I’ve been working since 2009 to get South Dakota voters to pay attention to the stinky business of selling green cards to foreign investors via the EB-5 visa investment program. Jason Ravnsborg chickened out of challenging Mike Rounds on EB-5 in the 2014 Senate primary; Rick Weiland and Larry Pressler tried hammering Rounds with EB-5 in the 2014 general but got nowhere.
Maybe Kristi Noem and her million-dollar campaign chest will finally get the message across. She’s attacking Marty Jackley for his involvement with the EB-5 scandal, which made tens of millions of dollars go poof in just one foreign-funded project, Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen, and resulted in one suicide and one judicial slap on the wrist. Out of all those mysterious missing millions, Noem is pointing an accusatory finger at Jackley over a mere $5 million missing from accounts managed by SDRC Inc., the corporate shell that South Dakota EB-5 czar Joop Bollen used to privatize his state job and gob-tuple his profits and keep EB-5 off the state books.
Team Jackley flusters about, cackling, What $5 million?… rather as they’ve cockatooed about any serious questions raised about South Dakota’s mishandling of EB-5. To remind you all what $5 million, please review the United States Customs and Immigration Service letter of September 28, 2015, reported on this blog on October 22, 2015, which finds South Dakota too unreliable and incompetent, if not downright corrupt, to handle EB-5 visa investments. Among other reasons, USCIS cites five million unaccounted-for dollars:
Now that’s Washington saying South Dakota lost track of $5 million, so Jackley will probably try to shrug that off as he does most of what Noem says as just some Washington nonsense. The problem for Jackley is that the sky doesn’t become orange just because someone in Washington says it’s blue. USCIS found that five-million-dollar discrepancy in South Dakota’s EB-5 books. South Dakota has never explained that discrepancy, and Jackley isn’t explaining it now.
Jackley became Attorney General in 2009, when that office was aware of legal shenanigans besetting the EB-5 program and threatening the state with millions in liability. Jackley fumbled through inconsistent explanations for his lack of inquiry into the patently shady dealings of EB-5 back in 2014. EB-5 is complicated, so Noem may just be trying to tap Jackley with tiny chunks that Republican voters can process in the few remaining days before the primary.
But she’s right to tap him, and she should keep tapping and whacking on EB-5, harder every time, because I have yet to hear Marty Jackley give a good explanation for what happened in EB-5, where the missing $5 million and millions more went, and why he didn’t do more to rein that scam in.
Keep after EB-5, Kristi. Contrary to the spin of that GOP blog on which you waste good money, there’s a there there, for which Marty Jackley and other of your fellow Republicans should be held accountable.