Bob Mercer notices that LRC is posting documents for the Government Operations and Audit Committee’s meeting next week in Sioux Falls. Among the items jumping onto GOAC’s Thursday, October 5 (and Friday, October 6, if discussion runs long) agenda is a brief letter from accountants Schoenfish & Co., Inc., relaying how GEAR UP scamster Scott Westerhuis said he financed the $900,000 gym on his property:
It is expected of auditors to ask questions of employees of the organization they are auditing. In addition, we frequently carry this procedure one step further. As a typical procedure, we routinely drive by the key financial person’s residence or farm in most of our audits. We asked about the gym and other improvements on his acreage. He indicated that [his] mother was helping him financially. According to the Charles Mix County directory substantiated in our audit file, his mother owned 760 acres of farmland. This would certainly indicate financial means for contributing to the improvements on his acreage. As indicated in our original response, the gym was never acknowledged to be an asset of Gear-Up or Mid Central Educational Cooperative by any individual, management or in any representations provided to us by management [Schoenfish & Co., unsigned letter to Department of Legislative Audit and Government Operations and Audit Committee, 2017.09.22].
The average cash rental rate for farmland in Charles Mix and Douglas counties topped out at $157.90 in 2014. That’s $120,000 in rent Ma Westerhuis might have made. She’d have paid some property tax and federal income tax and maybe had five figures left to help her son pay the mortgage on his big, big property.
However, sources around Platte have told me that Westerhuis told them he was able to afford the gym thanks to some lucky investments. Apparently he had a different story for the auditors, who were curious enough to drive by the Westerhuis estate and scope out his lavish construction but not curious enough to notice or raise alarms about the accumulated discrepancies in Mid-Central’s monthly financial reports of over $3.4 million.
Related: The Platte Ministerial Association has acquired and reopened Westerhuis’s property as the New Hope Christian Camp and Retreat Center. They are hosting a women’s sewing and crafting retreat this weekend.