Republicans are so scared that South Dakotans will demand accountability for corruption in Pierre that their spin blogger Pat Powers now must distract us from the rotten fruits of corruption by accusing reformers of dancing on children’s graves.
The GOP spin blog has no response to the substantive charges afoot on the corruption of GEAR UP, EB-5, and Jason Gant. But Sioux Falls columnist Stu Whitney does: transparency in government.
It’s an attainable goal to place glass walls around the machinery in Pierre, but it takes leadership. Daugaard and Rounds are so busy distancing themselves and finding scapegoats in the GEAR UP and EB-5 aftermath that the ability to learn from these debacles is lost.
That’s a non-leadership response. That’s petty self-preservation reserved for lower-rung public officials, not the person in charge of the state.
We need someone with the guts to step up and say public funds were mismanaged to the point where people lost their lives, and that will never happen again. We need someone to lay out steps to avoid such calamities in the future and ensure citizens that stronger background checks, stricter oversight and greater transparency will restore confidence in the process.
Leadership. Courage. Taking risks. Finding solutions.
That’s what the role of governor used to be about. For the sake of our state’s reputation, let’s hope that it is again soon [Stu Whitney, “Financial Misdeeds Put State in Poor Light,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.11.04].
Whitney isn’t dancing on anyone’s grave. He recognizes the horror of the killings in Platte that are widely suspected to be connected to corruption in the DOE–MCEC GEAR UP contract. But he also recognizes that two generations of visionless apparatchiks in Pierre have led us to a dysfunctional political climate in which corruption like GEAR UP, EB-5, and the Gant Secretaryship can blossom. Whitney recognizes that fighting corruption requires courageous leaders, and Whitney recognizes that, right now, we don’t have one in Pierre. Every candidate for Legislature next year should talk about that absence of leadership and what he or she will do to bring transparency to and restore public trust in state government. That’s not dancing on graves; that’s trying to stop the corruption that keeps leading to shotgun deaths in Charles Mix County.
The only dancing here is Pat’s—his constant dancing around the truth. (Check the record: Powers hasn’t written one word about EB-5 since we learned about the USCIS’s affirmation of South Dakota’s corruption of the program from Bob Mercer on October 18.) We aren’t dancing on the graves of the Westerhuis children; Powers is trying to hide his complicity with corruption behind their headstones.