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Bollen’s Contract with SDRC Inc. Broke State Conflict-of-Interest Law

Hey, you know that contract Mike Rounds let Joop Bollen sign with himself? No big deal—it's just a misdemeanor:

Officer's interest in public contract as misdemeanor. No public officer who is authorized to sell or lease any property, or make any contract in the officer's official capacity may become voluntarily interested individually in any sale, lease, or contract, directly or indirectly with such entity. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor unless the act is exempted by law [South Dakota Codified Law 3-16-7].

Bollen's immediate superiors, Northern State University president James Smith and then-Board of Regents director Tad Perry, say they had no idea Bollen owned (Bollen was) the company to which he outsourced the functions of his state office. But the Rounds Administration knew of Bollen's ownership full well when it approved Bollen's privatization of the state's EB-5 visa investment program.

Try out your smell tester: suppose your local mayor bought a garbage truck and signed a contract giving his new garbage company the city's trash business. Suppose your school business manager formed a painting business and hired herself to paint the high school cafeteria. Suppose Mike Rounds had signed a contract with his own insurance company putting state employees' life insurance under his personal management. There'd be more than a partisan uproar. The press and everyone else would freak out. Employees of the state lottery get fired for doing such a thing. Public employees just don't use their public power to place money in their private pockets.

But that's what Joop Bollen did. Even if it's just a misdemeanor, Bollen broke state conflict-of-interest law, just as he broke Board of Regents policies and may have broken state banking laws. Bollen operated South Dakota's EB-5 program with obvious disregard for lots of rules...

...and Mike Rounds kept rewarding him with contracts and opportunities for cash. Mike Rounds keeps rewarding him with political cover. Why?


  1. Roger Elgersma 2014.09.10

    People in government like to use the phrase, 'serving the public.' Taking a part of government that looks like it could be very profitable and using it for ones self is hugely selfish which is the opposite of the definition of serving.

  2. larry kurtz 2014.09.10

    Before it gets deleted:

    SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 AT 9:00 AM
    Here are some questions that need answered:
    1) Why was the Benda Death taken out of the local Sheriff’s hands by the US Marshall (who only deals with fugitives?)

    2) Why was there no forensics taken at the death scene…why can’t anyone see the pictures…or the autopsy? Why won’t the first person on the death scene talk any more (Benda’s brother inlaw)?

    3) Why was the death certificate generated by Chad Peters, an DEPUTY coroner (They aren’t required to have ANY death scene training by the state)?

    4) Why is the dead man being villain-ized, when NBP still praises him for doing a great job (for 2 years of work getting NBP out of the red and into a functioning plant….and collecting his $225K per year)?

    5) Why aren’t the hundreds of Communist Chinese that get their citizenship (for themselves and their family) vetted by SD before they plunk down over $500K …do we even know if they are operatives coming into our country?

    6) How many other projects failed and wasted our money and Communist Chinese money (the Chinese are a singe party nation and NO one has their “Own” money…if you are rich there it is because of their government…kind of like SD government…..single party rule)?

    7) Did any of the Communist and Koreans get their money back as they were promised in the EB-5 program?

    8) Has anyone talked about the FAILED dairies? FAILED wind turbine repair business in Howard, SD? All the illegal immigrants in these “successful ” EB-5 projects (oh yeah, they are not illegal, they just come and go from Mexico with different names and SS#s each time)?

    I gotta go…can’t believe I wasted time on this rag ….I should know better than to grace Little pp’s column with my knowledge"

  3. Curt 2014.09.10

    Will someone please explain how all this state money (OUR money) slipped past the people who are entrusted by the voters with the statutory responsibility for ensuring that it is spent legally and properly accounted for? I refer not just to the drones and political appointees who populate these offices, but to the elected State Auditor and State Treasurer. I realize we have nothing but political hacks in those positions, but seriously - who is minding the store?

