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D.C. Super PAC Opens Fire on Rounds with $200K EB-5 Ad

One EB-5 investor could pay for a response two and a half times bigger....

Every Voice Action, a Washington D.C.-based super PAC formerly known as Public Action Campaign Fund, has launched a $200,000 ad campaign criticizing GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds for corruption in his economic development program. I eagerly await the video, which is playing on KELO, KOTA, KDLT, and KTTW. The Pierre Capital Journal brings us the text; I annotate with my gauge of the accuracy of each shot:

  1. "It’s the Mike Rounds Citizenship-for-Sale Scheme." Error: The program sells EB-5 visas, green cards that make permanent residency possible, for $500,000 invested in a U.S. business project that produces at least 10 jobs. One does not get citizenship for investing in an EB-5 project.
  2. "It all started with an exclusive no-bid contract." ***CAH Correction! [21:56 CDT] Contextually incorrect, but factually true! The ad cites Ben Dunsmoor's August 18, 2014, report on the no-bid contract the Rounds Administration gave SDRC Inc. As I reported eight months earlier, that contract happened on December 22, 2009, well after the EB-5 scheme was already up and rolling and well after the director of that scheme had broken numerous laws and policies. However, the state issued another no-bid contract to SDRC Inc. at its inception almost two years earlier, on January 15, 2008. But we've only got 25 seconds of ad left! The point: Rounds Administration approved one no-bid contract, contractor broke all sorts of rules, Rounds Adminstration reward contractor with second no-bid contract.
  3. "Governor Mike Rounds gave his friend a no-bid contract to sell EB-5 green cards to the highest bidder." Closer: the only quibble here is that investors do not bid for EB-5 visas. In South Dakota, they all paid $500,000, plus tens of thousands of dollars in fees to Mike Rounds's friends.
  4. "Now, there’s half-million dollars unaccounted for…" Well, actually, we know where it went: Richard Benda's pocket.
  5. "’s under federal investigation..." True, says Senator Tidemann.
  6. "…and taxpayers are left with millions in EB-5 liability." True.
  7. "Mike Rounds. Rich foreigners get green cards. Cronies make a profit. And South Dakota … gets stuck with the bill.” True, although I get the impression South Dakota voters aren't moved by the rich foreigners line. Cronyism and money coming out of our pockets—now that will ring the bells.

That out-state players are willing to spend money on the EB-5 issue sends a grim signal for Republicans: beyond our borders, Mike Rounds is looking weak, and EB-5 looks like an issue that can whittle down his smaller-than-expected lead.

I just wish those out-state players would check with me first to vet their text and make sure they are focusing their precious 30 seconds most accurately.

Update 16:36 CDT: And here's the video:


  1. Rorschach 2014.09.18

    1. Would be more accurate to say "permanent residency" for sale rather than "citizenship". But who in the public knows the difference between those two terms?

    2. True. The cronies make a profit "it" started with a no-bid contract.

    4. Far Understated. There's over $100 million unaccounted for. But this can't be adequately explained in a 30 second ad.

    This ad cuts a few corners in the interest of getting to its overall point in 30 seconds.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    The facts and timeline of the Rounds Scandal need no exaggeration, the wording needs to be precise.
    The only addition I would have is to use "Communist Chinese Investors".
    This is South Dakota 1950's, they still hate commies.

  3. John Tsitrian 2014.09.18

    My perspective and feedback tell me that Pressler will gain big from all this because Pubs disenchanted with Rounds will feel much more comfortable about voting for LP rather than RW.

  4. Jenny 2014.09.18

    Don't ban me from here Cory, but even Nate Silver has Rounds with a 92% chance of winning, which is even more than MNs Franken, which is at 90% :(

  5. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    New Rounds campaign slogan: "The bucks stop at Joop's."
    Rounds' EB-5 campaign strategy: "Joop-a-Dope."
    Rounds' favorite 2 Beatle Songs: "Help" and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."

