Two of the main targets in the administering of the EB-5 program in South Dakota have answered the questions submitted by the Government Operations and Audit Committee.

Former Governor Mike Rounds and current Governor Dennis Daugaard gave their accounts of contract negotiations, money movement and general oversight.  Obviously, more of the questions were pertaining to Rounds handling of the program as the top of the governmental list.  Daugaard’s answers are a little less revealing seemingly due to his role as Lieutenant Governor at the time.

One particular inquiry referred to a timing aspect as the two administrations transitioned:

#8.  Why is Governor Dennis Daugaard pointing the finger at the Rounds administration but former Governor Mike Rounds says the check is the Daugaard administration’s fault?

(The reference is to $1 million grant that Richard Benda was to forward to Northern Beef Packers.)

Daugaard’s answer:  There is no finger pointing.  With any state payment, the official authorizing payment directs whether the payment is to be made electronically, by a mailed check, or by a hand-delivered check.  Before he left his position as Secretary, Richard Benda personally authorized the issuance of the $1 million check to NBP and directed that the check be held for him so that he could deliver it personally.  The State Auditor’s office processed the request for payment according to Benda’s instructions.  

Rounds’ answer:  The question appears incorrect on both points.  As has been reported, the “check” is a product of NBP meeting their requirement set forth in the contract.  The chronology or date of the check leaving state government and the manner in which it was delivered – I cannot speak to – as I was in the private sector and no longer governor.  

As a whole, Rounds and Daugaard are making the case that more responsibility of supervision lies with the South Dakota Board of Regents and Northern State University.