  4. Curt 2014.09.10

    Correction to my previous post.
    That responsibility to safeguard public funds is constitutional - not statutory. It is required by the State Constitution these men swore to uphold when they were ushered into their respective offices.

  5. mike from iowa 2014.09.10


    EB-5 investments are considered at-risk and no expectation of a return can be guaranteed. However,some Regional Centers do return some investments. Each RC is different.

  6. Rorschach 2014.09.10

    Why hasn't the Attorney General's Office charged the Joopster with Theft by Deception, SDCL 22-30A-3? The theft here is over $100,000, so the Joopster's theft would be a class 3 felony (up to 15 years prison, $30,000 fine + restitution) under SDCL 22-30A-17.1.

    And I still want to know how much Rounds has been paid by the Joopster since Rounds left office. Somebody needs to put that question to him, if someone can locate the spider hole he's hiding in.

    There's blood in the water, and the Rounds campaign is in crisis mode. The Attorney General also comes off looking very bad by his continually saying, "move along, nothing to see here, move along!" Marty Jackley's old line that these are federal offenses so there's nothing for the AG do won't work anymore. Maybe the Democrats should call for appointment of an independent prosecutor. Mark Meierhenry? Dave Gienapp?

  7. mikeyc, that's me! 2014.09.10

    And while we're at it, whatever became of Daugards much-touted trip to China a while back? I believe it was about the same time that Kristi Noem was taking selfies on the Great Wall. He made a big deal out of it before he left, then we never heard another word about it.

  8. Curt 2014.09.10

    Mikeye - Are you sure he came back?
    And by the way ... remember what he was touting as his principal accomplishment as Lt Gov when he was campaigning for Gov? I do. It was 'economic devt.' Yet he expects us to believe he somehow knew nothing of the apparent fraud and malfeasance that seems to have been rampant in the Gov's Office of Econ Devt? If we re-elect him this year knowing what we know now, we deserve whatever we get.

  9. Jim 2014.09.10

    Those attempting to defend this fiasco are morally and intellectually dishonest.

  10. Jim 2014.09.10

    ...and let's not forget the Banking Commission are all appointees of Mike and Dennis. I think the chair headed Daugaard's transition team and was part of the 'Epoch Star is not a bank' ruling. Don't expect anything timely from them, or anything that might reflect unfavorably upon Mike or Dennis. Mike would probably like to hang Joop out to dry on this one, but he can't because Joop would take Mike, Harv and Sveen down with him. That is why Joop is being granted protection in the form of political cover.

  11. jerry 2014.09.10

    At the risk of sounding negative on all of this, if the attorney general for the state of South Dakota will not address all of the issues regarding this corruption, as he seems to be a part of it, then it should be put in the federal governments hands. I find the silence deafening from Brendan Johnson's office.

  12. Craig 2014.09.10

    Jerry, I think Brendan Johnson is walking very softly as to not appear to be partisan. He has nothing to gain by pursuing this in the courtroom of public opinion as it would only encourage his detractors and convince them he is chasing after Republicans just before an election.

    Just as Jackley has to be careful until after the votes are tallied, Johnson has to do the same. The appearance of partisanship or a conflict of interest would only hurt the judicial process. I have no doubt if there is a case to be had, and if the evidence supports it - we will ultimately hear all about it. We just won't hear about it prior to November 4th.

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.09.10

    Jerry, are you not buying Patrick Duffy's explanation on that?

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    If you're in here or anybody that knows how, can you post the KELOLand story on how Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa may have started the EB-5 investigation in South Dakota?

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Thanks Larry,
    It now wonder Grassley has been campaigning for Rounds, he probably figures he owes Rounds for putting the target on Rounds' back.
    Interesting to note that KELO has actually been conducting an investigation of Rounds.
    Maybe there will still be an October Surprise.

