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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sometimes the corruption is the people

There are people, some of them native South Dakotans, who detest the state.  They do not think that the state is a place of nice, benign  people who unwittingly elected predatory and devious people into state government.  They think the people responsible for the EB-5, GEAR UP, Secretary of State shambles, and other instances such as the abject cronyism of the current Brown County Commission, are elected into office because they represent the values and attitudes of a majority of the voters. 

A hypocrisy particularly galling to the South Dakota detesters is the state's reliance on federal money while it constantly berates and denigrates programs that help the needy and build the infrastructure.  Leaders of the state garner voter support by flaunting the dishonesty.  They think the EB-5 and GEAR UP schemes are smart and clever, even though some participants  who got caught in the scheming seem to have resorted to suicide and murder to remove themselves from the schemes.  

Federal aid to state budgets, 2012
StateTotal federal aid ($ in thousands)Federal aid as a % of general revenueRanking
South Dakota$1,630,22040.84%4
North Dakota$1,750,13424.76%45
SourceUnited States Census Bureau, "State Government Finances: 2012," accessed February 24, 2014
Staff for Congressional members from other states have reported that the people they work for have been getting calls and letters from South Dakotans who ask if something cannot be done about the mishandling and misuse of money coming into South Dakota through federal programs.  People in nearby states who are aware of the news of the financial scandals have also registered with their  representatives that they resent taxpayer money being put to   dishonest and wasteful use, and they ask if the state cannot be excluded from getting such money and if the federal government does not have the authority to take action when fraud and incompetence are discovered.  

When the state declined to make a thorough investigation and report on the EB-5 scandal, people assumed that the investigation conducted by the FBI would  eventually produce a comprehensive explanation of who was all involved and what they did.  The people were stunned when the Department of Justice dismissed the case saying there was no evidence for any charges.  Requests under the Freedom of Information Act for documents produced by the FBI investigation have not, as yet, been responded to.  However, the absence of any information from the U.S. Attorney's office when there is so much prima facie evidence of wrong doing has cast deep shadows of doubt that extend over party lines.  Congressional sources have said there is a desperation on the part of some South Dakotans who are looking for some accounting from officials who are supposed to be looking out for their interests as citizens.  

The state hides behind the exemptions in state records laws and the absence of a freedom of information law.  In a 2008 ranking, the Better Government Association Integrity Index put South Dakota at the absolute bottom at number 50 among the states.  A 2013 review moved it up to 47, but noted its laws as impediments to any public access to information.  The control and suppression of any information about how the fleecing operations with EB-5 and the Mid-Central Education Coop-GEAR UP grant clearly is designed to deflect any responsibility of government agencies and officials under whose auspices they were run. 

When people resort to appealing to elected officials in other states to rein in the tax money poured into South Dakota and to get control of the graft it spawns,  they indicate that their only hope for a voice in a responsible government is to find an honest politician in another state.  

As long as the vote of  the people chooses the government,  the people are utimatey responsible for what kind of government they have.  Corruption has deep sources in South Dakota. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States