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Regents Reject Request for Bollen Conflict-of-Interest Docs

While Representative Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) has asked the Board of Regents to release all of its files pertaining to the Darley v. SDIBI litigation (and while I'd be happy for now just to get Darley's 17.5-hour deposition of Joop Bollen), Mr. Montgomery and that Sioux Falls paper are taking another tack, asking the Board of Regents for the Conflicts of Interest Disclosure forms that Bollen would have signed during his Regental employment from 1994 (or whenever the Regents implemented this paperwork) through 2009.

The Regents have said nope:

...the Board of Regents rejected the Argus Leader's open records request, saying an exemption in South Dakota's open records law protects them from disclosing those documents.

Bollen's forms, Regents general counsel Jim Shekleton wrote in a letter, are "personnel information" and thus not subject to required public disclosure.

South Dakota law makes all government documents public records but includes a long list of exceptions. Among those documents not required to be disclosed are "personnel information other than salaries and routine directory information."

"The documents that you request are not public records," Shekleton wrote [David Montgomery, "Regents Deny Bollen Conflict-of-Interest Forms Request," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.10.01].

We don't necessarily need Bollen's conflict-of-interest forms to recognize that he did indeed have a conflict of interest when he signed a no-bid contract assigning the duties the state was paying him to do at NSU to SDRC Inc., his own newly formed private company, in January 2008. Seeing the form Bollen handed the Regents would simply reveal whether Bollen compounded his sins by concealing them, or whether the Regents knew full well what Bollen was doing.

I appreciate the Regents' respect for the privacy of their employees. Certain personnel information should remain private, between employer and employee. But the Regents could satisfy the public interest without revealing any new information. Bollen's ownership of SDRC Inc. and any other corporation is a matter of public record. The Regents could release the conflict-of-interest forms with any private information (like Social Security number or employer ID numbers) redacted but leave the names of the corporations Bollen mentioned, if any. Care to reconsider, Regents?


  1. Joseph Voigt 2014.10.02

    Am I the only one who is getting sick of the, nothing here at all, sick of this harrassment, making stuff up, GOP, who won't release anything?

    Nothing to see here, you are making it all up, but what is here, you aren't going to get to see, especially before the election

  2. WayneF 2014.10.02

    "Ours is a problem in which deception has become organized and strong; where truth is poisoned at its source; one in which the skill of the shrewdest brains is devoted to misleading a bewildered people."

    Walter Lipmann (1889-1974)

  3. Jaka 2014.10.02

    Wayne-what a pertinent to the point quote of the decade!!!
    RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.02

    Agreed: Wayne nails what's happening here. Watergate, said David North last December. Watergate, said the Watertown Public Opinion in August after the GOAC stonewall on Bollen. Watergate, may say every attentive voter on November 4, if they share Joseph's disgust as this clear effort at dodge and deception.

    I find it hard to believe that someone of Mike Rounds's age and alleged wisdom hasn't already learned that it's easier to keep your story straight when you just tell the truth. I wonder when the Regents and others in this story will get tired of helping Mike cover his tracks. The truth will set you free.

  5. 96Tears 2014.10.02

    Wayne, the quote perfectly fits how the bastards in Pierre operate day in and day out. Until now, I was willing to give (not that it matters to anyone) Dennis Daugaard the benefit of the doubt. No longer. This blatant cover-up is running at full throttle on his watch. Dennis should be ashamed, but I suspect he too is incapable of shame or decency.

  6. barryh 2014.10.02

    I am a long time lurker first time concern as an average ordinary Joe voter is that most people in this state have no idea what the eb-5 scandal is about...I have followed this scandle from the get go and it is perfectly clear to me that Mike is covering his own butt...when talking to folks in my community I try and bring up the eb-5 situation and over half of the folks I speak to have no idea what I'm talking about...conservative or liberal makes no conservative friends that have no idea what the eb-5 scandal involves think that it's simply a smear campaign by the liberal friends have no idea what it's about either and are being bombarded with negative ad campaigns which makes them think that it is also just a smear campaign done by typical politicians trying to get elected...when talking with my brother I have mentioned to him as I will mention here...if we can't educate the voters better than we are doing now all this will be for nothing...rounds will be elected to the Senate and the media in d.c will tear him up as being a scandal riddled elected senator and we will be out a voice in my question is to the regular posters do we educate the voters that aren't politicos?

  7. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.02

    A long list of exemption, so why do bother with a public policy of transparency and disclosure.
    Why are non-elected public servants able to decide what can and cannot be disclosed.
    Personnel files are a perfect hiding place for documents, a public employee is caught stealing or not disclosing to his boss important information, put it in their personnel folder and no will ever know.

  8. Bill Fleming 2014.10.02

    barryh, an excellent question. I don't know the answer.

  9. Rod hall 2014.10.02

    Is Joop Bolen a member of the South Dakota Retirement System? Did the Regents deduct the required 6% from Bolens' pay and match it with state funds? Is his private corporation a SDRS member?

  10. Jana 2014.10.02

    Barryh asks: " do we educate the voters that aren't politicos?"

    Jana answers a question with a question: Go viral on social media with entertaining political cartoons and memes?

    I do believe that this is not going away anytime soon. I'm guessing the media will be less than pleased that they were lied to and might just step their efforts up. Not to mention there is enough sting on this "sh*t sandwich (thanks for the image Bill) to go around to all of the GOP.