  16. jerry 2014.09.10

    I am not buying anything on this right now. Walking softly will only get you so far and then you realize you are in quicksand. At this stage of the game, with all that is known and all who knows it, what is the point to act coy? Of course this is political. All one has to do is look at the players and how this scheme was hatched to know that. This was a sitting governor, his lt. governor, cabinet officials to include the sitting attorney general. All of those involved are either elected officials or appointed officials by the elected officials.

    Why are you any more guilty on November 4 than you are on November 5 for crimes done prior to November 4? I could not even see the reluctance to go after Dr. Bos for her issues. Here, there is a huge amount of taxpayer money that has been stolen, this is different.

    Patrick Duffy is an attorney that has no power to do anything but chat. He may be one helluva chatter, but in the end, that is all. From the looks of it, nothing much has been bought forth since his debut in front of the cameras. This crew he is up against are going to stick together just like other mobsters, they know the game as they think they are lawyers too.

  17. Bill Fleming 2014.09.10

    I think Duffy's caution was that it is against the rules to release any information about an investigation that might influence the result of an election. If there is a case pending and Johnson says anything, the case could get thrown out. I think that's how it goes anyway.

  18. jerry 2014.09.10

    So if I am a criminal and the law is coming after me, I can just tell them that they are gonna have to wait until after November 4 because if I am arrested or indicted, I may influence the republicans chances of a fair election, works for me.

    In the meantime, why are they even questioning Joop Bollen involvement on anything if we are so concerned about the election process? This is certainly not new information that has just appeared, it has been out there for some time. If an experienced blogger like Cory can find this information on a shoestring budget of sorts, why can't our taxpayer funded judicial system do the same? In fact, we could argue that for Watergate as that was criminal, fraudulent and for sure political as it involved an elected president of the United States. My concern as a taxpayer is not that this little weasel gets into the senate, it is that all of this is going to be forgotten conveniently after November 4. Marty Jackley has had the opportunity to address this and to tell us where the money went. Benda may have gotten away with a few thousand dollars, but he did not steal the millions that are missing. As Jackley does not want to go after his benefactors, then it is up to Brendan Johnson get after it with Bollen or tell us all why he is off limits. The last I looked, there is no doubt about a case against this guy for any number of charges. Some big and some not so big, but all would stick. Time to start the process and stop giving Johnson a pass.

  19. Jane Smith 2014.09.11

    Conservatively 80 projects (per Mike Rounds) times $50,000 equals $4,000,000. This does not account for the many individual applicants fees, which would exponentially increase the amount at issue. Revenue for Joop Bollen equals lost revenue for SD. And it's just a misdemeanor in SD. And your trying to raise the sales tax 1/2 penny to easy teachers pay gap. If Joop Bollen gets off unscathed, it will be the biggest insult to the people of SD morally, intellectually and economically. And BTW, at least those illegal aliens put in a days worth of hard labor. What has Joop Bollen given SD in return for all that pillaging? (Did you finally get that he was philanthropic in another state so as to keep his burgeoning wealth hidden from SD?).

  20. Jane Smith 2014.09.11

    BTW, what is Joop Bollen's immigration status? How did he get his Green Card? Was it via EB5?

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    Jane, Bollen came to America pre-EB-5, as a high school exchange student. I have not seen press establishing his current immigration status.

  22. Jane Smith 2014.09.11

    Question was posed facetiously. It would be mostly interest to know how he attained his Green card.

  23. Rocket J Squirrel 2014.09.18

    Another scum-filled immigration scandal. Here's another one - why is it that in the Shrine of Democracy, Mt Rushmore, you get your ice cream served by Chinese temporary workers? We have a huge unemployed population in this state, many of whom are Native Americans. In New Zealand, the Maori have first preference in hiring at all national parks. Here, at Wall Drug (no Indians work there), at Custer State Park lodges (no American Indians, but a lot of Indonesians), at Mt Rushmore, we have huge numbers of foreign workers, while American citizens in South Dakota are looking for jobs. WHY IS THAT ALLOWED? Why does Xanterra (Park concessionaire) have a preference for foreign hiring?

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