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Tyler : Bollen :: Mote : Plank — GOP Shows Selective Interest in Conflict of Interest

Mr. Mercer notes that Speaker Wink's constitutional conflict-of-interest excuse for firing Democratic House caucus secretary Kathy Tyler lies in the same topic bubble as House Bill 1023, which may be the only action the South Dakota Legislature takes in response to the EB-5 scandal. I gladly take up the comparison.

HB 1023 outlaws what EB-5 czar Joop Bollen did in 2008 and 2009:

  • The state paid Bollen to manage it's EB-5 visa investment program.
  • In January 2008, Bollen created a private company to do the work that the state was paying him to do.
  • In summer and fall 2009, Bollen negotiated a contract between the state and his private company.
  • On December 21, 2009, Bollen quit his state job.
  • On December 22, 2009, the state formally approved the contract Bollen had negotiated to pay his private company to continue running EB-5, allowing Bollen to claim profits that otherwise would have gone to the state.

Actually, state law already makes illegal what Bollen did in 2008, creating a private company to profit from his ongoing state job. HB 1023 simply extends that prohibition on a conflict of interest to one year after leaving the state's official payroll.

Joop Bollen far more directly and intentionally violated state law in 2009 than Kathy Tyler and the Democrats did. Kathy Tyler voted for a general appropriations bill last year that funds the ongoing position of House caucus Secretary, a job Tyler had no intention of seeking when she voted for the budget last March, since she intended to return to Pierre as a legislator from District 4. Voting for the general appropriation for the Legislature was not an effort to stitch a golden parachute for herself.

Republicans immediately fire Tyler for her debatable infraction. Republicans take no action to reclaim the funds Bollen illegally funneled into his own bank account with his violation of existing statute; they only consider a meager amendment of statute and stay mum on the crimes that arose under their own administration.


  1. jerry 2015.01.17

    Yes, correct, but Bollen was in some kind of partnerships with those in power with the EB-5 corruption. That is really the only way to explain why nothing has been done at the state level to prosecute and find the money, hint, they should check their accounts. Tyler is just to damn honest and that does not count in today's Pierre politics. The republican state Constitution is only to be utilized by the republican ruling party when they can skewer it to their own best interests.

  2. David Newquist 2015.01.17

    The state GOP will try to divert attention away from the fact that it has turned state government into a mafia-like enterprise. It seems to be patterning itself after the corruption that rules Nigeria--which is the prime reason honest workers, especially teachers, spurn this state.

    The Rounds-Bollen-Regents' multi-million-dollar fleecing of EB-5 investors and the attendant financial arrangements that benefitted a few and damaged so many should be a top priority of anyone who can still muster an interest in South Dakota politics. Many of us just want the hell out of here, in spirit if not in fact. The firings of Tornberg and Tyler are clearly vindictive and fit the values that the Republican Party so dutifully demonstrates, despite Mercer's resumption of his press secretary job to provide some cover. As he concludes, the Democrats have to face the reality that corruption rules and triumphs in Pierre.

  3. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.17

    When Butler was treasurer he noticed that there were state accounts in banks under the names of kids of the top people in the republican party so they passed a gag law that would put him in jail if he publicly said anything that he had learned while on the job. So Bollen could have given some kickbacks that will show up where people are not necessarily looking. Bollen was not the one making the decision that he could make so much money on EB5. It was the people above him that signed and set it up. But we still have the gag law so no one who is honest in Pierre can tell.

  4. Loren 2015.01.17

    When you own the State, you make the rules! You don't have to play by them!

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.17

    Yes, to what everyone has said. Corruption is not the way to attract investors or labor.

  6. Jane 2015.01.18

    Not sure the real brains behind EB-5 scam is the politicians, more a greedy Korean attorney and his greedy puppet State employee. The focus may need to be on the fundamental corruption, and eventually the politicals who got involved may be outed as a symptom of the truth. But all this rhetoric and wrong action, is simply sickening.

  7. leslie 2015.01.18

    jane-there has been a cover-up so how can we know? pretty big deal. the players are our senator, governor and attorney general. republicans.

  8. leslie 2015.01.25

    cory, the no-bid-rigged skam joop and the state pulled so his salary was less than $50k at the ideal moment in time seems a big deal, shows intent to skam by both joop and whoever approved or facilitated this bit of free style skating on thin ice. BULLET NO. SIX (above)

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