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SD Ag. Dept. Wrote Letter in Support of NBP/EB-5 Visa App

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Rounds insists that he was not involved in the "transactional details" of his own EB-5 visa investment program.

Does writing a letter to support an EB-5 investor's visa application count as a transactional detail? If so—well, Governor Rounds didn't do it, but his Department of Agriculture did, and they invoked his policy goals to help transact that detail:

David Skaggs, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, letter to USCIS, 2007.04.13
David Skaggs, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, letter to USCIS, 2007.04.13 (click to enlarge).

Dairy development specialist David Skaggs looks at this nice gentleman's $500,000 investment in the first round of EB-5 funding for Northern Beef Packers back in 2007, asserts that investment will create the necessary three direct (read: real) and seven indirect (read: imaginary) jobs, and says that money "is considered very important to the economy of South Dakota and our Governor's Value Added Agriculture policy."

Maybe I don't understand such things, but I think if I'm an assistant to an assistant of a gubernatorial appointee, I don't go invoking the Governor's policy agenda in correspondence with the federal government unless I know the governor knows and approves of my invocation.

So, just to review: we have NSU, Board of Regents, AG's office, GOED lawyers, Jason Gant and his 2008 GOAC, and now the Department of Agriculture with their fingerprints all over EB-5. Was everyone in Pierre except for Mike Rounds involved in EB-5? How many more documents do we have to find before Mike Rounds just admits EB-5 was his responsibility?


  1. jerry 2014.10.10

    With Rounds fingerprints all over it, you know his sidekick Daugaard was licking the stamps for the letters. Ole Marty was in on the fix as well, much like a consigliere in the rest of the crime families. The whole barrel is rotten to the core.

  2. Jessie 2014.10.10

    Based on my four years working for state go'vt, which ended several years ago, when the Gov said something was policy and was important, most folks could use that in correspondence with whomever (whoever?) and be safe. It probably had to pass muster with the Ag Sec but I doubt Rounds ever saw it. Far be it from me to defend the little weasel but this time I doubt we can make this one stick.

  3. Jana 2014.10.10

    And David Skaggs knew and remained silent...and a part of the scandal.

    So who was the head of the Department of Agriculture...this certainly didn't go out without their knowledge?

    Jason Glodt was Rounds' policy advisor? Who was Chief of Staff? Legal counsel?

    As the Yankton Press & Dakotan details in their "Anatomy of a Scandal" it looks like Labor Secretary Pam Roberts also knew about the governor's role in the EB-5/GOED/Northern Beef Scandal.

    A quick read of the article also names others who were involved who may have information worth knowing.

  4. Jana 2014.10.10

    Are these people all complicit in their silence?

  5. lesliengland 2014.10.10

    Why aren't REGENTS releasing joop's deposition? It is their property. FOIA request anybody?

  6. lesliengland 2014.10.10

    Why aren't REGENTS releasing joop's deposition? It is their property. FOIA request anybody?

    Jana can you paste that article here?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.10

    Understood, Jessie. Rounds probably did not eyeball this letter. But it's from his administration. It's not from the Board of Regents, who Rounds said was Bollen's boss and ran EB-5. It's not from Benda or GOED. It's from a whole 'nother department. At some point, it seems Rounds gave the word for everyone in Pierre to work toward helping Bollen and Benda sell green cards. Does that fit with the story Rounds has been telling us for the last couple months?

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.10

    Jana, Mike Rounds's chief of staff at the time of this letter, as well as at the time of the letter Rounds himself penned to recruit EB-5 investors, was Rob Skjønsberg, his campaign manager who's been firing off the noisy but feckless e-mails defending the candidate from EB-5 attacks.

  9. grudznick 2014.10.10

    I have to wonder if any of these REGENTS people have been involved in government before. Forget about all your libbie tin-foil hat fears of rich people contributing to campaigns or buying nice houses which makes you mad because you can't buy as nice a house as they have. Focus on the political connections of these REGENTS.

    I am, frankly, shocked my good friend Bill has not hit upon the lead here yet.

  10. jerry 2014.10.10

    Of course, that makes sense to me that Rob (what an appropriate first name) Skunkendorfer writes all of the fizzle to take away the look of his own involvement in the schemes. What a can of crooks and liars that need to be sorted out with a special prosecutor to dust off the ole RICO books.

  11. Jana 2014.10.10

    My apologies to Bob Mercer for not crediting him with the story link to the Yankton paper. Sure is looking like you have been on the right track for awhile...thanks for all of your research and insight.

  12. grudznick 2014.10.10

    I wonder if Mr. Montgomery is looking into the ties that other real reporters had to all of this E-B5 business. I bet you there are tendrils snarling back up nostrils into the early 2002 era if one digs deep enough. And who, Mr. Pay? ,who was in charge of the E-B5 business back then? It was not slag dump uranium things that rotted Mr. Pay's mind back in the day.

