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2014 SDDP State Convention

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Susan Wismer Picks Susy Blake as Running Mate

Blake brings passion, principles, and experience to the Democratic ticket.  

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6 same sex couples sue South Dakota for right to marry

It's official. Nancy, Jennie and two other couples filed a lawsuit challenging South Dakota's gay marriage ban. 

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Latest News & Blog

SDDP demands Daugaard fire Rounds for Senate manager from Board of Economic Development

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 24, 2014

SDDP Chair -
Daugaard: Fire Rounds for Senate campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg from Board of Economic Development

Sioux Falls, SD (October 24, 2014) — South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Deb Knecht demanded that Governor Dennis Daugaard immediately remove Rounds for Senate campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg from the South Dakota Board of Economic Development after an investigative report revealed that Skjonsberg and Mike Rounds profited from state grants Skjonsberg approved as a BED member:

Revealed: A New Ethics Scandal Involving the GOP’s South Dakota Senate Candidate

Documents obtained by The Nation show former Gov. Mike Rounds’ campaign manager may have improperly awarded state economic incentives to firms in which he and the candidate held investments.

Knecht released the following statement in regards to her call to action:

“I have a message for Mike Rounds and Rob Skjonsberg: You don’t have a right to personally profit from the public purse.

I’m sure Governor Dennis Daugaard is just as appalled as I am that someone he trusted to promote economic development used his position to enrich himself and his political patron Mike Rounds.

That’s why I’m calling on Governor Dennis Daugaard to immediately remove Skjonsberg from the Board of Economic Development and clawback any grants or tax incentives provided to companies in which Skjonsberg and Rounds have a financial interest.

I suspect Daugaard will comply. After all, his spokesman Tony Venhuizen has said – and I quote – ‘Certainly for anyone that the Governor has hired or is in his cabinet, [Daugaard] has a very high expectation that we will act in an ethical and moral way.’

It’s clear Skjonsberg and Rounds acted with complete lack of regard for ethics and conflicts of interest.

I look forward to seeing the ‘strong moral leadership‘ that Daugaard takes pride in.”

Knecht demanded Governor Dennis Daugaard immediately take the following actions on behalf of South Dakota taxpayers:

  1. Fire Rob Skjonsberg from the Board of Economic Development
  2. Cancel all state grants to companies in which Rob Skjonsberg and Mike Rounds have a financial interest.
  3. Clawback any grants already distributed to companies in which Rob Skjonsberg and Mike Rounds have a previously undisclosed financial interest.
  4. Release all the documents the Board of Economic Development used in its consideration of the relevant grants.

Mike Rounds

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Zach Crago <zach@sddp.org>
Date: Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 1:29 PM
Subject: BREAKING – Rounds for Senate campaign manager broke rules to line Mike Rounds’ pockets
To:

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 23, 2014

BREAKING
Rounds for Senate campaign manager broke rules to line Mike Rounds’ pockets

Revealed: A New Ethics Scandal Involving the GOP’s South Dakota Senate Candidate

Documents obtained by The Nation show former Gov. Mike Rounds’ campaign manager may have improperly awarded state economic incentives to firms in which he and the candidate held investments.

The Nation
Lee Fang
October 23, 2014

Once viewed as a lock for Republicans, the race for the open US Senate seat in South Dakota is now very competitive as corruption allegations plaguing GOP candidate and former Governor Mike Rounds boost the prospects of his challengers, including Democrat Rick Weiland and independent candidates Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie. In particular, Rounds has been dogged by accusations that an EB-5 visa program heavily promoted by his administration violated the law as it provided American visas to wealthy Chinese investors.

Now, records reveal that the same state agency that oversaw the controversial visa program also extended taxpayer assistance to companies in which Rounds and his campaign manager, Rob Skjonsberg, are investors. Governor Dennis Daugaard, Rounds’ successor and former running mate, appointed a number of Rounds allies along with Skjonsberg to the board that made the investment decisions. [Read more here.]

 

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Senator Tim Johnson sets the record straight on Rounds’ Ellsworth Air Force Base ads

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Senator Tim Johnson sets the record straight on Rounds’ Ellsworth Air Force Base ads

Sioux Falls, SD (October 23, 2014) — Senator Tim Johnson released the following statement to set the record straight on Rounds’ Ellsworth Air Force Base ads:

“I know from my own personal experience that the paid political advertisement being run by candidate Mike Rounds claiming that Rick Weiland wants to close Ellsworth Air Force Base is false. I worked directly with Rick Weiland and Senator Tom Daschle for over a decade to defend Ellsworth Air Force Base from closure. Rick handled briefing materials for us and worked tirelessly as state director to defend, not to close, Ellsworth Air Force Base. I wish former Governor Bill Janklow were still with us because he too knew of and benefited from Rick Weiland’s work to protect Ellsworth.

I will give Mr. Rounds the benefit of the doubt and assume he was unaware of these facts. But if his campaign continues to air this completely false advertising about Rick Weiland, it will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that it and Mr. Rounds are more concerned about political gain than about Ellsworth’s future.

Anyone who has ever worked to defend Ellsworth knows that politicizing the discussion of that critical base is the surest way to jeopardize its future, and that is what this kind of irresponsible political advertising does.”

