revolted, Sibby. What do you call that thing he did in the temple if not revolt?

  18. Craig 2014.08.29

    Troy, Rounds came into office in January 2003 and served until January 2011. The recession which had the most impact upon our economy didn't hit until late 2007 and well into 2008. I can understand Rounds struggling to balance the budget without tapping into surpluses during a recession, but how does that explain his first term when no recession had even hit?

    Second, you mentioned the loss of the inheritance tax, but this wasn't significant to the state coffers at all. The state abolished our state inheritance tax back in 2000 and thus the primary impact should have occurred long before Rounds was sworn in. Even if there was an issue with a loss of revenue, shouldn't that have been met with a cut in spending? We know that didn't happen and Rounds was guilty of expanding government and increasing spending - not the other way around.

    If we ignore the entire debate about budgets, we have to ask what did Rounds actually accomplish during his time in office? Everyone can look back upon Janklow and name half a dozen things he did that people still remember... but can you do the same for Rounds?

    Rounds signed a bill to ban practically all abortions that the voters then had to work to repeal. He felt the need to fly around the state in an airplane on the state's dime even making excuses for his coincidental trips to cities that just so happened to align with his son's away football games. He was directly involved in the EB-5 fiasco, and he (like pretty much all South Dakota Governors over the past 30 years) left office without addressing teacher pay, education reform, or even bothering to try to acknowledge we are still home to six of the poorest 11 counties in the nation.

    Rounds might be a personable guy, and I have no doubt he will be our next Senator, but the question I have is has he earned it? Rounds can't really run on his record of accomplishments... because frankly he doesn't have any. He could have played golf for eight years and the end result probably would have been the same - no substantive changes to the state and no major issues corrected. No big "wins" to brag about, nothing worthy of a statue being erected, nothing to use as the keystone for a biography - Rounds was elected to lead, but honestly... where was the leadership?

  19. JeniW 2014.08.29

    If I recall correctly, Rounds used the last federal "stimulus" funding to balance the state budget instead of directing the money toward education.

    If it were not for the stimulus money, would he have been able to rightfully claim that he balanced the budget?

    Then Gov. Daugaard claims that HE balanced the budget. So which one really balanced the budget?

  20. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    "What do you call that thing he did in the temple if not revolt?"

    Free Speech. When they came to arrest Him, He could have revolted and had the power to do so. But He didn't. Instead He healed the soldier's ear that got cut off.

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    "Everyone can look back upon Janklow and name half a dozen things he did that people still remember... but can you do the same for Rounds?"

    Rounds & Daugaard don't have to do anything other than continue the system of legal corruption put together by Mickelson and Janklow. They are just puppets.

  22. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    revolt Translate Button
    verb (used without object)
    to break away from or rise against constituted authority, as by open rebellion; cast off allegiance or subjection to those in authority; rebel; mutiny:
    to revolt against the present government.
    to turn away in mental rebellion, utter disgust, or abhorrence (usually followed by from):
    He revolts from eating meat.

  23. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    If the Christian movement wasn't a revolt, what was it then?
    I stand by my answer. You have two options, vote or revolt. Not voting is not revolt, it's surrender,

  24. Kal Lis 2014.08.29


    I don't want to get off track too far, but I do believe there is another option, for lack of a better term I'll call it the Amish option.

    The disaffected can set up their own communities, ignore the rest of the world, and nurture themselves with the fruits of their own labor.

    Granted such communities have not had a successful history in the United States but political and intellectual rebellions frequently collapse on themselves as well. Some united, talented, and dedicated folks might make it work.

    I'm doubt Sibby trusts enough people not to covet his material possessions to live in such a community, but perhaps he could find a few farmers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers to set up the Utopia of Sibson.

  25. Lynn 2014.08.29

    Kal so instead of SimCity this utopian community for Steve could be called SibCity or SibbyCity?

  26. JeniW 2014.08.29

    Was George Washington a Christian (however that is defined?)

    George participated in leading some parts of the American Revolutionary War.

    Since voting against England's stronghold would not have been useful; people revolted by going into war, and protesting at what is called "Boston Tea Party."

    Jesus surrendered to the will of those who disliked him, and to those who for whatever reasons, failed to protest his murder.

  27. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    Kal Lis, you are correct of course, but only to the degree the government will allow it Think Sibby would make a good Hutterite? ;-)

  28. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    SibCity! Excellent!

  29. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    Kal, The Hutterite socialists are as much responsible for establishing Big Ag as the capitalists, which just goes to show that capitalism is some form of socialism.

