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Schopp to GOAC: No GEAR UP Cash Missing, State Owes Feds Nothing

In over three hours of testimony to the the Government Operations and Audit Committee in Pierre yesterday, Secretary of Education Melody Schopp said none of the money that Scott Westerhuis and his helpers stole from the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative before his spectacular murder-suicide in September 2015 was stolen from the feds or her department:

State government’s Department of Legislative Audit determined $1.4 million was missing after finishing a special review of Mid Central Educational Cooperative at Platte.

Auditor General Marty Guindon released the review May 19.

But Schopp said Monday the money didn’t come from Gear Up funds her department oversaw.

“That is the biggest takeaway—there was no Gear Up money stolen,” Schopp said. “They were not from Gear Up funds, as has been promoted in the last couple of years.”

She added, “It was not misappropriated from the state” [Bob Mercer, “Schopp Says No Missing Money Came from GEAR UP Program,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.07.24].

Secretary Schopp also noted that the feds have accepted the valuation of software used to satisfy GEAR UP grant matching requirements and have not asked the state to pay back any GEAR UP money. That puzzles me a bit, since the state last month sued Mid-Central and its members schools for $4.5 million, largely to recover missing matching funds.

Secretary Schopp’s statements seem geared toward keeping GOAC and Uncle Sam off her department’s back and out of her department’s budget. I am skeptical: business manager Scott Westerhuis was able to use Mid-Central’s bank accounts as his personal ATM in no small part because the state funneled millions of dollars from multiple federal programs into a small rural school cooperative (on the former education secretary’s home turf) whose staff was too small to provide proper oversight. The Department of Legislative Audit may have found that Westerhuis was able to put back all but $1.4 million of the $7.8 million he illegally withdrew, but when Westerhuis was moving money around, the presence of millions of federal GEAR UP dollars on the books made it much easier for him to hide his crimes.


  1. jerry 2017-07-25 12:32

    There is a simple explanation, cult republican math. See, cult republicans deliver on something like a balanced budget with several million in the black while saying that the tax income from sales and so on, are way down. Most of us in the real world call this form of actuarial bookkeeping what it really is, fraud or cooking the books. By doing the math this way, it will mean more tax payer millions to a selected few of the members of the cult. Scott and his gang did not actually steal any money at all, it seems to be accounted for, so that is that. Oh, and the reason the state filed the failed suit is because that is what a failure like Jackley does, grab some headlines on things that line his pockets like what happened with the EB5. Same old story line.

  2. mikeyc, that's me! 2017-07-25 14:41

    Same old story. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  3. Robin Friday 2017-07-25 15:21

    Not stolen from the Feds? Do tell. Then where did it come from?

  4. Greg 2017-07-25 16:07

    She is not lying, she wasn’t under oath.

  5. Donald Pay 2017-07-25 17:27

    Nothing’s missing? Puh-lease.

    This is Republican accounting and accountability. Originally, the method was used to put money into little pots all over the state budget. It was done this way to hide it from Legislators and the public. They dip into these pots of money at will, sometimes legally, other times illegally. If they steal from one, they simply move money from one pot to another in order to cover themselves. They get caught taking from that pot, well, there’s another one to dip into.

    This is common practice in Pierre, and Schopp knows it. This sort of money churning was particularly used in several water conservancy districts in the 1980s. It involved legislators, state boards, academics and water conservancy districts in west river. That was small amounts of money compared to what Schopp was churning.

  6. John 2017-07-25 19:57

    Independent audit. Problem solved.
    The rhinos will never do it.

  7. Jason 2017-07-26 08:40

    Our state government is openly corrupt. The political class of this state knowingly colludes with corrupt players who steal from the state and federal treasury.
    What kind of government do we have? It feels more and more like a Kleptocracy … “rule by thieves”. The thieves are sanctioned by the government to embezzle public funds for their private profit.

  8. leslie 2017-07-26 16:39

    There is apparently another story about what happened with GEAR UP executives in the corruption, arson and murders that hasn’t come out yet, widely.

    Wonder if the taxpayers/voters will ever get the true story out of the state?

  9. Mary Perpich 2017-07-27 09:36

    Her testimony makes no sense. Does she really believe that no money is missing or is she scrambling the books to hide the loss?

  10. Dustin VanderPol 2017-08-13 11:36

    What’s the big deal havnt you ever been involved in a cover-up before? ………….what’s the worst that could happen the higher up’s send hit teams after you, LOL. iv been there done that, it’s also a great stress reliever.
    yes ted turner is/was a big drug dealer and has all the dirt on jackley, so jackley had no choice but to try to frame me……….what a dumb F—

    don’t jackley know what I do for a living “I’m a farmer”

    jackley for prision 2017
    jackley for prision 2017

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-08-13 21:58

    Hey, Dustin VP, I’m going to need some evidence if you’re going to accuse Ted Turner (the Ted Turner, right? TBS, CNN, buffalo?) of criminal activity. I’m even more interested in your connecting us to the information you allege Mr. Turner has on Jackley.

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