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MEMORANDUM: What a Mike Rounds endorsement means

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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

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

What a Mike Rounds endorsement means

Sioux Falls, SD (October 29, 2014) — The South Dakota Democratic Party released a memorandum to South Dakota editorial boards today as they make final considerations about endorsements in the US Senate race.

South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Zach Crago released the following statement:

“South Dakota reporters have done an incredible job fulfilling the mission of the fourth estate to protect the public interest, especially as it relates to the Mike Rounds EB5 citizenship-for-sale scandal.

South Dakota reporters have exposed rank corruption, self dealing, and personal enrichment during the Mike Rounds administration that had previously remained in the recesses of the Rounds administration. Thanks to South Dakota reporters, light is shining on public corruption that was hidden in the shadows.

We hope South Dakota’s editorial boards will honor their reporters’ work by taking into serious consideration what a Mike Rounds endorsement would mean for the public interest.

Transparency, accountability, and honesty still matter to South Dakota voters who look to the the press to protect the public interest. We’re certain these values still matter to South Dakota editorial boards too.”

The memorandum is copied below:


To: South Dakota editorial boards
From: South Dakota Democratic Party
Date: Monday, October 27, 2014
CC: South Dakota public

Subject: What a Mike Rounds Endorsement Means

The press has always played an important role in our political process. As guardian of the public interest, the “Fourth Estate” has traditionally served as a watchdog of government, a warrior for accountability, and a protector of the public’s right to access public information.

In this traditional vein, the South Dakota press has played an outsized role investigating important issues defining the race for US Senate, including the so-called “Citizenship-for-sale” EB5 scandal plaguing the Rounds for Senate campaign. Reporters investigating Mike Rounds citizenship-for-sale scheme have exposed rank corruption, self dealing, personal enrichment, and the resulting cover up of key documents at the expense of the public interest.

A Mike Rounds endorsement would dishonor your reporters’ work, impugn your publication’s journalistic integrity, and risk your paper’s reputation. Consider the following facts:

Corruption: Mike Rounds fostered a culture of corruption in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

  1. Rounds employee Joop Bollen stole $108 million in EB5 fees[1] that belong to the state of South Dakota through an illegal contract with a company he owned.[2]
  2. Joop Bollen dragged South Dakota into a six year lawsuit in which South Dakota’s own attorneys said he was deceptive and repeatedly “violated South Dakota law.”[3]
  3. Mike Rounds didn’t fire Joop Bollen after he learned about Bollen’s self dealing through the EB5 lawsuit. Rounds rewarded him with a no-bid contract that encouraged deeper corruption.[4]
  4. Now, the FBI is investigating the EB5 program in South Dakota.[5] Such is the “black mark” that Mike Rounds’ tolerance of corruption has brought our State.[6]

Accountability: Mike Rounds has repeatedly made assertions about the EB5 scandal, only to have documents contradict his previous statements.

  1. Mike Rounds told a legislative panel that his office was never served legal papers involving an EB5 lawsuit. The Rapid City Journal proved Rounds was served.[7] Lying to an investigative panel is a class 6 felony whose penalty is disqualification from office.[8]
  2. Mike Rounds told Pierre correspondent Bob Mercer that he did not personally recruit immigrant investors, but Mercer discovered a letter he wrote to recruit immigrant investors.[9]
  3. Mike Rounds tried laying all the blame for the EB5 scandal on the Board of Regents,[10] but court documents, court depositions and contracts show that the Governors Office of Economic Development ran the EB5 program.[11]
  4. Even now, Rounds continues to assert to South Dakotans that EB5 created 5,000 jobs, but a Pierre reporter could only identify a few hundred jobs.[12]

Transparency: Mike Rounds and his appointees have refused to disclose key documents about the EB5 scandal.

  1. Rounds appointee Attorney General Marty Jackley refused to release the autopsy report of Rounds cabinet secretary Richard Benda, whose sudden and tragic death first elevated the EB5 scandal into the public eye.
  2. Mike Rounds appointees at the Board of Regents have repeatedly refused to release documents from the EB5 Darley litigation even after South Dakota taxpayers covered nearly $500,000 in litigation fees that were previously undisclosed.[13]
  3. The Board of Regents refused the free the EB5 files even after the Darley litigation came to a close because they “don’t wish to release it right now.”[14]

What would a Mike Rounds endorsement mean? An endorsement of Mike Rounds to represent South Dakota in the United States Senate endorses the view that theft of South Dakota taxpayer-owned assets is acceptable to South Dakotans.

An endorsement of Mike Rounds to represent South Dakota in the United States Senate endorses the view that honesty from South Dakota public officials is no longer a requirement for holding public office.

And lastly, an endorsement of Mike Rounds to represent South Dakota in the United States Senate, at a time when the FBI may likely take action, places your own paper’s reputation at risk as criminal indictments are announced.


[1] Mitchell Daily Republic, “First EB-5 Payday Topped $13 million for Bollen firm.” 10.24.14

[2] Argus Leader, “State EB-5 director signed deal with his own company.” 9.8.14

[3] Government Operations & Audit Committee, “The Lucas Report.” 9.24.14

[4] KELOLAND, “SD got involved with EB-5 via no-bid contract.” 8.18.14

[5] KELOLAND, “FBI confirms ‘active’ investigation of SD EB-5 program.” 10.22.14

[6] Aberdeen American News, “GOP fails on EB-5 scandal.” 8.6.14

[7] Rapid City Journal, “Document contradicts Rounds’ testimony.” 10.2.14

[8] Rapid City Journal, “Democrats: Rounds broke law, can’t hold office.” 10.8.14

[9] Aberdeen American News, “Rounds signed 2005 recruitment letter.” 10.11.14

[10] Argus Leader, “Rounds: Regents oversaw EB-5.” 9.24.14

[11] Darley litigation, John Meyer Deposition. 4.24.14

[12] Mitchell Daily Republic, “Analysis finds EB-5 jobs data used by Rounds is highly elusive. “10.24.14.”

[13] Argus Leader, “EB-5 attorneys cost state $239k this year.” 9.25.14

[14] Rapid City Journal, “Regents won’t release Bollen deposition.” 10.14.14