- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Former Gov. Mike Rounds said on Thursday that he submitted incorrect information to a committee investigating the handling of a program offering green cards to immigrants who invested in South Dakota.

Rounds, who has been criticized during his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat over lapses in the visa program, said in written statements to the Government Operations and Audit Committee last week that “the governor’s office was not served” with lawsuit papers regarding the state’s handling of the EB-5 program. The state is defending a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by a California company, Darley International, which had an agreement to recruit investors in China for South Dakota projects. Rounds, a Republican, was governor at the time of some of the program’s mismanagment.

But Rounds on Thursday sent a letter to the head of the committee asking for permission to change his original response hours after the Rapid City Journal posted on its website (https://bit.ly/1vxBa8I ) a summons showing that Rounds’ office was served with papers pertaining to the lawsuit in July 2009.

“It has come to our attention that the governor’s office was indeed secondarily notified of the Board of Regent’s petition order,” Rounds wrote to state Sen. Larry Tidemann. “An assistant in the governor’s office had received the notification. As a clerical function, we assume the document was simply forwarded to the Board of Regents, the attorney general’s office or the general counsel. I had not seen that particular document until yesterday, October 1, 2014.”

Before Rounds asked to amend his response, his campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg told the newspaper in a statement that the former governor doesn’t recall ever seeing it.

“State government is sued frequently and the governor, any governor, would not necessarily see every summons delivered to the state,” Skjonsberg said. “This is a clerical, process issue and Mike wasn’t a party to this petition.”

Zach Crago, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said the document makes it “clear to me that Mike Rounds is withholding information from the press, from the public and from state legislators that were tasked to look into the state’s bungled mismanagement of the EB-5 program.”

South Dakota was one of the pioneers in EB-5 financing under the program’s former state administrator Joop Bollen and Richard Benda, the former secretary of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. But in recent years, South Dakota’s EB-5 program has been investigated by state and federal authorities. Benda killed himself last year as state officials were preparing felony theft charges.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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