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Mercer Gets Bollen Deposition: Regents Tried Stopping SDRC Inc., Governor’s Office Saved

The South Dakota Board Regents refused to release the April 2014 deposition of Joop Bollen in the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration, not because they were bound by any judge's order or confidentiality agreement, but just because they didn't want to.

Darley exec Robert Stratmore felt no such compunction. He sent a copy to Bob Mercer, who writes up Bollen's statements in this morning's Aberdeen paper. Among the highlights:

Bollen said he can't recall whether he or James Park of the Hanul law firm wrote the January 2008 contract that he signed on behalf of his state agency with his own private company, SDRC Inc. Um, Joop, seriously? You don't remember who authored the document that opened your door to millions of dollars in EB-5 fees?

Bollen confirms analysis offered here that the state—"on recommendation of NSU counsel"—got him to temporarily resign his presidency of SDRC Inc. in spring 2009 in order to turn down the heat on the Darley lawsuit.

Bollen explains the politics that led him to reattach himself to SDRC Inc. on June 1, 2009:

“By that time it became clear that the university had no interest in this program anymore.

“Again, everything froze, no discussions were being made, my travel was not being approved, and the writing was on the wall that the board of regents did not no longer want to be part of the international activities of SDRC Inc., and it also by the time was clear that the governor’s office, even though they wanted to take the management back to the state, but they realized that they could not effectively manage it themselves, and it became more and more clear that there was a good chance that SDRC Inc. would enter into a separate agreement with the state to manage the program as a private were going to let it die, but the moneys from the project were real.

“They started to flow, so the train was coming. It was going to be a train wreck because action needed to be taken,” Bollen said [Bob Mercer, "Bollen's Deposition Explains How EB-5 Became Privatized," Aberdeen American News, 2014.10.15].

Then-Governor, now Senate candidate Mike Rounds has tried to dump responsibility for any corruption in his EB-5 program onto the Regents. But Bollen's deposition suggests that by mid-2009, the Board of Regents was trying to put a stop to Bollen's activities. Bollen suggests that the governor's office intervened, with the overarching priority of, as Mike Rounds himself told Mercer earlier this month, keeping the money flowing.

Bob! Let's see that full deposition and find out what more it can tell us about Bollen's version of events.


  1. Tim 2014.10.15

    There is a reason why Rounds is bending over backwards to protect Joops ass. If one of the ongoing investigations (the feds maybe) was to turn the heat up high enough Joop will spill his guts. If that happens it may be more than just Rounds that comes crashing down, Daugaard might find his administration in the trash heap as well. Joop does need to be careful, he may find himself to be the next suicide victim to be found in the woods someplace.

  2. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.15

    I read the Aberdeen American news with joy this morning as finally someone has talked about transparency and good governance, too bad that came from Robert Stratmore from Darley not our own Governor's office but hey it is a start.

  3. lesliengland 2014.10.15

    wouldn't regents and/or AG jackley turn over entire file to press to be transparent upon a single fon call from denny? this continuing cover-up is at his behest, another reason his boy tidemann ect should be investigating with subpoenas. good ole' boys club!! les the repub poster likened it to hitler.

  4. 96Tears 2014.10.15

    Five days to the first anniversary of the mysterious and violent death of Richard Benda in that Charles Mix County shelterbelt ... and Mike Rounds is feverishly waiting for the clock to run down.

    Bollen's insights here show the interactions, arrogance and dysfunctions between Rounds, his staff, his Board of Regents, NSU and Bollen. Joop seems to have been the only person who could make the money machine work and his testimony shows how pathetically incapable Team Rounds was throughout the years they were in office.

    Team Rounds became Team Daugaard who waited to shut down Bollen's contract two and a half years after taking office and proved to be as incapable and as culpable as Team Rounds. Again, Bollen indicates that Team Rounds, NSU and the Board of Regents appeared fully aware SDRC's activities. Lately, Mike Rounds' lies and shifting explanations of what happened make him out to be either the dumbest guy in his administration or its biggest con artist.

    What seems to be coming into view is Richard Benda's true role in SDRC.

    Bollen seems to be a one-man operation. Benda seems to have become a fifth wheel when he walked out the door with the $1 million check he received from Rounds at the end of Rounds' administration. Bollen's reference to not being able to get travel approval and other problems from working inside the Rounds regime indicates he really wanted to be the only person in charge.

    So, was Benda thrust upon him by Rounds to take care of Rounds' buddy? And was it the buddy system that led to Benda being hired by Heartland?

    Benda's the dead guy in this sordid tale and can't defend himself. I wonder how big a fish he really was in all of this when he was alive. I also wonder how truthful Marty Jackley was in late August when he announced he had three felony warrants and a grand jury lined up against Benda back in early October 2013. If felony warrants were in order from Jackley's "investigation," where were the warrants against Bollen?

