- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The Democrat running for South Dakota governor said Thursday that, if elected, she would fire anyone in state government who knew about reported fraud in the EB-5 investment program.

Rep. Susan Wismer, of Britton, said she would also sue to get money from the former administrator of the program, Joop Bollen, which should go to the state.

Wismer also said that though she earlier offered to let another Democrat sit in for her spot on the Government Operations and Audit Committee at the next meeting on Sept. 24 to avoid a distraction, she “will be that person” who pursues answers.

Wismer’s statements come a day after state Democratic Party executive director Zach Crago accused some current and former state leaders of keeping secret a lawsuit currently in arbitration in California related to the program. South Dakota was sued in the breach of contract lawsuit, which alleges that Bollen acted without authority in recruiting through the EB-5 program.

Crago said Bollen hid the lawsuit from his bosses at Northern State University and the South Dakota Board of Regents, and then they and state leaders kept it from the public when they finally found out.

Attorney General Marty Jackley sent documentation to reporters showing that general details of the lawsuit had been included in 2010 and 2011 reports to lawmakers.

Crago said taxpayers might have to pay out millions of dollars, but the lawyer handling the case in California said the risk for the state losing was low because “the claim of damages is speculative and the underlying claims are uncertain.”

Bollen has declined to comment.

Democrats have tried to link problems with the program to former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat, and current GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard, both of whom have said they were unaware of any wrongdoing and have cooperated with investigators. Daugaard is seeking re-election.

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