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Rep. Tyler Denied Special Session, Still Wants Audit

December 12, 2013, 6:03 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Rep. Tyler Denied Special Session, Still Wants Audit

A South Dakota state representative didn't get enough signatures to hold a special session, so now she's taking her case to the legislature's Executive Board.

Democratic Representative Kathy Tyler wanted a special session to authorize a forensic audit of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the South Dakota Regional Center and the federal EB-5 investment for citizenship program.

This entire issue rose after news broke that former South Dakota Secretary of State Development and Tourism Richard Benda was being investigated for improperly redirecting more than a half million dollars of a state grant to SDRC Inc. shortly after he left office and started working for SDRC.

Two audits have been ordered by the Governor's office, but Tyler says the legislature needs to do more. Last week, she held a news conference calling for special legislative session to authorize a full, independent forensic audit.

"This is the perfect opportunity for every legislator to step to the plate and say, 'Hey, look we need to get this fixed,'" Tyler said on December 2.

She didn't get enough support for that special session but she still wants the audit.

"Something definitely needs to be looked at because we don't know where all the money went," Tyler said Thursday from her home in Big Stone City.

Tyler will ask the legislature's Executive Board for that audit at it's meeting Monday.

"We need someone to come in from out of state who has no ties to South Dakota, whose auditors have not ties to any of the legal firms, who have interest in any of those projects. We need somebody totally independent to come in and do a forensic audit," Tyler said.

The chair of the Executive Board, Republican Senator Ryan Maher of Isabel, says Tyler will give a presentation on her research at the Monday meeting. But with current audits and an FBI investigation ongoing he says he's not ready to jump in with legislative action yet.

"It's definitely within our scope and range to look into this but I just think it's premature and a little too early yet until everything else gets wrapped up," Maher said.

Maher says when the federal investigation wraps up it may provide more answers and give lawmakers better direction in requesting an audit or adding more oversight.

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