The report was submitted by Auditor General Martin Guindon, and it yielded some quirky and troublesome findings. It said "policies and procedures were inadequate for the monitoring of the contract with SRDC." SRDC is the company that was involved with the "Slaughterhouse EB-5" fiasco in Aberdeen, costing South Dakota taxpayers millions of dollars that were provided to the enterprise via the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The whole matter is still under investigation by federal authorities. Another finding: GOED "did not have a formal written policy and related procedures addressing ethics and potential conflicts of interest." Apparently there was nothing specific to GOED employees regarding ethics and conflicts, just the one-size-fits-all handbook that is issued to all state employees. A third finding is where the quirkiness resides: "Internal controls were inadequate over the processing of travel vouchers resulting in duplicate and unsupported travel payments." Troublesome? Of course. Quirky? More than that. It's just plain weird. Here's why: "We also noted six invoices included for reimbursement in the travel vouchers that were identified as having been for translation services. These services involved having legal documents and seminar documents associated with the EB 5 program translated into other languages. All six invoices indicated that the payment on the invoice was to be made in cash. Five of the payments totaling $13,500.00 were associated with invoices from an individual that had handwritten on them “only invoice available” and the instruction on the invoice was to “pay by cash when next trip”. One invoice for $1,200.00 was on the letterhead of a Philippine hotel and had handwritten on it four names, “USD Cash $1,200.00”, “translation and interpretation”, and "only invoice available”. No receipts were included with the travel vouchers to support that payment was tendered for the services provided on the invoices. As a result, $14,700.00 in expenditures paid from the General Fund was not properly supported." The travel vouchers in question were submitted by Richard Benda for travels to Asia to gather up investors for Slaughterhouse EB-5, and these translation service vouchers were presumably payments made during a trip to the Phillipines. The "pay by cash" aspect lends some mystery to the proceedings that I believe has yet to be cleared up.
So . . . we have indadequate policies and procedures, we have no written policy regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, and we have inadequate internal controls. Governor Rounds, would it be too much to ask of you to come forward and explain how this culture of incompetence and inadequacy was cultivated during your tenure as Governor? And while somebody's at it, how on earth did South Dakota get into a situation where it had to pay cash to unnamed nationals in order to get business done in the Philippines? Will the weirdness over this thing ever stop?