PIERRE, S.D (KELO- AM) - As Attorney General, I am disappointed to have read certain Editorials relating to the state’s investigation into the $550,000 diversion of funds to the federal EB-5 program. Because it is uncharacteristic of reputable news sources to present inaccurate information to the public, I hope they take this opportunity to present accurate information to their readers. I absolutely agree with the view that “The diversion of $550,000 in state funds should be investigated by the state.” It was in fact the Attorney General’s investigation that uncovered the diversion of these funds. As stated in the Attorney General’s November 21, 2013, letter to the Governor, in addition to evidence of double voucher billings in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Attorney General identified a concern with the $550,000 diversion. Specifically, the Governor released the Attorney General report that:
“On or about December 8, 2010, the South Dakota Department of Tourism agreed to issue payments on a reimbursement basis for construction or equipment costs not to exceed one million dollars to Northern Beef Packers LP. In late January of 2011, State check #99697504 in the amount of one million dollars was issued and delivered to Northern Beef Packers LP. However, $550,000 of said one million dollars was redirected from its intended purpose and purportedly used to pre-pay EB-5 loan monitoring fees for the South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. (SDRC).” See attachment A. (Attorney General letter to Governor)
The law and rules of ethics specifically do not permit the Attorney General to release certain private and criminal justice information, including matters obtained during the Grand Jury process. The fact that I did not violate state law or my ethical duties by revealing additional information does not mean, as has been suggested, that no investigation occurred or that state, local or federal prosecutors are not fulfilling their separate responsibilities. Through investigative reporting and legitimate sources outside the criminal process reporter Bob Mercer has uncovered some additional facts the Attorney General is not permitted to discuss. See attachment B. (Mercer article). The facts as presented by Mr. Mercer would not support further action by state authorities at taxpayer expense beyond assisting federal authorities that have jurisdiction over the Federal EB-5 program. Although the Attorney General has no authority over a federal EB-5 program and the associated approval process of funds, it will continue to cooperate with federal authorities. As an elected official my skin is thick, but the prosecutors and investigators in this case and the public deserve better reporting from reputable news sources.