    Your turn, Dithmer. :-)

  6. Lynn 2014.09.18


    Rounds slogan: Don't blame me! I can't know everything that goes on!

  7. Lynn 2014.09.18

    Larry did you get video with that Dem/EB-5/Argus presser? Dave Montgomery tweeted that Mike Myers and Ryan Gaddy were at the presser. I sure hope they didn't try to hijack another presser.

  8. Jenny 2014.09.18

    Here's a Rounds slogan - "Nope, it's not about Joop!"'

  9. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Jenny, double-check that. Nate's old number on Rounds used to be in the high 90's but it's been moving down. Currently it's at 89% His most recent comments on the race hint that the race may be coming into play.

    "SurveyUSA also discovered that, if Pressler were to drop out, Rounds would lead a one-on-one against Weiland by only 2 percentage points, 44 percent to 42 percent. Races with viable third party candidates (see Pressler) tend to be more fluid than your normal Democrat vs. Republican Senate race (see Pressler’s 8-point jump)."

  10. Wayne Gilbert 2014.09.18

    What will we learn from Joop's written questions? Today's news tells us that Joop applied to the feds for approval of the privatization, but didn't disclose that he was the guy to whom it was being privatized. So Rounds says he didn't know but here is an interesting detail: Rounds wrote a letter of support asking the feds to approve the privatization! If he is telling the truth about his lack of knowledge, it means that he wrote a letter asking that a state-run program be privatized without asking anything about the private party which was taking over. I think that is disturbing.

  11. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Rick W's new slogan: "Weiland, Yup. Rounds, Joop."

  12. mike from iowa 2014.09.18

    I,Marion Michael Rounds,am not a crook and to prove you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore,Joop Bollen is my kid's dog-Checkers.

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Wayne, kind of a "don't ask, don't tell" situation?

  14. mike from iowa 2014.09.18

    This is not your ancient ancestors South Dakota.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Wayne, where can we find the Rounds letter supporting privatization of EB-5? The date of the letter would be interesting.

  16. Rorschach 2014.09.18

    I think Rounds knew that $550,000 of that $1 million check he was giving to NBP was going to be passed along to SDRC, Inc. to pay Benda's salary. I think that was actually the reason Rounds he arranged the $1 million corporate welfare - so that Benda could transition to a cushy job in the private sector. And I think it was cha-ching time for Rounds too. SDCR, Inc. was going to be a cash cow for Rounds and a few of his friends after he left office. How much did Rounds get paid?

    John Tsitrian is right that Pressler stands in good position to gain votes from a Rounds electoral collapse. But nobody should write off Weiland. This race is up for grabs, because I just don't see Rounds making any gains between now and November. He's got his hands full just to keep his poll numbers where they are as this scandal blows up in his face.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    I can't wait to see this ad.
    I've also add another consideration to my thinking, it would be great to have the be precise about the facts, but that is not is always the way ads work whether they are for a product, service, or politics.
    The Republicans will dissect the ad and call Weiland dishonest, never mind their own deceptive advertising, but it will bring attention to the Rounds Scandal and the corruption of his administration. Let them argue about the content of the ad, as long as it gets people talking and asking questions.

  18. Slynn 2014.09.18

    I don't think Republicans are going to go to the reinvented liberal, Obama-loving Pressler. I think Howie will get the boost. But, perhaps Pressler, opportunist that he is, will now tack right.

  19. larry kurtz 2014.09.18


    @ArgusMontgomery @argusleader video not working?

    @argusleader 3h
    @larry_kurtz @ArgusMontgomery We are having technical difficulties. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  20. larry kurtz 2014.09.18


    Duffy calls the privatization of #eb5 a "derangedly corrupt thing."

  21. larry kurtz 2014.09.18

    bill: you're still active @boiledowl just follow @ArgusMontgomery

  22. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Thanks Larry. That was tweet of you.

  23. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Not much there other than a reminder of why I hate to go on Twitter. ;-)

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.18

    Slogan Rounds staff wishes he'd adopted sooner: "Tell Joop nope, dope!"

