Thursday, November 21, 2013

South Dakota needs to look at this EB-5 thing.

     Okay, I get that the Attorney General's office and the U.S. Attorney are concurrently investigating the EB-5 investment program that financed the meatpacking plant fiasco in Aberdeen with funds provided by foreign investors who, as part of their inducement to put money into emerging enterprises in the United States, are also able to obtain green cards for legal entry into the U.S.  Excellent conventional media reportage by Bob Mercer (available in the Rapid City Journal and other papers around the state) and aggressive blogosphere look-sees by Cory Heidelberger over at The Madville Times (just google that phrase, you'll find it) will provide plenty of background and details.
     From the avalanche of facts available so far, it's clear that the State of South Dakota, through its Governor's Office of Economic Development, worked closely with  a privately held firm called SDRC, Inc. on a contractual basis that gave administrative functions involving the EB-5 program to SDRC.  Last September, the contract was canceled by South Dakota "for cause."  Okay, that's fine.  But what I want to know is, what was the "cause?"  I'm perfectly willing to accept that both the state and federal  investigative forces need to operate in their respective vacuums of confidentiality at this stage of the game, but have every reason to expect to know the specifics about a contract revocation between South Dakota and SDRC, particularly since there was no indication that the "cause" was itself a subject of investigation by state and federal gumshoes.
     More  than that, I think an audit of the entire relationship between South Dakota and SDRC is perfectly in order, considering that state time and expenditures were no doubt part of the dealings involved here.  When asked to initiate such an audit during the past few days, a spokesman for Governor Dennis Daugaard's offce was reported by Dirk Lammers of the Associated Press (note:  I inadvertently attributed this quote to Bob Mercer in my original post and regret the error.)  as saying that the contract between our state and SDRC "did not give the Governor's Office of Economic Development the authority to audit all of SDRC records."  I'm sorry (and believe me, I consider myself a friend and supporter of Governor Daugaard) but this does . . . not . . . wash.  Granted, SDRC's records involving affairs that have nothing to do with South Dakota are rightfully off-limits to SD auditors--but what about dealings involving public time and money that are directly done with our state?  Speaking as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of this great State of South Dakota, I think I'm well within my rights to demand an audit of every single transaction that took place between my state and SDRC.
    So how about it, Governor Daugaard?  Let's be up-front about this and open those books. 

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