Friday, September 19, 2014

Re: The SD Legislature's 9/24 Hearing On The EB-5 Catastrophe. Can I Just Squeeze In A Couple Of Questions For Mike Rounds And Joop Bollen?

     I still think Joop Bollen should be subpoened for this "hearing."  The South Dakota Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) will be holding what they call a "hearing" on the Slaughterhouse EB-5 brouhaha that I wrote about this week in the Rapid City Journal.  You can link to the RCJ piece to get a broad summary of what this mess is all about, but the bottom line is that the State of South Dakota lost $120 million by looking the other way while Joop Bollen transferred, from South Dakota to himself, the lucrative business of arranging "cash for green cards" loans to foreign nationals via the U.S. Immigration Service's EB-5 program.
     I rather scornfully put the word "hearing" into quotes because even though GOAC officially calls it that, the event will actually be a "reading," at least in part and possibly all the way through.  One key witness--former SD Governor and current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Mike Rounds will  be allowed to avoid a physical grilling in the hearing room.  In a done deal for Rounds, he'll be able to respond to two sets of written questions (Set 1 and Set 2) with written responses, a venture that will no doubt keep him and his lawyers occupied to the max for the next few days.  I'd be amazed if the answers are as straightforward as the questions.  They'll certainly provide for a spin-o-rama in coming weeks.
     With the other person of immense interest, Bollen, it's still unclear as to whether he'll show up in person or not.  GOAC chairman Senator Larry Tidemann sent Bollen an ingratiatingly worded  invitation to appear (Can you imagine? An "invitation?" Good grief.) and got this response from Bollen's lawyer.  As RSVPs go, it's pretty unequivocal:  No!  I think Tidemann got the slap-back from Bollen's lawyer he deserved with that obsequious invitation in the first place. On top of that, Bollen's offer to respond to written questions with written answers is ludicrous.  It avoids the spontaneous real-time flow of questions and answers in a hearing room that will make it difficult for Bollen to equivocate and dodge.   It will give him  the time to think through every query and polish a self-serving written response.  GOAC is empowered to subpoena  Joop Bollen and should do so with no hesitation.  120 million bucks is a lot of money and the state deserves answers about how this money got away.  Bollen knows and he should be made to cough up the info at the hearing next week.
     In the meantime, as I review the list of Qs that are being submitted to Rounds, there seems to be a compelling omission.  I hope the GOAC will also ask  this question of each man, namely, "just how do you feel about the fact that your handling of this matter caused South Dakota to lose $120 million in a matter of a couple of years?"  A follow-up for Rounds:  "After letting that kind of money slip through the fingers of your fellow South Dakotans, why should they trust you to represent them in the United States Senate?"  A follow up for Bollen:  "Where's the money?"
   

7 comments:

  1. John,
    I read Mercer's blog and followed the links earlier today about the GOAC "hearing", I like the quotes around hearing. What I found interesting is that these questions can easily lead to another round of questions or follow ups. At sometime Tidemann is going to be forced to subpoena the bunch of them.
    One other point to make is that the invitations to Rounds and Daugaard included the questions by GOAC.
    The invitation to Joop Bollen didn't include any questions, just an invitation.

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    1. I can't figure out why Tidemann is treating Bollen so timidly.

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    2. John,
      I'm guessing you have figured out why Tidemann is treating Bollen with kid gloves, you just don't have the evidence yet.
      Can Rounds and Daugaard plead the 5th on written questions?

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    3. And there is this tidbit that Montgomery at the Argus released late today.

      Sen. Tim Johnson has called for a senate inquiry of the South Dakota EB-5 program.

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    4. Don't know about the 5th Roger, but it would be politically disastrous if they went that route. That Johnson thing sure came out of left field. Timing puts a political cast on it--not sure what to make of it right now.

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  2. Why is Tidemann treating Bollen timidly? My guess is that Bollen will either exercise his fifth amendment rights or throw Mike Rounds under the bus. Neither option is very good for the SD GOP.

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    1. Hard to see any good outcome for the GOP. I see the party is pushing the "South Dakota didn't lose any money" meme, which completely ignores the "opportunity cost" that occurred when Bollen's company scooped up those fees instead of South Dakota. The Center for Immigration Studies piece I linked totted it up and came up with a figure of $120 million. This is the scandal.

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