  25. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Just watched, woefully inadequate.

    This PAC needs to work with Cory and the Madville faithful.

  26. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    CH: "I just wish those out-state players would check with me first to vet their text and make sure they are focusing their precious 30 seconds most accurately."

    Drop 'em a line, Cory. :-)

  27. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Meanwhile, Pat Powers and Dick Wadhams over on the Dump Site are having a hissy fit, as expected, for Rick taking "liberal dark money"

  28. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    hah hah hah, liberal dark money.

  29. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Wadhams has lost it. If I were Pat Powers, I'd be embarrassed to have to put that up. Gotta pay the bills I suppose. LOL.

  30. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    No kidding Bill and leslie.

    Naturally the implication is that Rounds, sleazy Pat Powers, and Dick Wadhams would never never do such a thing (holding back laugh).

    We don't need this bunch to feign their outrage over this ad, we need them have real outrage over the Rounds Scandal.

  31. bearcreekbat 2014.09.18

    I don't know - it still seems like Rounds might be positioned to bleed off some Pressler votes.

  32. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    It's just so numbnutz dumb.

    Wadham's claims the ad obviously supports Weiland.
    It doesn't say anything about Weiland.
    So where's the obvious part?
    The ad works just as well for Pressler and Howie.

    He claims Rick isn't saying anything.
    Neither is Larry. Or Gordon.
    So why would Rick have anything to say?
    It's not his ad. It's a PAC ad.
    Rick can't say anything about it.
    Neither can any of the candidates.
    That's supposedly Wadham's whole point.
    So (as per Kurtz) pick a lane, DICK.

    And then the "dark money" thing.
    Anything to try to keep his audience's mind off EB-5.
    THAT's the real dark money.
    And everybody knows it.

    Including Wadhams.

    (I thought he was supposed to be good at this. :-)

  33. grudznick 2014.09.18

    What about Mr. Rounds' girl friends getting cushy jobs?

  34. Bill Fleming 2014.09.18

    Do tell, grudz. Were you one of them?

  35. grudznick 2014.09.18

    Bill, you know that I am far too old for Mr. Rounds. He is not interested in my bits. He likes longer, white stringy hair, not the bald and gnarly.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Leave it to grudz to fill in the missing piece of the Rounds Scandal, SEX

  37. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    hope so jerry. i dont know the rules to this stuff but would this be a way for harry reid to signal he is getting in the game nationally behind rick, without having to walk-back previous statements?

  38. jerry 2014.09.18

    Harry should enlist Joop Bollen, word has it that he is a master at concealing money transactions. In fact he is so good at what he does, everyone is absolutely clueless, even those who directed him to do it. He is marvelous as they say in republican power circles.

  39. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    hahaha. i just hope now we have harry's attention. bring in the battleship. we are gonna need it

  40. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Harry Reid needs to shut the hell up about our senate race.
    Rick doesn't need his mouth or his money.
    At this point, Harry would be a detriment to Rick's campaign.

  41. jerry 2014.09.18

    Maybe you are correct Roger. Think of this though, Rounds would have to spend money to bitch and moan about how Harry is this and how Harry is that. All Rick has to do is say why is Rounds directing his powder at Harry? What is Rounds so deathly afraid of? Rounds was as cool as a cucumber until the EB-5 spilled over into national news. I would rub the arrogant little twerps nose in his soiled surroundings to remind voters of the Rounds corruption administration. Maybe even show that his sidekick Daugaard is not as pure as the driven snow either on this. Killing two birds with one stone always makes sense to a hungry hunter with limited resources. Who knows, maybe he would debate to try and save his miserable hide.

  42. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Here's the deal Jerry, Republicans have been indoctrinated to hate Reid, there are also more than a few Democrats that don't like him, including me.

    How often have you heard Republicans use that phrase, "Obama, Reid, and Pelosi"? It is so ingrained in them it is part of their DNA.

