Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mike "The Buck Stops There" Rounds Says He Was Clueless And Indifferent While Governor.

     After this morning's piece in the Rapid City Journal contradicting Republican Senate Candidate Mike Rounds' testimony at a SD legislative committee's hearing on the ongoing Slaughterhouse EB-5 fiasco, Rounds made a retraction.  Reporter Seth Tupper's piece in the RCJ documents Rounds' mis-statement about not having been served with papers connected to a lawsuit filed against the state in a case involving the EB-5 "cash for green cards" program administered in South Dakota. Rounds has been claiming all along that the EB-5 fiasco had nothing do with him or the Governor's office.  He wants us to believe that all the shenanigans and the huge missed financial opportunity for the State of South Dakota (we're talking about SD missing out on as much as $120 million in revenues from foreign investors) were under the purview of the South Dakota Board of Regents and a state official, since dead by suicide, named Richard Benda.  The fact is, the governor's office was indeed served with papers.  And the news was so startlingly contradictory to what candidate Rounds had said to the legislators investigating the imbroglio that the former governor and present senate candidate was prompted into making a retraction.
     Here's the full statement, as published on today's Sioux Falls Argus Leader website:
"It has come to our attention that the governor's office was indeed secondarily notified of the Board of Regent's petition order. An assistant in the governor's office had received the notification. As a clerical function, we assume the document was simply forwarded to the Board of Regents, the attorney general's office or the general counsel. I had not seen that particular document until yesterday, October 1, 2014. Prior to receipt of this document in 2009, the Attorney General had already appointed an attorney to represent the SD Board of Regents in the Darley matter. At that point of secondary notice, the matter was clearly being handled by the Board of Regents, not the Governor's Office. The Board of Regents does not fall under authority of the Governor. State government is sued frequently and the governor, any governor, would not necessarily see every summons delivered to the state. To put it into context, the state was sued 111 times in 2012 and 107 times in 2013 – on average once every three days. As a result of this new information, I acknowledge that the governor's office did receive secondary notice of the petition. As a clerical function, I just hadn't seen that particular document and was not aware that the secondary notice had been delivered until yesterday."
     Giving Rounds the benefit of the doubt and all that goes with presumptions of innocence, the retraction is still a self-damning document.  Consider that this was a matter involving foreign investors, hundreds of millions of dollars, the very program that Rounds used as the vehicle for getting his dream of a slaughterhouse in Aberdeen financed, and an economic development program that Rounds himself has been touting as a boon for South Dakota.  Rounds in his statement now expects us to believe that a lawsuit of such magnitude, touched off by one of his centerpiece initiatives, was just another one of the many lawsuits against South Dakota that he routinely passed over while he was Governor.  Suspending disbelief for a moment, the only conclusion we can draw from Rounds' retraction is that he was utterly indifferent to the matter and that, because in his view it was the business of the Board of Regents, he wasn't aware of the problem, much less its magnitude.  Therefore, in addition to his indifference to the papers being served on him, he was clueless about what was going on anyway, because it was the BOR's problem.  To hear him tell it, Rounds sat by in ignorance during a financial debacle that cost his state as much as $120 million.  That $120 million, by the way, was just about the size of the state's budget deficit inherited by Rounds' successor, Dennis Daugaard.
     South Dakota common sense makes me wonder why this indifferent and clueless former Governor thinks he can hack it as a United States Senator.  
     
   
   
     

14 comments:

  1. Boom. That's powerful stuff, John.

    You wrote:
    >"Rounds has been claiming all along that the EB-5 fiasco had nothing do with him or the Governor's office. He wants us to believe that all the shenanigans and the huge missed financial opportunity ... were under the purview of the South Dakota Board of Regents and a state official, since dead by suicide, named Richard Benda."

    Benda was appointed by Rounds and served at his pleasure. And didn't Rounds start this campaign bragging about his own skills as a "manager"? He seems to have backed away from that boast.

    How could Rounds give so much power to a man with so little integrity, then not only fail to see the obvious red flags but actually joke about them?

    "Many years ago in the town of Kimball, a young boy named Richard Benda learned three valuable life lessons: a good story can get you out of trouble; being a fast talker can get you out of more trouble; and being a team player and hard worker can keep you out of trouble ..."
    Manager Mike Rounds (proclaiming Richard Benda Day on December 22, 2010)
    http://madvilletimes.com/2014/01/rounds-praised-benda-as-story-teller-fast-talker-big-traveler/

    A "team player" is politi-speak for someone who covers up the corruption of his or her perceived political allies (a.k.a. cronies). Most of a U.S. senator's work is dependent on the ability to surround himself or herself with good people. The glaring question is whether a Senator Rounds would surround himself with people of integrity or "team players" like Richard Benda.

