GOAC Members Sutton & Tapio Unsatisfied with State’s Responses to GEAR UP

The SDGOP spin blog desperately wants you to believe that the state is responding to the GEAR UP/Mid-Central scandal with all due diligence and that anyone making claims to the contrary is only seeking to boost political standing or TV ratings. (If you haven’t been paying attention, the SDGOP spin blog means Republican Senator Stace Nelson and reporter Angela Kennecke.)

We can predict that the SDGOP spin blog will so sniffle-piffle at Democratic Senator Billie Sutton, who sat through today’s Government Operations and Audit Committee hearing and came away unconvinced that the state has nothing more to answer for for the scandal it made possible in Platte:

Sen. Billie Sutton
Sen. Billie Sutton

It is disturbing to confirm that some state officials had early awareness there were problems with the GEAR-UP program. Taxpayers deserve to know exactly who knew what when and who should be held accountable for each failure.

I support the full use of this committee’s power to root out this collapse of management that resulted in the misuse of millions of taxpayer money and the tragic loss of life. We cannot fix problems if smokescreens prevent us from knowing what caused the problems in the first place.

It has become clear that we must get to the bottom of this in order to move forward, fix the system, and prevent another tragedy. South Dakotans deserve better [Senator Billie Sutton, press release, 2017.08.29].

Sutton’s colleague on GOAC, Republican Senator Neal Tapio, expresses similar dissatisfaction over what he’s heard about GEAR UP and Mid-Central:

Sen. Neal Tapio

The state of South Dakota’s position on the matching dollars/$5+million valuation of donated Microsoft software for the GearUp program, as indicated by Sec. Schopp, is “the US Department of Education has signed off on the valuation.”

The US Department of Education signed off on the matching software value on a conditional basis. After the fire, and claims that it is not possible to prove usage, the USDOE advised the state that barring new information, they will accept the valuation.

After a legislative audit, it was determined most of the software was never used. South Dakota officials appear to believe it isn’t within their scope of responsibility to notify the US Dept. of Education of the new information.

I can not stand by and accept the position of the state. I believe withholding information to be fraud.

I will be making a formal request of the Governor of South Dakota to notify the US Department of Education of a new valuation of the Microsoft software. Donated, yet never utilized and expired software licenses does not have value.

To understand the position of the state, it might be best to ask this question.

If I determine a mistake was made on my 2012 tax return that came out in my favor in the amount of $5 million, do I have a legal obligation to amend my tax returns with the proper Federal Authorities, in this case the IRS, to reflect this new information?

I would hope everyone involved within state government would answer in the affirmative.

Smokescreens, says Sutton. Fraud, says Tapio. Those are pretty stiff words from Senators from opposite sides of the aisle.

Sure, Sutton is running for governor, and Tapio is rumored to be running for U.S. House. But with this much strong language coming this quickly after a hearing that the GOP establishment surely wishes would have put GEAR UP to bed, the SDGOP spin blog may have to update its position that GEAR UP/Mid-Central is just political posturing and ratings-seeking.

10 Responses to GOAC Members Sutton & Tapio Unsatisfied with State’s Responses to GEAR UP

  1. I think Mr. Sutton is posturing, and Mr. Tapio probably doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about. You can just tell. Plus, like Mr. Nelson would say, I’ve heard other people say so about both of them.

  2. I think Neal is correct, if the licenses were never used they have no value, and the matching funds need to be returned. But isn’t that why the state DOE is suing the school districts, to get the money back? Didn’t Dr Schopp say they wanted to get it back in case the federal DOE wants it returned?
    I am so tired of hearing people grandstand over the deaths of the Westerhuis family. That tragedy really doesn’t have anything to do with it; Scott Westerhuis was a family annihilator. Family annihilators don’t need an excuse to kill their families. They just do it. I learned about family annihilators when I was 11 years old, when the boy who sat next to me in school was a victim of one.
    There was no fraud, no scandal, just a lethal combination of clinical depression and narcissistic personality disorder. That’s how they roll.
    No action or inaction on the part of anybody else created the mental illness that resulted in the deaths of the Westerhuis family. I wish people would drop it.

  3. Leave the psycho-analysis to professionals, Anne. You obviously don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

  4. Anne, you’re working too hard to protect the Republican establishment and the corruption it allowed to metastasize. The murders and arson in Platte did not happen in a vacuum. They were triggered by the DOE cutting off the flow of federal cash that allowed criminals to keep their crimes hidden. The killer is certainly responsible for pulling the trigger and lighting the match, but the DOE’s years-long lack of oversight over friends of friends set the stage for those heinous actions as the conclusion of a long series of heinous actions.

    There was most clearly fraud. Attorney General Marty Jackley is contending in court there was fraud. Auditor General Guindon has said there were illegal contracts moving money without authorization. There is most definitely a scandal, bad actions that lots of people are talking about and that reflect poorly on the cooperative and state government.

  5. Anne is South Dakota.

  6. Porter Lansing

    Anne Beal is trying to throw a giant quilt of misdirection over the investigation. Why? To protect her Republican party from the embarrassment they’ve earned. Voters hold the key to re-open the “treasure chest of South Dakota dignity”, locked away by Republican malfeasance.

  7. Lars Aanning

    Never heard more talking-points jargon, double-talk nonsense, mumbo-jumbo skywriting, and exotic buffalo-poop as from state officials testifying at the GOAC hearings yesterday. Any real business executive, college professor, or just any thinking person, would have flunked their lame and spineless excuses. Chair Senator Deb Peters allowed this hilariously sad circus to go on, and on, and on, as a tribute to those who are in government for their own profit…

  8. The state needs to crack down on this.

    I remember going to Pierre 10-15 years ago and hearing these rumors. I was a high school student then, but the tone was set, no one wants to live in Pierre, so those that have jobs, have had jobs for a long time, they have gotten their friends into higher places that they should and corrupt things were occurring. It happens.

  9. Darrell Solberg

    We need State Government oversight and transparency. We need an Independent Ethics Commission, we need to get big money out of politics. All of this would have been taken care of with the voters passed IM-22, but the power hungry Legislature wanted to protect their ability to govern at will, so they overturned IM-22. When are the voters going to wise up and quite electing the perpetrators of these questionable actions? You can help us by signing the Anti-Corruption Amendment petition to get it on the ballot in 2018. It is time to clean up politics as usual in S.D. and the Anti-Corruption Amendment is a good start.

  10. Along with the legal reform Darrell seeks (keep pushing that ballot measure synergy, Darrell!), Joe get me thinking we could use some geographical reform. Maybe having a company town (where the company is state government) as a state capital is unhealthy. Maybe it’s time to move the capital, to bring a little more daily transparency to state government and job freedom to state employees.