  30. Lynn 2014.08.29

    Steve How would you create SibCity? How would the government be and what would be your priorities?

  31. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    "Was George Washington a Christian (however that is defined?)"

    No he was a freemasonic universalist, which means he was anti-Christian as he rejected the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, as does Deb.

    So now back on topic: did Mickelson and Janklow set up this system of legal corruption, and then Rounds & Daugaard are just puppets of those who control that system? Does that explain the view that Rounds did nothing?

  32. JeniW 2014.08.29

    I do not know of Mickelson contributed to the current corruption of Rounds and Daugaard's administration or not. I was a newbie to SD at the time that Mickelson was governor. All I remember of Mickelson was his efforts to try to create a positive relationship with the North American Indians living in South Dakota, and how quick Janklow destroyed everything that Mickelson tried to accomplish.

    Yes, I believe Janklow created some corruption, and I also think that Rounds added to that, and so has Daugaard. I do not think that Rounds or Daugaard are merely puppets. Real puppets do not make decisions, they are incapable of doing so. Rounds and Daugaard have made decisions to add to the corruption, so they are, IMO, not puppets.

  33. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.29


    Two mules for every boy

    I bought a '30 Amish buggy and we call it a woody
    SibCity, here we come

    You know it's not very cherry, it's an oldie but a goody
    SibCity, here we come

    Its gota big back seat and a rear window
    And it sure gets me where I wanna go

    And we're goin' to SibCity, 'cause it's two to one
    You know we're goin' to SibCity, gonna have some fun
    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity, 'cause it's two for one
    You know we're goin' to SibCity, gonna have some fun, now

    Two mules for every boy

    You see they never roll the streets up 'cause there's nothing to be rollen
    SibCity, here we come

    You know they're either out farmen or they got a party growin
    Sib City, here we come

    Well, with two Missouri Reds for every guy
    And all you gotta do is bring your greenbacks by

    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity, 'cause it's two to one
    You know we're goin' to Sib City, gonna have some fun
    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity 'cause it's two to one
    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity, gonna have some fun, now
    Two mules for every boy

    And if my woody breaks down on me somewhere on the main route
    SibCity, here we come

    I'll strap my shoes on my feet and hitch a ride in my black suit
    SibCity, here we come

    And when I get to SibCity I'll be shootin' the bull
    And checkin' out the parties where the Amish girls go

    And we're goin' to SibCity, 'cause it's two to one
    You know we're goin' to SibCity, gonna have some fun
    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity, 'cause it's two to one
    Ya, we're goin' to SibCity, gonna have some fun, now
    Two mules for every
    Two mules for every boy

    The Blindman

  34. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.29

    You haven't lived until you park beside an Amish buggy at a hitching post, at Walmart.

    The Blindman

  35. Jessie 2014.08.29

    Let all here note that fact that Sibby answered a religious question and then returned to topic. Maybe there is hope for us all. Way to go, Sibby!

  36. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    LOL, I can see the video now, Dithmer.

    Mike Love and the Wilson brothers in long beards, black suits with string ties, and gleaming white Fender axes choppin' out hot licks behind the ol' Sibby woodshed.

    Pretty mommas bringin' elderberry wine jugs and fresh cooked Amish cream pies.

    Party hardy, brother Bill.

  37. Lynn 2014.08.29

    SibCity Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Sorry that is Lake Wobegon.

  38. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    At the end of the vid, the Federal Revenuers come in to bust 'em, and out come the pitchforks and rolling pins. Ending scene shows "The Man" gettin' chased off down the long, long, long dirt road. Priceless.

  39. Troy 2014.08.29


    We were affected most adversely during the ag recession at the beginning of Rounds administration and the robust ag economy at the end of Janklow mitigated the inheritance tX loss.

    Again, to my point the most relevant historical assessment will occur in ten years as we are just now getting real perspective on Janklows second stint.

  40. Bill Fleming 2014.08.29

    I thought one of Round's accomplishments was to facilitate the acquisition and funding of the physics lab at Homestake. That could turn out to be a pretty big deal someday... and actually, it is right now, isn't it?

  41. larry kurtz 2014.08.29

    Mike Rounds might be eligible for parole in ten years.

  42. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    Troy, would a true conservative Republican raise sales tax just to put into the pockets of special interests? From the Mercer link, we learn who was the father of crony capitalism in South Dakota:

    The message that George Speaker Mickelson then brought to South Dakota from his first days as governor was creating jobs.

    The Legislature agreed to raise the state sales tax by 1 cent for one year to create the REDI Fund to make low-interest loans to businesses seeking to add primary jobs especially in manufacturing.

