You want to talk about recycling old news? Forget Pat Powers's blogular burpage trying to distract us from a new and important piece of the Rounds Administration's facilitation of Joop Bollen's rule-breaking exploitation of the public trust. Let's look at KELO TV's late-to-the-party coverage of EB-5.
Tonight KELO reporter Ben Dunsmoor whoop-dee-hoos "his" discovery of a letter from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that he asserts may have led to the federal investigation of South Dakota's use of the EB-5 investment program. "His" discovery results from a review of over 700 pages KELO received from a FOIA request this summer.
700 pages, and all KELO can find is recyclage of a story Bob Mercer broke with much deeper context ten months ago:
[Texas lawyer Kirby] Roberts said in an interview Wednesday that he contacted the office of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in late 2012 with the same information he had given to the FBI.
Roberts said he did so because it appeared to him that the FBI investigation had paused or stopped in its investigation and wasn’t looking at the Huron plant.
Shortly after receiving Roberts’ information, Grassley’s office sent a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Feb. 7, 2013, regarding “an EB-5 Regional Investment Center in South Dakota.” The only Regional Investment Center was the South Dakota Regional Center based in Aberdeen.
Grassley included a letter from another person with his letter. That second letter hasn’t been publicly released by Grassley’s office. The public copy of the Grassley letter has that person’s name blacked out three times.
Grassley’s letter told USCIS: “(Blacked out) has outlined possible violations associated with the EB-5 program. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide pertaining to this matter. Please contact (blacked out) with questions regarding this letter” [Bob Mercer, "FBI Probe of Meat Plants Evolved from Church Dispute," Rapid City Journal, 2013.11.15].
Mercer was tracing the evolution of the federal investigations from Roberts's investigation of matters pertaining to the Hutterville Hutterite dispute and connections to the Dakota Provisions turkey processing plant in Huron. KELO reports none of that fascinating angle of the story. Dunsmoor only spices the story with mention of Senator Grassley's political affiliation with South Dakota's sagging Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds, an angle already spotlighted on this blog since November 1, 2013 (see here, here, and here).
Dunsmoor committed similar rescoopage on August 18 when KELO ran his story on the exclusive no-bid contract Rounds's economic development office handed to Joop Bollen the day after Bollen quit his state job at NSU. Dunsmoor's story addressed the same details I reported on December 12, 2013. The only value Dunsmoor added to my reporting was getting Rounds spokesman Rob Skjonsberg to trot out the claim that EB-5 added over $600 million to South Dakota's economy... which seems about as reliable as Rounds's claim that he'd raise $9 million for his Senate campaign.
By no means should KELO ignore the EB-5 story just because Bob Mercer or I or other reporters discover and explain certain details of it first. It is an important and complicated story, and as many reporters as possible should be telling as many South Dakotans as possible about it. But there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Had KELO paid better attention, they wouldn't be playing catch-up ten months later.