After weeks of prodding from Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City), editorial boards across the state, and Democratic leader Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-Yankton), South Dakota lawmakers agreed on Wednesday to review the state’s involvement in the lucrative EB5 visa program that has snared former Governor Mike Rounds, current Governor Dennis Daugaard, and Attorney General Marty Jackley in controversy.
Here’s the outline of events leading to this point.
1) The Rounds-Daugaard administration helps funnel $150 million for a beef plant from wealthy foreign investors buying green cards through the EB5 visa program the Secretary of Tourism and Economic Development Richard Benda oversees.
2) Governor Mike Rounds kicks in a few million dollars from the state as well as tens of millions in loan guarantees for the beef plant.
3) Secretary Benda grants oversight of the EB5 program to a fellow state employee, who hires Benda to monitor state loans at the end of the Rounds administration.
4) The beef plant goes bankrupt. Millions of dollars are missing. Hundreds of employees lose their paychecks.
5) Secretary Benda is found dead near Lake Andes, SD, after which Governor Dennis Daugaard admits to a federal investigation into the Rounds-Daugaard administration’s office of Economic Development
6) After discovering $550,000 stolen from the state’s future’s funds, Attorney General Marty Jackley refuses to release information surrounding Benda’s death, which was ruled a homicide.
There’s a lot going on here, and we expect more information to come from future investigations…