  13. jerry 2014.10.10

    Mr. grudznick, I am eager to report that in the year 2002, a little twerp by the name of Mike Rounds was the new governor, hence the in charge guy. The head of the state, the grand exulted one, the little big dog, you name it and it all goes back to Mike Rounds.

  14. grudznick 2014.10.10

    Go deeper, Mr. jerry. Go deeper. You are just reading the surface and not looking into the relationships that run deep under still waters. If you are hindered by a libbie mind, that means that placid exteriors might just hid a more subtle nature situation that is hard for you to comprehend. Dig deeper. Use your mind, like Mr. H and Mr. C do. Use your mind.

  15. Jessie 2014.10.10

    Cory, being told that this is the Gov's wish (policy and importance) very rarely corresponded to being told something specific like "the word for everyone in Pierre to work toward helping Bollen and Benda sell green cards." A specialist is a relative peon in a state department. Those of us at this guy's level and below never heard the who's, why's and wherefore's of any of the policy decisions. I worked my butt off doing writing, editing and graphic design for one of Round's workforce initiative deals with nary a word why or wherefore. Luckily I have already forgotten what it was called. The brain has ways of protecting itself from bad memories. Don't get me started on Ms. Roberts, though. I'll have nightmares again.

  16. Bree S. 2014.10.10

    Yeah jerry, go deeper. There was clearly a big business in mailing all these letters. Who got the contract to supply Rounds with paper and stamps? What about pens? Were they Rosicrucians? Does Sibby know? There was a lot of money to be made and we need to run down all the leads.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.10

    Jerry, indeed: Rob Skjønsberg, Rob Burgess....

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.10

    Jessie, does it make a difference to your assessment to note that this letter from specialist Skaggs isn't just some general letter, but a specific letter to the USCIS supporting a specific investor's EB-5 application?

  19. grudznick 2014.10.10

    Mrs. S. has been busy dancing and such, and it is very good to read her again indeed.

  20. jerry 2014.10.10

    Hello Bree S, how ya been? and how is the young un? Yes I have done dug deeper. I am not so sure about the office supplies, but then, I would guess that they would have come from a benefactor of course. The stamps were from the post office, of that I can be assured they were tampered with by George W. Bush and on I will go...

  21. jerry 2014.10.10

    In my travels though, I forgot to mention another form of interesting corruption from the Rounds cartel. That would be Randy Brich and his travels (albeit unknown to the capo Rounds, insert nod nod wink wink) in west river South Dakota.

    Mike Rounds has got to either be the head of the biggest criminal enterprise since territory days or he was the most inept governor South Dakota ever had. Either way, the little twerp should probably have his fanny in the hoosegow.

  22. Bree S. 2014.10.10

    Grudz I know you love your intel but parking a boat outside my windows and watching me freestyle is a little creepy.

    Me? I've been changing diapers and all that housewifey stuff.

    The kids are great and growing fast. Time does fly.

  23. Jessie 2014.10.10

    Nope, doesn't change my assessment. I agree wholeheartedly that Rounds has to accept responsibility for whatever his administration did, but I think we should concentrate on other aspects of the scandal. This horse won't run. Keep the focus on the parts more likely to generate results.

  24. Merlyn Schutterle 2014.10.11

    I think you are right, Jerry. Unfortunately, EB5 is not the most important issue. It's Daugaards and Rounds' stand on issues that have not been investigated. It's Janklow's old gang. Honesty in our politicians, which is petty close to none. Few have heard my story and they don't care. Unlike most folks in SD, I have personal experience with and it is corrupt from beginning to end. People in SD are ignorant of facts and they don't care. It's all in their false belief systems.

  25. Lynn 2014.10.11

    Merlyn what is sad and unfortunate in our state being so small is that if you make a stand by either publicly questioning or running for public office depending on what level your at risk of personal assassination like what we see over at that other blog, or suffer the consequences in other ways as what happened to you. There is some idiot with a name for a boycott of Parkers Bistro the Bistro Weiland owns.

    There is such a dire need for balance in our state to end this corruption, secrecy and abuse of power. Hopefully Nov 4th will be a step in the right direction.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.11

    What do you think Marion would be saying if NBP were processing 1000 head a day?

  27. Lynn 2014.10.12

    Francis he would definitely own it and claim it as one of his successes due to his leadership and probably go into detail on how it became a success.

  28. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.12

    Reveals character does it not?

  29. Lynn 2014.10.12

    It sure does and I would never trust this man nor his staff that work for him that have aided him in his lies and cover up.

  30. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.12

    Anyone checked out Jamison Rounds?

  31. Mike Quinlivan 2014.10.12

    I am a democrat to the core. But I would suggest not bringing Mr. Jamison Rounds into this mix. Prof. Rounds earned his degree, and his job at USD. I never had a class with him, but he did teach with many of my professors, and they respected him for his scholarship. There are good eggs among a mess of bad ones.

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