In typical Bob Mercer style, this one is concise and terse. His blog post in Pure Pierre Politics this morning concludes that there is still a lot to learn about Republican senate candidate Mike Rounds' involvement in the EB-5 fiasco that occurred during Rounds' tenure as Governor of South Dakota. Mercer also notes that Rounds' involvement "was kept secret from the Legislature and the general public until after" key figure Richard Benda's suicide a year ago.
There's another, perhaps even more compelling conclusion in Mercer's trenchant summary. It supports my recent notation that a California arbitrator's decision letting the State of South Dakota and the SD Board of Regents off the financial hook in a lawsuit involving EB-5 didn't settle the matter, as Rounds and his campaign have been claiming. Rounds' recent TV spots say that he's been fully exonerated and that his opponents have been resorting to "dirty politics and character assassination" and peddling "misinformation." Political writer David Montgomery at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader says the ad "significantly overstates" matters. Cory Heidelberger at The Madville Times this morning even gives the ad a point-by-point rejection of its claims, saying that every sentence of it contains "a lie." I've gone through it and I'm in full agreement with Cory.
Rounds and his supporters keep trying to slough this off as a political diversion from the real issues (as if his character and competency as governor aren't issues that need consideration in the race to be a U.S. Senator), but facts keep getting in the way of that effort. Every attempt I've seen by Rounds to distance himself from the scandal is refuted by those facts. Rounds' has repeatedly claimed that the central figure in all this, Joop Bollen, didn't work for him, but rather was employed by the South Dakota Board of Regents. That claim was crushed by the arbitrator in the recently concluded action in California, who noted that Bollen worked for both the Regents and the Governor's office. Then, when responding to a state legislature's inquiry on the matter, Rounds, perpetuating the story that he was unaware of the EB-5 shenanigans while governor, claimed that he'd never received legal papers regarding a lawsuit involving EB-5 while in office. That falsehood was quickly corrected by him when the Rapid City Journal published documents contradicting it on October 2.
You also have to wonder about Rounds' claim that the EB-5 program overall has created thousands of jobs in South Dakota. I think it's bunk and would love to see an accounting from him and his campaign supporting that assertion, particularly in its implication that these are net new jobs. My comments section is open to all comers. Meantime, the facts and the questions will probably just keep coming.