    I'd rather have Rick go to Washington not beholden to Harry or anyone else for that matter.

    Rick can pull this off without Harry and I hope he refuses Reid's support, if it comes down to it.

  43. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    I appreciate your perspective, Roger. Never really understood the whole Stephanie/Rick heartburn w/ Reid. I have to believe they know what they are doing up top. This may be one of THE crucial senate races. btw-my shot was against grudz, not you, a few minutes ago i hope was clear.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Thanks leslie, I knew your comment was directed at grudz.

    Harry has a real infatuation will Stephanie and is pouting and taking it out on Rick for her not running this year.

    The oddity here is that Stephanie has pretty much always been a Blue Dog Democrat, not exactly a perfect fit for the Democratic Party.

  45. Joe 2014.09.18

    It is easy to attack Harry Reid, but you have to understand where he was coming from. He was convincing Tim Johnson and his crew to make sure Brendan didn't run, in an effort to recruit Stephanie and then Weiland, who had ran 2 pretty poor campaigns in the past just steps in and says he is the choice and Stephanie shouldn't run.

    Reid doesn't care about how often Stephanie would vote with him, all he cares about is her winning and voting for him as majority leader.

    As for the ad, its alright, it will help, however I still think they are going the wrong direction. Get real people who have lost money (vendors, contractors, workers, etc) from these EB-5 projects and have them say how much money they lost. Real faces works.

    The other thing I do is I hammer the Mike Rounds knew about Bollen doing illegal actions, yet still continued to use him for another 3 years.

    I also hammer his budgets as governor, his airplane use, his federal funds being funneled to other things.

    I could write a million ads against Rounds, it really wouldn't be that hard. Honestly if a SuperPac wants to put a million into the race, you could run 3-4 ads at $200k+ a piece and really make some headway

  46. SLynn 2014.09.19

    Joe, I think your idea of talking to real people affected by EB5 is good.
    One thing I would point out about your comment is that Weiland never said Stephanie shouldn't run. There are two stories, depending on what you believe. The first is Stephanie's own words when she said that Weiland running never affected her decision. The second is she didn't run because she didn't want to endure a primary. If the latter, then who does she think she is? Talk about a reversion to the party bosses who used to decide elections in advance. Only this time, reportedly, the party boss was in Washington DC. Stephanie could've run, she alone is responsible for her decision.

  47. Douglas Wiken 2014.09.19

    I don't miss Stephanie and her blue dog crap one bit.

  48. jerry 2014.09.19

    Roger, republicans have been indoctrinated to bite at anything, kind of like a rattler that is shedding its skin. It would not have mattered if the Baby Jesus was the majority leader, they would still get their hate on for whoever is there if that person is a democrat. Hey, that reminds me, Jesus was a revolutionary, a man of the people, one who believed in social justice and that is why he got crucified. He would have been a Democrat for sure. So that is why the republican is in general so full of hate and racism, it all fits doesn't it?

  49. daleb 2014.09.20

    The next step in these ads has to make the case that SD's EB5 regional office should of been shut down, but why wasnt it? The ad needs to answer that question. The rules state that if a regional office does not have a very good success rate, that the projects provide sustainable employment, it should be shut down. Selling visa's for money is one thing, but how aweful SD's eb5 regional office's track record is another and worse. Failure after failure. There might be links to other failed eb5 regional offices too. anyways, just spitting out ideas.

  50. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.21

    Dale, the EB-5 program had two major losses: the Veblen dairies and Northern Beef Packers. The Huron turkey plant is still operational. We could get into an argument about what constitutes an acceptable success rate. I would love to see the math Republicans use to say EB-5 has brought $600M and over 5,000 jobs to the state.

    But I understand that the smarter guys who actually get hired to run campaigns aren't going to trot out lots of spreadsheets and economic data. They have to find the points that they can boil down into five-second slogans. That's why a lot of the evidence and explication I've laid out on this blog will never see the light of day in the press conferences, PAC ads, and headlines.

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