The Dakota Free Press has a raging thread going on that reveals why corruption is so successful in South Dakota. It reported on Bob Mercer's newspaper report that the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services has notified the state that it is disqualifying South Dakota from participation in the EB-5 program because of corrupt practices. In response to Cory Heidelberger's post, some GOP loyalists say his liberal bias disqualifies everything he reports as anti-conservative speculation. One commenter insists that there are no crimes involved outside of Cory's speculations because no charges have been filed against specific persons. If there were any substance to the accusations of corruption, the misinformation and illogic contends, there would be charges filed. The argument states that some of the revealed incidents might be unethical, but a violation of ethics is not a crime. Therefore, the accusations of corruption in state government are without foundation.
1 having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain: unscrupulous logging companies assisted by corrupt officials.
• evil or morally depraved: the play can do no harm since its audience is already corrupt.
• archaic (of organic or inorganic matter) in a state of decay; rotten or putrid: a corrupt and rotting corpse.
The defense of greed and perfidy is articulated by the conservative comments on the Free Press blog, with a thread of more than 300 comments. What is disconcerting to outside observers is that the defense of nefarious activity takes on the aspect of representing the dominant culture of the state. In other words, state government is corrupt because a majority of the people condone corruption.
The deniers contend that the record of perfidious transactions and missing money do not denote corruption. They further contend that the failure of the state or the U.S. Dept. of Justice to file criminal charges absolves the state of any accusations of corruption.
Over the course of the developments of the EB-5 scam, one of the commenters has insisted that the loss of over a hundred million dollars by Asian investors is business as usual for South Dakota. He said the Chinese investors knew that their investments were a risk and what happened to them is not a consideration. It is just business.
However, the investors do not share that attitude. They understood that they were investing venture capital for which there is the risk of failure, but they also expected that a state-sponsored agency would not be involved in embezzlement and fraud. Or that a program would be run in such a way that the money could not be accounted for. And it is in that expectation that the impetus for the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services to ban South Dakota from participation in any further EB-5 activity arises.
Northern State University has a long relationship with Chinese nationals. (I have been these adviser for Chinese graduate students.) While the press has not covered what has happened to the Chines and Korean EB-5 investors or how they have responded to the failure of Northern Beef Packers, it is difficult to be associated with NSU and not be aware of of the concerns of those investors. With the establishment of the Confucius Institute on the Northern campus, the relationship with the Chinese is closer and more sensitive to factors that affect it. The bilking of investors cannot be ignored, and the pressure exerted to obtain an accounting of how the investments were handled is a constant presence. The U. S Immigration and Citizenship Services is the agency on which those concerns are registered. It has an ombudsman to help resolve issues that confront holders and applicants for green cards. The status of green cards for the EB-5 investors is an obvious and serious factor that the agency must deal with, although it is an issue seldom mentioned in reports and discussions of the EB-5 debacle. Consequently, it is also of concern to Northern State University which has developed an important relationship with China. The State of South Dakota and the Justiice Department may decline, for whatever reasons, to pursue the evidence, but the people who have invited Chinese and Korean interest cannot so easily dismiss the obligation to provide honesty and frankness in their dealings.
The denial of responsibility for any wrong-doing to people of the state and the EB-5 investors is a matter of basic cultural values. The revelation of how deeply and firmly that bilking, perfidy, greed, and dishonesty has been ingrained in a portion of the population as a legitimate business activity is cause for alarm. It raises the question of why anyone would do business in a state governed by such principles.
The Dakota Free Press gives an outline of the political dividing points in South Dakota and portrays a conservative mental attitude that possesses much of the American right wing. The Godfather and The Sopranos may be good stories, but some people regard these tales of the mafia as scriptural dicta. A large portion of the South Dakota population has been conditioned as Manchurian candidates to not only condone predatory financial schemes but to encourage and facilitate them.