We have Mike Rounds's responses to the Government Operations and Audit Committee's questions about his Office of Economic Development's use of the EB-5 visa investment program. The answers are by turns combative (he accuses legislators of defamation) and evasive.
Let me leap immediately on one persistent bit of hogwash. Asked how closely he worked with Richard Benda and Joop Bollen in the state's use of EB-5, Rounds offers no new information, simply saying as he did last week that he received "updates." He then launches into his hyperbole about EB-5 bringing over $600 million and over 5,000 jobs to the state. But check out the important addition to his phrasing:
The federal EB-5 program was a tool that, as reported, helped create more than 5000 jobs and $600 million in capital investment in South Dakota [emphasis mine; Mike Rounds, response to GOAC questions, 2014.09.22].
Rounds repeats this phrasing in his crafty non-response to the question of whether any beneficiaries of the EB-5 program made campaign contributions to any elected officials overseeing South Dakota's EB-5 program:
The "beneficiaries" of the federal EB-5 program number in the tens of thousands. As reported, 5000+ jobs, $600 million in capital investment, local property tax payers, schools, 27 or more projects in almost as many different communities, utility users, investors, indirect jobs created, service providers, and spin-off business. Where, precisely should we draw the line with "beneficiaries"?
If the questioner has a specific person in mind, political contributions are public information for both state and federal candidates [emphasis mine; Rounds, 2014.09.22].
The press has probably reported that the Rounds campaign has claimed that EB-5 created over 5,000 jobs. But the press has not reported any independent confirmation of this unsubstantiated claim. The only analysis of this claim that I've seen in the press is mine, which finds that counties where EB-5 investment has supported business projects have seen a total job growth since the inception of EB-5 of only 2,755.
It has been reported that Mike Rounds claims that EB-5 had great economic impact. It has not been reported that EB-5 really had that economic impact. Mike Rounds is trying to alchemize his airy campaign claim into a reported fact.
p.s.: Speaking of evasive, Mike Rounds has ignored Bob Mercer's 20 questions about EB-5 since May 4. Mercer says Rounds's campaign manager is promising a meeting between Mercer and Rounds to answer any questions not addressed in the GOAC responses.