South Dakota Representative Kathy Tyler of Big Stone City is calling for a December 30 special legislative session to authorize independent forensic audits of the South Dakota Regional Center and the federal EB-5 investment for visa program. The Democrat made the announcement during a news conference in Sioux Falls Monday afternoon.
More than one week ago, Governor Dennis Daugaard said that the state of South Dakota terminated its contract with the SDRC, Inc. which administered the EB-5 program, after it was discovered that more than half of a $1 million state grant for the Aberdeen beef plant was improperly redirected to SDRC Inc. in January 2011.
Questions about the state's relationship with SDRC Inc. started surfacing after former Secretary of Tourism and State Development Richard Benda committed suicide at the end of October. Benda was working for SDRC Inc. when $550,000 of a $1 million Future Funds grant was redirected to his office.
Tyler says she will put letters on lawmakers’ desks on Tuesday before the Governor’s budget address and ask that they support the idea of a special session.
“I’ve studied the issues very thoroughly, talked to various people who have researched the topic and listened to my constituents. The entire EB-5, SDRC, SDRC, Inc. issue is one that we can’t ignore. It’s huge and needs to be thoroughly investigated,” Tyler wrote in the letter that will be distributed Tuesday.
Tyler says two-thirds of the state’s 105 lawmakers need to sign the petition to approve a special session.
Daugaard has already asked for an independent audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development but Tyler said that it’s not enough.