In South Dakota, there is a corruption pandemic.
I was talking to a friend about where to buy some protective bags for storing things, and he recommended a place, adding that by buying there, one knew was one dealing with a Democrat. The comment was not made out of petty political spite, but out of recognition that the Republican party has adopted a stance that enthusiastically defends and endorse criminality. And being the dominant party in South Dakota, it defines the people of the state in a way that Democrats are loathe to admit: the values supported by the GOP are the values of corporations. Anything that makes money and creates power is good. It’s the way business operates, and the corporate conniving and oppression is the religion the plurality of South Dakotans believe and practice.
Cory Heidelberger expresses the dilemma of Democrats in the state: “I love South Dakota. I want to say good things about South Dakota.” But to say good things about the state, one must ignore the badness that is its dominating characteristic. That badness is expressed through the support of a plurality of South Dakota voters who think that supporting those powers who gull and fleece them puts them in the managing class. This attitude fixes on Make Rounds, the poster boy for denial, dissembling, and outright fraud.
People in the state speak of being “South Dakota nice,” which is the façade of bonhomie which covers a resentful insularity toward people who don’t conform to and endorse the South Dakota attitude. The so-called EB-5 scandal, which should properly be called the South Dakota tradition of corruption, produces the response of many people that they are tired of hearing about it. Some simply do not want to face the fact that there is a huge blemish of corruption on that face of niceness. Others, a plurality, support, endorse, and enable those who practice the creed of greed, power, and corrupt relationships with their corporate gods. They cannot or will not face the looming fact that dominant culture in the state supports and enables corruption, nor can the plurality accept the fact their attitude bears final responsibility for promulgating and protecting the corruption. The corporate gods beam down on them through Mike Rounds’ smile.
The dedication to corrupt obeisance to corporations was established by Bill Janklow and the credit card companies. The state was receiving funds from its corporate arrangements, but Janklow refused to tell State Treasurer Dick Butler how much and where it was banked. Butler was prevented by Janklow from carrying out his duties as state treasurer. Butler tried to initiate investigations into the hidden funds and said they were needed, but Janklow got his Republican cohorts in the legislature to craft and pass a law that would make it a criminal offense if any state officer revealed that any investigation was being made into state government. As a leader in the state legislature, Mike Rounds dutifully herded the bill through, and Butler was faced with criminal charges if he carried out his duties and was accountable to the public, the people who voted him into office.
The corruption of Rounds extends back to the henchman duties he undertook for Janklow. As governor, he carried on in that tradition, hiding behind a legal code that authorizes secrecy in government and enforces unaccountability to the citizens of the state. Rounds’ own testimony and actions in regard to the EB-5 program in the state establishes a remarkable record of nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance during his terms as governor. And thereafter.
When one encounters a campaign on a private lot, one is looking at the roots of corruption: the owners who support Rounds and what he stands for are the ones ultimately responsible for making South Dakota one of the most corrupt states in the nation.
The attorney for the bankrupt Northern Beef Packers, which was so heavily financed through EB-5 money, blithely writes that the transactions that fleeced millions and millions from Chinese and Korean is nothing to be concerned about. It is the customary way government and corporations do business in South Dakota. He dismisses the idea that any scandalous actions are involved as misrepresention by the media and political commentators. He praises Rounds’ leadership and insists that tradition of corruption displayed in the handling of EB-5 investments is the way business is done. And the polls indicate that a plurality of South Dakota voters like and endorse that tradition.
There are many good people in South Dakota who do not think the business of government is to scheme and connive and engage in chicanery. But they are a minority, and do not shape the character of the state. And this boils done to the fact that the culture of South Dakota is nasty. It is not a place of decency and ehonesty and upstanding moral character. And for those who are decent and honest, it Is not a good place to live.
The corruption and corporate morality in the state has produced a demographic shift in that people striving for decency and honesty leave the state, while those who worship the fruits of corruption move in.
A person who left the state after rejecting offers of support to run for U.S. senator a few years back, notes that the plurality in South Dakota is against big government but depends on federal dollars for the state to operate. He is convinced that the plurality should be permitted to live by what it preaches and the taxpayers of the U.S. should be relieved of supporting places like South Dakota. If the polls do predict the outcome of the election, the legislators representing South Dakota will all be members of the tradition of corruption. He points out that the good people will not be represented, but they still have influence in Congress. They can support representatives and senators from other states, and ask them to put restrictions on federal dollars sent to other states that would directly benefit public education, infrasstructure, and prevent state legislatures from using it for their own connivance.
Honesty and integrity cannot be legislated, but perhaps corruption can be controlled. At least until the good people find a decent place to live.