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    1. ...and yet, you supported Rounds' biggest "team player" in the primary who helped Rounds pass all those deficit budgets, increase state spending, and push the crony-capitalism GOED that is at the root of this EB5 corruption.

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    2. I'd be interested in an explanation of exactly how you'd say Larry Rhoden "pushed" the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

      Senator Rhoden gave most of a year of his life to campaigning against Manager Mike. Maybe you can google it if you ever get deprogrammed.

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  2. What is that saying about telling a lie? You have tell another one to explain the first one.
    Mike got caught In telling a whopper, the very conservative Rapid City Journal and reporter Seth Tupper caught him. They have the evidence, not just hearsay.
    What other lies has Mike Rounds told about his involvement in the scandal of his own making?
    It is no wonder he refuses to debate.

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  3. I really think that if Rounds has any sense of honor at all. he would withdraw from the Senate race. This is more than an embarrassment to South Dakota. He is a disgrace.

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  4. If Rounds could not handle the affairs of a small state like SD, how would he be able to handle the affairs that impact the whole country?

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  5. Here's a little walk down memory lane--an article from November 2012. http://billingsgazette.com/business/south-dakota-beef-plant-about-to-open-after-years-of/article_8ee6a187-60ea-5459-a7f1-699ab174213f.htmlm

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    1. Can't get it to post, Wayne, but I remember the hoopla well. That whole fiasco, from its inception as Rounds' South Dakota Certified Beef program with a vision of creating enough cattle to run through that plant was flawed from the start. I remember talking to local stockgrowers (and people in their RC-based association) who told me that it just wasn't going to happen, and that was back in '06. Some people really got fooled by the pushers of this fiasco.

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    2. The idea that an unaffiliated slaughterhouse could be built from scratch and compete in a mature industry where four players control 75%-80% of the market was a pipe dream. This project was pushed because it was popular with the politically powerful not because it was a viable business activity.

      http://www.hcn.org/issues/43.5/cattlemen-struggle-against-giant-meatpackers-and-economic-squeezes/the-big-four-meatpackers-1

      Nick Nemec

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  6. The article quotes SD Stockgrowers expressing disappointment that no one sought their advice before embarking on the program.

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    1. They were downright offended. Here's a piece I wrote for RCJ about SDCB in '06. I believe I noted that Rounds was "overhyping" the program: http://rapidcityjournal.com/tsitrian-rounds-needs-more-specifics/article_0cb07eb0-bb1a-59f5-8726-25dad78f8089.html

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  7. The link to the Billings Gazette story referenced by Mr. Gilbert might be this: http://billingsgazette.com/business/south-dakota-beef-plant-about-to-open-after-years-of/article_8ee6a187-60ea-5459-a7f1-699ab174213f.html

    The tag line gives a different date:

    April 08, 2012 12:00 am • Associated Press


    ABERDEEN, S.D. — A long-delayed South Dakota beef-processing plant given new life when Korean investors took over in 2009 is nearly set to begin operations more than six years after it was first proposed....


    Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/business/south-dakota-beef-plant-about-to-open-after-years-of/article_8ee6a187-60ea-5459-a7f1-699ab174213f.html#ixzz3FIf4MQj3

    Enjoy the blog.

    Thanks.

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    1. Actually, I was looking at a Billings Gazette article which ran a few months after this one, but this one is very in interesting for the following quote from Joop: “There have been challenges with the plant, but things now look positive,” said Joop Bollen, the executive director of the South Dakota Regional Center, part of the governor’s Office of Economic Development.

      As of April 2012 which was, I believe a couple of years after Joop privatized the deal into his LLC, which was done, according to Rounds, because the Regents told Rounds that Joop was 'da man," Joop is identified as the head of an LLC which is part of state government--the Governor's Office of Economic Development. I've always thought Daugaard was out of this nefarious loop, but the timing is making me a little suspicious. 18 months after this article, and less than a year after the one I referenced, the thing blew up and Richard Benda was found dead.

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    2. I also note that this 2012 piece identifies Joop Bollen as the "Executive Director" of the South Dakota Regional Center, "part of the governor's Office of Economic Development." My timeline has Joop being long since gone from GOED, having formed his own company SDRC, inc. in 2008, where he captured all the EB-5 business from his private sector enterprise. Did Bollen and other officials give the Billings Gazette the impression that the EB-5 funds invested in Northern Beef were channeled through GOED and portray Bollen as an official in GOED? Sure reads that way.

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