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Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Susan Wismer, the Democratic candidate for governor of South Dakota, says that state government must become more transparent and that state officials need to answer questions about EB-5. Photo from Facebook

Wismer says EB5 scandal will haunt Republicans
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY –– With so much swirling around about the missteps of South Dakota’s EB-5 program Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Susan Wismer, is challenging a Republican legislature to demand accountability and gaining in votes in the process.

“If the Republican legislators on this committee are not interested in looking into EB-5, it sends a message to South Dakotans that honesty and fair dealing in business doesn’t matter, “ Rep. Wismer said, shortly after her motion to subpoena former director of the EB-5 program, Richard Benda, failed to receive a second during a Government Operations & Audit Committee meeting.

“After the Government Operations & Audit Committee meeting today, I've come to believe that this committee is not faithfully executing the charge our legislature gave us under HCR 1010. The resolution gives us the right to seek additional information, yet we have sought no information outside the parameters dictated by the Daugaard administration,” said Rep. Wismer.

The states EB-5 program was a federal program run by the state that was designed to bring investments in to South Dakota in exchange for green cards for foreign investors who brought in a minimum of $500,000. The program has become a subject of scrutiny due to the failure of the state to make good on some of the contracts, a draft indictment for one of the state’s employees prior to his suicide, and the continued unveiling of documents that have tied republican senatorial candidate Mike Rounds to the program. Joop Bollen, the programs former director, has not been brought to testify in front of any government accountability board despite efforts from Wismer and others.

Wismer has been a member of the South Dakota legislature since 2009 as a representative of District 1 holds a degree in English from Augustana College. During her time in office she has sat on both the appropriations committee and the Government Operation Committee where she has continuously called for more inquiry in to EB-5 despite heavy opposition from a republican state legislature that has refused to budge on any action the may jeopardize the candidacies of current Gov. Dennis Daugaard, or former SD Gov. Mike Rounds who is in a three way battle royal for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Tim Johnson.

Unlike current South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard, Wismer has laid out a detailed plan for how to improve the state and it includes the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of a more transparent state government.

“As a South Dakotan, I was raised to be a hard worker and to tell the truth. Right now the whole truth is not being told. South Dakotans deserve to know why our good name was used by bad actors in bad business deals. We deserve to be told how South Dakota's credibility was abused to create projects that caused many South Dakota residents to lose millions of dollars,” said Wismer.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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