Senator Tim Johnson Official Photo

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FBI confirms ‘active’ investigation into Mike Rounds EB5 citizenship-for-sale scheme

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BREAKING
FBI confirms ‘active’ investigation into
Mike Rounds EB5 citizenship-for-sale scheme

The Mike Rounds citizenship-for-sale scheme is under an ‘active’ investigation by the FBI according to a breaking report from KELO. South Dakota Democratic Party executive director Zach Crago released the following statement:

“Mike Rounds is clearly in trouble. His citizenship-for-sale scheme resulted in high profile bankruptcies, lawsuits, audits, legislative hearings, and now a confirmed ‘active’ investigation by the FBI.

The fact is Mike Rounds ran the EB5 program out of the Governor’s Office, and he’s been covering up his role in the EB5 scandal ever since.

South Dakotans just cant trust Mike Rounds to tell the truth, and the FBI knows it.”

FBI Says EB-5 Investigation Remains ‘Active’
Keloland.com
October 22, 2014, 12:44 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

The FBI says an investigation into the South Dakota Regional Center and the federal EB-5 program is still ‘active.’

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard announced a year ago that the state economic development office was under investigation by state and federal officials. A spokesman with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services later confirmed last November that the FBI investigation involved the EB-5 program.

South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson has refused to confirm or deny an investigation into the federal program as the circumstances surrounding EB-5 have become a heavily-debated issue in the race for South Dakota’s open U.S. Senate seat.

However, on Wednesday Kyle Loven, the media coordinator for the FBI’s regional office in Minneapolis, confirmed to KELOLAND News that the probe into the EB-5 program in South Dakota, ‘remains an active investigation.’ Loven wouldn’t confirm any other details citing that the case is ongoing.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in July that the state has wrapped up its investigation and was ready to indict former South Dakota Secretary of Tourism and State Development Richard Benda shortly before Benda committed suicide last October.

EB5 Citizenship-for-sale  Kings Joop Bollen & Mike Rounds

EB5 Citizenship-for-sale Kings Joop Bollen & Mike Rounds

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FACT SHEET from EB5 depositions: Mike Rounds owns EB5 scandal

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FACT SHEET from EB5 depositions:

Mike Rounds owns EB5 scandal

Sioux Falls, SD (October 21) – Mike Rounds owns the EB5 scandal. That much is clear after an exhaustive analysis of EB5 depositions filed under penalty of perjury, says Zach Crago, Executive Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

“Mike Rounds has tried to lay all the blame for the EB5 scandal on the Board of Regents. But EB5 depositions make clear that Mike Rounds’ office was fully in charge of the EB5 program, and there is no amount of finger pointing and amending of testimony that can change this indisputable fact.”

The South Dakota Democratic Party produced the following fact sheet from depositions leaked from EB5 litigation (also attached):

Governors Office of Economic Development ran EB5 – not Board of Regents

When it comes to the EB5 scandal, Mike Rounds has made it clear that the Board of Regents bears all the blame. In his written testimony to the Government Operations & Audit Committee and public statements, Rounds said:

The truth is a different matter. Mike Rounds’ Governor’s Office of Economic Development was clearly in charge of the EB5 program, according to depositions from state officials under penalty of perjury. Here is a summary of GOED’s role in the EB5 program:

  1. GOED was the first public body interested in EB5 (Bollen, 10)
  2. GOED granted Joop Bollen’s South Dakota International Business Institute authority to run the EB5 program. (Meyer, 23; Meyer, 39; Meyer, 50; Bollen, 126-127; Bollen, 131; Bollen 216; Bollen, 230)
  3. GOED funded Joop Bollen’s EB5 activities with “negligible” resources and “limited” cooperation with NSU. (Meyer, 25; Bollen, 63; Bollen 130; Bollen, 340)
  4. GOED and Department of Agriculture selected investment projects for the EB5 program. (Meyer, 60; Bollen, 11; Bollen, 13; Bollen, 36; Bollen, 135)
  5. GOED assigned Bollen’s duties. (Meyer, 26)
  6. Bollen reported primarily to GOED – not NSU. (Meyer, 28; Meyer, 34; Bollen, 129; Bollen 152)
  7. Bollen submitted his budgets to GOED – not NSU. (Meyer, 34-35)
  8. GOED participated in meetings concerning problems in the EB5 program. (Meyer, 56; Bollen 64)
  9. GOED signed immigrant investor recruitment contracts with Bollen. (Meyer, 57)
  10. GOED used its letterhead for EB5 authorization documents (Meyer, 66; Bollen, 78)

In short, the Board of Regents was not in charge of the EB5 program. Mike Rounds’ office granted Bollen authority to run the EB5 program, funded his EB5 activities, selected projects for EB5 funding, assigned Bollen’s responsibilities, and received regular reports among other things.

The fact is Mike Rounds owns the EB5 scandal – and there’s no amount of amending testimony that can make up for the parade of documents that contradict Rounds’ previous statements.

The EB5 depositions can be found at the links below:

DEPOSITION: John Meyer, Northern State University attorney
DEPOSITION: James Shekleton, Board of Regents General Counsel
DEPOSITION: Joop Bollen, EB5 program director

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Whistleblower releases more EB5 depositions

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 17, 2014

Whistleblower releases more EB5 depositions

DEPOSITION: John Meyer, Northern State University attorney
DEPOSITION: James Shekleton, Board of Regents General Counsel

Sioux Falls, SD (October 17) – A whistleblower has released more EB5 depositions after the Board of Regents continued to withhold public EB5 records without any legal authority to do so in order to protect Republican US Senate candidate Mike Rounds who championed the scandalized EB5 program as governor.

The documents can be found at the links below:

DEPOSITION: John Meyer, Northern State University attorney
DEPOSITION: James Shekleton, Board of Regents General Counsel

###

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