  5. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.15

    I wonder when the agreement between Hanul and SDIBI will rear it's ugly head. I cannot imagine that Mr. Robert Stratmore doesn't have that as well. Do you suppose Marion is wondering what tomorrow's headline will feature.

  6. 96Tears 2014.10.15

    Congratulations Bob Mercer for getting this story. Too bad the other news organizations in this state don't have someone with your work ethic and professional discipline on their staffs.

  7. wal 2014.10.15

    Did Clyde Arnold, after he retired obtain any consulting contracts or construction contracts from any of the EB-5 projects?

  8. Bree S. 2014.10.15

    So Bollen's travel wasn't being approved and Benda's double-billed travel vouchers to China from 2009 were subpeonaed by the Feds.

    Jackley said he wasn't ruling out future investigations in an interview because that could grant someone immunity.

  9. Slynn 2014.10.15

    This is documentation of another false statement Rounds made in his responses to GOAC (a felony per Patrick Duffy).

  10. John M. Nelson 2014.10.15

    As I posted on FB yesterday.
    Some people never learn. These lessons from Watergate...:
    1. "Follow the money." Deep Throat
    2. The cover-up is worse than the misdeeds. US House committee deliberating a presidential impeachment resolution.

  11. 96Tears 2014.10.15

    Hmmm ... Dusty Johnson's resigned for a job in the private sector. They're already jumping ship before the contagion sticks to their reputations. This makes two consecutive jobs that Dusty quit early to latch onto a better deal.

  12. Steve Sibson 2014.10.15

    So what exactly is Dusty's "better deal"?

  13. Bree S. 2014.10.15

    Lobbying assumed-Senator Mike Rounds for some energy group?

  14. Steve Sibson 2014.10.15

    Yes Tears, we were not told. You know what that does to those of us who are labeled conspiracy theorists.

  15. Jana 2014.10.15


  16. Jana 2014.10.15

    I keep seeing the banking commission and Jeff Erickson's name come up in these attempts to connect the dots.

    Wasn't he the money man for Rounds and Daugaard? Didn't Mike and Denny put him in charge of the banking commission? and on the GOED future fund board?

    Someone said he is also the guy that sold out Watertown to Sioux Falls and then sold out again to a foreign company. (Austria or Australia?)

    His old bank just went public.

    Is that where Dusty is headed?

    Thinking too much...if only Mike and Dennis would have been up front about the whole mess.

  17. Jana 2014.10.15

    Given Dusty didn't disclose where he was headed, I'm guessing it is a special interest company that the current administration has been favoring, or are seeking the governor's favor.

    Dusty, are you taking advantage of your taxpayer paid position as a ticket into the revolving door of influence?

  18. Jana 2014.10.15

    Dusty is a professional I don't see his new role in the private sector being too far removed from being a paid influence guy.

  19. JeniW 2014.10.15

    It really is not all that unusual for a high profile accepting a new position not to announce the location or name of new employer.

    Some of that could be due to the new employer's contract, and to help protect the new employer. There are some pretty bizarre people out there who are willing to cause harm.

    Hang tight, who Dusty's new employer is will be made known soon enough.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.15

    (I'll be putting in a bid to get Dusty to be my next guest blogger.)

  21. grudznick 2014.10.15

    Mr. Sibby, it is very likely that Mr. Johnson is going to work for Toshiba in Mitchell as VP of Accounting.

  22. lesliengland 2014.10.15

    cory, looking forward to your thoughts if you get your hands on joop's deposition from mercer or even duffy.

  23. grudznick 2014.10.15

    Ms. Wiser, who was sporting a more dapper than usual pants suit today, said to Mr. Lalley on her own volition: "South Dakota is an extremely well run state."

    What on earth was going through her grimacing head? I think Lalley beat her down with confusion because he knew that would work and was looking for a mean beat down day.

  24. scott 2014.10.15

    Here's a plausible scenario: Rounds wins election, then is indicted, resigns or is convicted, and Denny appoints Dusty to the US senate.

  25. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.15

    Scott, that was my thought too!

  26. Steve Sibson 2014.10.16

    The Mitchell paper is reporting this morning that Dusty left his position for family reasons. Which makes sense as he was commuting between Mitchell and Pierre. He has three young boys, so he took a job with Vantage Point.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    Here's the article Steve mentions:

    Good for Dusty! Commuting from Mitchell to Pierre, sleeping away from your family at least two nights a week for 15 years—that stinks! He'll be a happier man come November.

    Dusty also says he has no immediate plans to run for office. Elect Rounds, boot him from office, offer Dusty the Senate job, and I'll bet he'd be sorely tempted (come on, who wouldn't?), but he'd avoid the whiplash and say no.

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    So hey, let's do Dusty and his family a favor and avoid his even having to face that possibility: elect Weiland and Wismer!

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