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:
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:
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.