Rounds brothers investigated for 2009 breach of contract

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — Former Gov. Mike Rounds’ brother oversaw the state office that dealt with lawsuits against South Dakota at the time a lawsuit was filed over the state’s handling of a program offering green cards to immigrants who invested in the state.

Whether Mike Rounds knew of the lawsuit has become an issue in his current campaign for U.S. Senate. Both brothers tell The Daily Republic that they did not discuss the 2009 breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Darley International, which had an agreement to recruit investors in China for South Dakota projects.

“We had a lot of lawsuits. I remember most of them. I don’t remember that one coming through,” said Dennis Rounds, who headed South Dakota’s Office of Risk Management at the time. “That doesn’t mean it didn’t come across my desk. It just doesn’t ring a bell.”

Dennis Rounds also said he did not work directly for his brother, but instead reported to the commissioner for the Bureau of Administration, who reported to the governor’s chief of staff.

Mike Rounds, a Republican candidate for Senate, has been criticized by Democrats for lapses in the visa program, which has been investigated by state and federal authorities. Rounds has said that as governor he wasn’t personally aware of the Darley lawsuit.

Rounds’ campaign told the newspaper on Monday that he did not recall discussing the case with his brother.

“The Bureau of Administration/Office of Risk Management would regularly compile a report containing brief summaries of every case against the state and their status,” Rounds’ statement said. “The Governor’s Office was included in the distribution of those reports. Since those reports included all ongoing cases (some of them many years old), they usually contained hundreds of cases.”