Taking lumps for the corruption he enabled in South Dakota's economic development program, Mike Rounds continues to doggedly avoid addressing any of the substantive charges of his unfitness for office. Here's his third ad in a row that mentions the EB-5 scandal but answers none of the questions:
I'll be happy to talk issues, Mike. You're still wrong:
- You have no credibility on fixing the "bureaucratic nightmare in Washington" or the budget. You expanded South Dakota state government, ran a structural deficit seven out of eight years, and left your successor with a 127-million-dollar hole in the state budget to fix with damaging budget cuts.
- You say repeal the Affordable Care Act, replace it, and fix Medicare. The Affordable Care Act is making Medicare stronger. Your opponent Rick Weiland's plan to allow younger, healthier folks to buy into Medicare would make Medicare even stronger. You throw all that out and replace it with... what, Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare?
- Keystone XL doesn't have to be built. Build it, and you ship valuable North American oil to China and jack up our prices. You won't free up rail cars for grain, because the Bakken boom is driving the rail traffic, and KXL will carry little if any Bakken oil. Why not block Keystone XL and advocate building more rail?
- You say we have to protect Second Amendment rights... but from what? More people have guns than ever. President Obama has had six years to come for our guns, and he hasn't done it. This isn't policy talk; this is boogeyman baloney.
- You want results, you want to work with Senator Thune—oh, yeah, with results like that, who needs inaction?
But here's the real problem, Mike: even if you were gleeking some good policies out through that forced smile, we still couldn't trust you to do them.
Let's look at one good idea you thought you had: Northern Beef Packers. The guy you put in charge of securing funding for that project, Joop Bollen, broke all sorts of state rules running the EB-5 program that kept that packing plant alive. He started breaking those rules in January 2008, if not earlier. Your administration knew about the rules he was breaking. Any one of his infractions was worth immediate suspension and termination.
But you kept paying him a state salary. You let him make money using state resources. You let him have two no-bid state contracts that set him up to pocket millions of dollars that could have been ours. You rewarded exactly the kind of corruption that South Dakotans count on their Congresspeople to catch and call out and stop.
This scandal raises the classic character question: do you have the character to be our Senator? Do you have the character to do what's right? Do you have the character to stand up to corruption, even when that corruption promotes a pet project that will boost your political fortunes?
The Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal seems to say the answer is no. Even if this were "all they've got" (and don't kid Grampa Don—it's not), this question of character could be all we'd need to make the case that we cannot trust you to be our Senator.