    It's perfectly fine with me if this whole sh*t storm flows down hill to the district level as it's becoming more clear to regular people that one party rule isn't good for anyone and only serves to keep us ranked as one of the most corrupt states in America.

  11. lesliengland 2014.10.02

    cartoons get published by rc journal these days?

  12. Jana 2014.10.02

    lesliengland, editorial cartoons in local newspapers went away when the money started drying up.

    The good news is that people are on Facebook and other social media, where these cartoons are read forwarded and shared...even with the media.

    I'm afraid that there isn't a silver bullet and paying to publish them South Dakota Democratic Party budget, but doing something is better than nothing.

  13. lesliengland 2014.10.02

    good info. thx. realized how powerful the messeging can be, looking at boston herald cartoon 9.30.14 they had to apologize for the racism.

  14. mike from iowa 2014.10.02

    barryh-remember the old saw-you can lead a horse to water.but you can't make it drink. People,like alcoholics,have to WANT change before they can or will attempt change. If people won't admit there are problems they can't solve them. Someone once said you can do things to people,for people and with people,but,you can't do a damn thing about people. You can't educate them and you will drive yourself crazy trying to.

  15. Jana 2014.10.02

    Mike, but you have to think that even the most ardent republican at some point in time will be embarrassed enough to at least not vote for someone they thought were ethically challenged.

    When the stink hits the local level, even they will work to distance themselves from the deceit and incestuous cronyism ...well at least those with principals.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.02

    Welcome aboard Madville.
    Your question is one we often ask ourselves on a regular basis. There seems to be a shifting of your opinion in recent weeks.
    Polling shows Rick is actually within striking distance of Rounds, people are slowly learning about EB-5.
    When you have one of the most conservative newspapers in the state, the Rapid City Journal, starts running headlines identifying the Rounds Scandal you know people are getting the EB-5 message.
    Even the mouthy Republican and tea party supporters on the comment section of the paper are either non-responsive to this scandal or are asking more questions about the scandal.
    As Jana suggested, social media is the best way to get this news out.
    The absolute best to tell the story of the Rounds EB-5 Scandal is to have them read Madville Times everyday.

  17. jerry 2014.10.02

    To some in the media, thanks for providing coverage of the EB-5. For the rest, shame on you for providing political cover for a criminal enterprise. It is you who have carried the water for Mike Rounds and the rest of the criminals. You have served as an official political arm of the republican party and you should have to declare yourself exactly that. The reason South Dakota voters are in the dark on this matter is because you have made it so.

  18. lesliengland 2014.10.02

    And now the big money national GOP big guns are going to start firing. Folks, i think we might have this senate election and i think daugaard is very susceptible too because of his complicity.

  19. Jane Smith 2014.10.03

    Joop Bollens pay at NSU should be requested from Regents. Add $30,000 per application fees he enjoyed like a buffet of cash all those years. Have IRS verify reported income.
    As for those people of SD who are not aware of this issue by now it's never too late to investigate, get educated and think of what is right and grossly wrong. As well as decide who wronged the people of this state.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.03

    BarryH, glad to have you! I agree: EB-5 is a big, complex mess, ill-suited to soundbite politics. Check out Rep. Susan Wismer's new breakdown of the scandal. What I like about her summary is that she focuses less on the mechanics of the program ("selling citizenship", the marquee phrase of the Every Voice Action ads and the Weiland "Auction" ad, isn't going to resonate nearly as much with voters) and focuses instead on the abuse of power in Pierre (and, in this case, in Aberdeen). EB-5 by itself may not tilt the election, but EB-5 as the epitome of all the cronyism and corruption that pervades Pierre politics is a winner.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.03

    Jane, we have Bollen's state salary. Per the SDIBI-GOED contract signed August 13, 2008, in FY2009, it was $87,000 a year. But I notice the state employee database lists Bollen's salary as $69,374. Oh man: was Bollen pulling two state salaries, one from the BOR and one from GOED via its contract with SDIBI?

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.03

    Rod, I would assume that Bollen was treated just like any other state employee in the eyes of SDRS. I will guarantee that SDRC Inc. is not part of SDRS. No private outfit gets to buy in, contribute, or draw benefits.

  23. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.03

    I wonder if Darley's attorneys will get Joop Bollen's conflict of interest documents? I have decided that having Harry Reid in charge of the Senate is less objectionable than to have Marion be a Senator. It about makes me puke to say that, but I will vote for Weiland. I told you I would let you know.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.03

    Sorry to make you ill, Francis... but let's lay the blame squarely on Mike Rounds. He has committed such malpractice in government that he is driving you to that objectionable but still more tolerable action. If it helps, remember than in the end, South Dakota will be better off with Rick Weiland working hard for us in the Senate and Mike Rounds knocked out of power for good.

  25. Winter_Wheat 2014.10.04

    Who was the president of Northern University when Mr. Bollen was at this state institution? Does she (now SDSU Provost Dr. Peterson?) know more than meets the eye? Should the good provost be asked to "visit" with Tidemann about what she knows/knew?

  26. mike from iowa 2014.10.04

    Cory,didn't Bollen have to take a pay cut so his new contract could be awarded w/o being bid to others?

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