The Good: The EB-5 Investment Program has contributed to economic development across South Dakota from electric power generation to wind energy to the Dakota Provisions Turkey Plant. These are important jobs that provide income and health care for families across South Dakota.
The Bad: The program has necessitated investigation into misuses of security interests and state grant funds, resulting in a felony conviction. While monies from the charges have all been returned, it was wrong and a crime to have taken them. The sentencing law that required probation tied the hands of prosecutors and the judge in this matter. This law needs to be revisited.
The Ugly: The loss of a father and former S.D. Secretary of Tourism and State Development. In addition, tactics by federal investigators out of D.C. during the prior administration’s investigation reflected poorly on local and state law enforcement that were cooperating in an effective investigation.
These federal investigators used overly aggressive tactics like telling witnesses they could not contact an attorney, serving subpoenas on cooperating witnesses at their places of employment, and disclosing information about ongoing investigations that just happened to make its way into political ads.
These tactics unnecessarily politicized the issue, as seen in a recent press release by a political party suggesting that state prosecutors should have refused a felony plea and conviction, and the court should have ignored the law requiring probation. Fortunately, both Democrat and Republican prosecutors in this state do not conduct the people’s business in such a fashion.
The Future: Both Republicans and Democrats in the South Dakota Legislature are working to strengthen public integrity laws. The State Senate unanimously passed a bill sponsored by the attorney general to counteract criminal self-dealings and conflicts of interest. This important legislation provides whistleblower protections for employees who report crimes and removes the required probation that has limited the sentencing discretion for both prosecutors and courts in EB-5 and other financial crime cases.
- South Dakota
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