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Federal Government Ends State's EB-5 Participation; Democrats Say Move Proves Wrong-Doing

The Federal Government is citing administrative issues in ending South Dakota’s participation in a foreign investment-for-green-card program, known as E-B-5.  The U-S Citizenship and Immigration Services has ruled the state’s regional center for the program is not promoting economic growth.  Officials add administrators have not submitted required information. SDPB’s Gary Ellenbolt has more.

E-B-5 was often mentioned in the 20-14 U-S Senate race, won by former Governor Mike Rounds, with several allegations of illegal conduct.  South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says his office took a thorough look at state government’s role with the program.

Jackley says, “With respect to the program, obviously, I as attorney general as well as the federal authorities looked at the EB-5 program—not from a civil, contract issue or who’s responsible, but from a criminal investigation.  And as I have previously indicated, as Attorney General, that there was illegal conduct, and was preparing to move forward on that conduct, until such time as there was the suicide.”

The head of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Richard Benda, was found dead in Charles Mix County.  Officials determined he shot himself.  The head of the State’s Democratic Party, Suzanne  Jones Pranger, says the federal decision proves there was wrong-doing in the E-B-5 operation.

Jones Pranger says, “The fact that the federal government has determined that South Dakota cannot adequately administer the funds, obviously many of the problems listed by the federal government included things that were happening when administration of the EB-5 program was through the private organization.  But the notice that the federal agency gave did include statements saying that state government, once it returned to controlling and administering the EB-5 program, continued to have issues with the reporting and things like that.”

The issue is now in civil court according to Attorney General Marty Jackley.  He says anything left in the E-B-5 debate is out of his jurisdiction.