GEAR UP Mismanagement a State Tragedy

Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605)

GEAR UP Mismanagement a State Tragedy 

Sioux Falls, SD (March 16, 2016)-

Attorney General Marty Jackley hosted a press conference today in Platte describing the results of a criminal investigation into the GEAR UP scandal which marred Mid Central Educational Cooperative (“MCEC”).

In response Suzanne Jones Pranger, Executive Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party said,

“Whether it’s the GEAR UP scandal or EB-5, action taken after-the-fact to provide political cover for those at the top does not resolve the underlying conditions which allow these tragedies to occur in the first place. Until we truly begin to take South Dakota’s lack of oversight and conflict of interest issues seriously, we’re going to continue to witness a significant mismanagement of public money through scandals like GEAR UP and ultimately the loss of public confidence in our institutions.”

South Dakota Democrats introduced several bills this legislative session to combat government misconduct. Each of those measures was killed on a largely party line vote.

Jackley announced the arrest warrants for three individuals connected to the investigation for alleged felonies related to falsification of evidence, conspiracy and grand theft. It is estimated at least a million dollars or more is at issue, including $55,000, in quote, “hush money.”

Jackley did not currently file charges against former Secretary of Education Rick Melmer and former Director of Indian Education Keith Moore who both took hundreds of thousands of dollars from MCEC for “advisory services” related to topics as intangible as “leadership consulting”. Melmer was Secretary of Education when the state secured the original GEAR UP grant in 2005.


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