U.S. House candidate Hawks calls for the expiration of controversial EB-5 program
U.S. House of Representatives candidate Paula Hawks is calling to put an end to South Dakota's controversial EB-5 visa program.
Hawks, a Democratic State Representative from Hartford, said the troubled program should be allowed to expire next month. Hawks, who will square off with three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem in November's general election, announced her stance on the program in a news release issued Tuesday.
"We only know of one reform that will work," Hawks said. "Let the program expire September 30 so we stop wasting taxpayer money on its administration and on lawsuits over the fraudulent activity connected to this program."
The program has been hampered by scandal in South Dakota, with former program administrator Joop Bollen having allegedly diverted more than $1.2 million in funding meant to protect the state against losses incurred by the program.
The visa program was also a focal point in the October 2013 death of Richard Benda, the former head of the Department of Tourism and State Development. Benda would later be accused of stealing state funds intended for a meatpacking operation participating in the EB-5 program.
As the election approaches, Hawks questioned Noem's efforts to reform the program.
"It's interesting to hear Kristi Noem flex about her power on the Ways and Means Committee, but then consistently watch her fail South Dakota over and over again on issues like Eb-5 reform," Hawks said. "He words don't match her actions when it comes to reducing government waste and increasing oversight."
Hawks is currently on a town hall tour across the state, and she will visit Mitchell at 6 p.m. on Aug. 9 at the LifeQuest building at 804 N. Mentzer St.
- South Dakota
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