I'm still trying to get my head around the full import of Denise Ross's remarkable reportage linking Mike Rounds's brother Dennis to the GOED/NBP/EB-5 scandal (good grief: now on top of all the initials, we've got another Dennis!).
Denise Ross remembered that Dennis Rounds directed the state's Office of Risk Management from 2005 until the end of his brother's tenure as governor in January 2011. That job put Dennis Rounds in charge of, among other things, managing lawsuits against the state.
Hey! Darley International sued the state in 2008 and 2009, claiming state employee Joop Bollen had stiffed them on a contract for EB-5 recruiting. What did risk manager Dennis Rounds know about that?
In a telephone interview with the Daily Republic, Dennis Rounds said he did not recall the so-called Darley case, filed in California. Dennis Rounds appeared genuinely surprised when some of the details of the unusual case were recounted to him and challenged the likelihood of some of the details, including whether a state employee who is not a lawyer could represent the state in court. (Details are included later in this article.)
"That just couldn't happen," Dennis Rounds said.
Dennis Rounds said all lawsuits, once filed against the state of South Dakota are "immediately brought over to the Office of Risk Management" [Denise Ross, "Rounds' Brother Oversaw EB-5 Litigation," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2014.10.06].
Yeah, no kidding, Dennis. It shouldn't happen. The State of South Dakota Risk Management Manual says it should never happen:
If you are served with any legal documents making you a party to a lawsuit, immediately contact the Office of Risk Management. Forward a copy of all the documents you receive. Prompt action is necessary due to the fact there are only 20 days for our attorney to prepare and file an Answer in a lawsuit [State of South Dakota Risk Management Manual, updated 2012.07.18, p. 4-2].
But it did happen. Add violating state risk management policy to the pile of infractions Joop Bollen committed in his privatization of his state job running EB-5 (conflict of interest, BOR policy, unlicensed lawyering, bank franchise tax...).
Dennis Rounds's surprise, his incredulity that such a thing could have happened, tells us that Bollen's improper actions were extraordinary. Bollen's extraordinary impropriety came to light to numerous state officials in a holy-hopping-Helga! moment in January 2009. At least one of those legally well-trained officials—Regental counsel Jim Shekleton? Attorney General Larry Long?—had to realize this extraordinary behavior exposed South Dakota to risk that Dennis Rounds's office needed to know about.
And one would think that someone in that chain of risk management would have looked at that extraordinary risk and said, "That just couldn't happen! We gotta shut Bollen down!"...
...unless there was some extraordinary reward coming up that created pressure not to shut Bollen down...
...a reward like $55 million in EB-5 money in the chute for Bollen's lawyer Jeff Sveen's big turkey plant in Huron?
Is that why Mike Rounds not only didn't fire Joop Bollen, but rewarded him after these extraordinary circumstance came to light with a no-bid contract to privatize his state job?
How Dennis Rounds could not notice the Darley litigation and the extraordinary circumstances surrounding it is a big question. A bigger question is why those who did notice did not get someone to remove those extraordinary circumstances—i.e., fire Joop Bollen. Nobody—Dennis, Dennis, Mike, Marty, Larry, Jim, Jeff, Tim, John—has provided a satisfactory answer to that question.