    The Legislature also approved the Future Fund, diverting a small portion of the unemployment insurance taxes paid by businesses and putting it into an account for the governor’s use. Mickelson’s original intent for that money was to rebuild scientific infrastructure in the state’s universities and colleges.

    Mickelson accepted a challenge from 3M, which had plants in Brookings and Aberdeen, and from the foundation of one of its executives, and raised more than $5 million in match to establish the South Dakota Community Foundation.

    All of those remain today as key parts of South Dakota’s economic infrastructure.

  43. JeniW 2014.08.29

    Was it George's intention to introduce corruption to the state, or because of his death and no longer being able to do anything more, that Janklow became an opportunist to inject his corruption?

    I am not sure that I want to credit or blame Mickelson because I do not know enough about him or his administration to know. I cannot go by one or two individual's opinions to know if he was a good or bad guy.

  44. Donald Pay 2014.08.29

    JeniW: I, too, find it interesting that we skip over Mickelson. I opposed many of the things Mickelson did, and I certainly thought his mining policy led to a Superfund site, but I never thought he was personally corrupt. Sure, his political bread was buttered mostly by the business interests, and the long arc of his administration bent toward serving those interests, but he also had some strong personal beliefs that wouldn't allow him to totally sell out.

    On mining he tried to steer a middle course, agreeing to major improvements in mining laws and regulations (many of which have been reduced since then), but it turned out he needed to have far tougher laws and regulations than he or his advisors were willing to promulgate.

    On the plus side, Mickelson certainly put water development policy, which had been a controversial and corrupting issue under Kneip and Janklow, on a transparent footing. He put to rest a decades long war over water policy.

    Mickelson got stuck with the fallout from Janklow's sewage ash fiasco, and didn't handle that well. And, he didn't do that great a job on the hog farm issue. However, he took on business interests, like Williams Pipeline, when necessary, turning them into the EPA's Superfund program when the company failed to do the right thing.

    The Lonetree dump controversy occurred during his administration. It's an odd thing that he was on both sides of that issue at least twice. He started out as an opponent, became a reluctant supporter, turned again into a very reluctant opponent, and ended up having his DENR support it, while tried to hide.

    Anyway, his reconciliation efforts and some of his Families First policies were something that showed his heart.

    And another point deserves some consideration. Mickelson had a more evenly divided Legislature to work with. Democrats were able to have an influence on the Mickelson administration.

  45. larry kurtz 2014.08.29

    No doubt Tom Lawrence and others are poring over the Janklow papers to find evidence that Wild Bill perused Mitsubishi blueprints looking for a way to sabotage an aircraft.

  46. Steve Sibson 2014.08.29

    "Was it George's intention to introduce corruption to the state"

    JeniW, I am not saying that he did. I am saying that the economic development agenda, even though many believe the Soviet model of a planned economy is beneficial, does set up a system that centralizes decision making, thereby picks winners and losers, and is prone to corruption.

  47. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.29

    As far as I'm concerned, Janklow's legacy is that he was a bully and a disgraced congressman that had to resign his office because his "above the law" attitude that contributed to the death of Randy Scott.
    Rounds' legacy was to be Northern Beef Packers, as it turns out, it just maybe.

  48. lesliengland 2014.08.29

    didn't janklow pack the minerals board right before the heap-leach gold mine hearings?

  49. Donald Pay 2014.08.29

    The interesting thing about Janklow was he initially was kind of tough on the mining companies. There were a lot of reasons for his distrust of the mining industry, but one of which is borders on this topic: a lot of his close friends and supporters had invested in property near Terry Peak. These folks were afraid their property would be worthless and their recreational activities would be curtailed by mining.

    After he left office, Janklow went to work for the mining industry, but in office he was not overly friendly to the. He nominated Whitewood Creek as a Superfund site. He vastly increased the severance tax (later he dropped it). He directed his DWNR (now DENR) to oppose the first permit for Wharf Mining. He may have been trying to pack the Board of Minerals and Environment with opponents to mining for that hearing, but if he was trying to do that, he didn't get it done. I do remember him reaching out to the environmental movement at one point for suggestions for BME nominees, although he didn't take them. The problem was South Dakota had fairly weak laws and regulations at the time, and Janklow didn't, like Mickelson did a few years later, impose a moratorium on permitting until regulations could be upgraded. That would have been the smart move.

  50. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.29

    Roger perfectly described Janklow. He was cruel . . . on his best days. It so baffles me that people can ignore his cruelty and arrogance, which resulted in pain, humiliation, and even death. I'd call it "Janklow's Collateral Damage."

    I detest that man.

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