As I have talked about, I find it a little irritating that we are gifting the State Theatre $1.5 million based on the request of Denny Sanford.

Here are FOUR reasons we should say NO to this request;


And the Feds responded with major changes to the credit card laws;

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 prohibits upfront fees from totaling more than 25 percent of the card’s total available credit in the first year, and the rules that take effect in October provide greater detail on what that means. Specifically, the new rules expand the definition of “upfront fees” to include fees charged before the account is opened (for example, an application fee), not just those charged after it is opened.

Not only was Sanford involved, but our last mayor was the VP of Marketing for this subprime scheme.


While Sanford has maintained it was the University’s fault this didn’t go through, the University says otherwise;

Then, in 2002, he reached out to his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. He offered $35 million for the construction of a new football stadium. Your idea of what happened next depends a lot on your loyalties. The University claimed Sanford wanted “too much control” over the project, and the two parties failed to reach an agreement. Sanford alleges the University got greedy, more than doubling the projected cost of the stadium, trying to coax a few extra millions out of Sanford’s pockets. He pulled out, feathers ruffled.

The other story was that Sanford wanted his name on the building to.


Minnesota State Lawmakers got a little nervous about the merger;

Why did Sanford pull out of the talks? The prospect of the two $3 billion hospital systems merging alarmed some Minnesota leaders. The Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, called a press conference in late March to express concerns about Fairview assets remaining in Minnesota after a merger, and speculated about the future of the University of Minnesota’s teaching hospital, operated by Fairview, after a merger with an out-of-state entity. She convened a public hearing on short notice, on a Sunday in early April, and promised additional inquiry into the proposed merger. Two Minnesota state legislators introduced a bill to slow or stop the merger. Facing public suspicion and politicians intent on slowing, if not stopping, the merger, Sanford Health decided to cease merger discussions.

I met and spoke with AG Swanson shortly after this happened at a political event in Minneapolis. She basically told me that once their office started digging around on Sanford, the more concerned they got.


This of course is still going through the courts and investigation mode, but if found guilty there could be HUGE repercussions for the entire community;

Two doctors employed by Sanford Health are suing the company and one of its neurosurgeons, accusing them of defrauding the federal government and harming patients by performing unnecessary surgeries. Dustin Bechtold and Bryan Wellman filed the lawsuit in 2016, and a federal judge unsealed it Thursday. The complaint says Sanford Health has been buying medical devices from a company owned by Dr. Wilson Asfora, and that the surgeon uses those devices in unnecessary spine surgeries. The suit says this violates anti-kickback laws. The suit also says Sanford and Asfora billed Medicare and other programs for care that was never provided.

While Sanford has been very generous with his giving, there is certainly NO reason the Mayor or the City Council need to give money because he says so. We can say ‘NO’ to the whims of billionaires, other’s have. We just lack the courage.

17 Thoughts on “Sioux Falls taxpayers shouldn’t be giving gifts based on the whims of one man

  1. scott on July 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm said:

    “paul ten haken, bow down prostrate before me!”–t denny sanford

  2. "'Extremely' Stable Genius" on July 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm said:

    The PTH administration needed a win. There’s currently no answer for the railroad development area or the bunker ramp. So why not talk up the State Theater and offer a half solution as a full solution for the Theater and get Uncle Denny to chip in to make it happen. That’s what this is all about.

    And why they didn’t throw solvency for the second and third floors of the Theater into this too, I will never know. Unless it is to give the impression that this is still an overall private fundraising effort that the city and Denny are just helping out with.

    Say, speaking of Denny, whatever happen to the divorce/puppet idea? Do all remember a couple years ago when Angela interviewed Denny in San Diego, when he started talking about how he was going to fund a program that gave puppets out to kids from broken families. Who knows, huh? But speed forward to today and money is being given now instead for a broken fundraiser with the help of politicians who are puppets for the “Movers & Shakers” in town….#GoFigure….

  3. Matthew Paulson on July 11, 2019 at 5:27 pm said:

    The only reason on this list that has any validity is the source of Mr. Sanford’s wealth. I think people would feel less good about his charitable giving if they knew it came from credit card interest paid by low-income families.

    I think the other arguments about Sanford Health aren’t really relevant to this discussion. Mr. Sanford is not the owner of or an executive at Sanford Health.

    Honestly, I think we are going to see more of this type of thing. If Mayor Ten Haken wants to attract private money for the parks system, wealthy donors are going to make contributions to projects near their homes and projects that they have a special interest in (e.g. the Kirby’s making a generous donation for the downtown dog park).

    If the city wants private money, there’s going to be strings attached. That’s just the reality.

  4. l3wis on July 11, 2019 at 6:18 pm said:

    MP, you are forgetting that the city doesn’t OWN the theatre and never will. We have NO obligation to fund it.

  5. "'Extremely' Stable Genius" on July 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm said:

    “If the city wants private money, there’s going to be strings attached. That’s just the reality.”

    Such an acceptive mentality is not healthy for a people who believe in democratic (small “d”) government. It only further legitimizes interference in the governmental process by the few, which is analogous to what is already going on in this town in terms of the relationship between a few developers and City Hall.

    How is it that we have money for the State Theatre, but not our parks? Are not our parks for the most part free, while a theatre costs to participate? It seems to me that democratic government should be giving greater and first emphasis to those public ammenities in our town that offer the most to the most, which means at no or limited cost.

  6. Matthew Paulson on July 11, 2019 at 10:11 pm said:

    There is no obligation of the city to fund the state theater. I don’t think anyone is arguing there’s an obligation for the city to pay for it, but when the city can buy something that’s good for the community at a 70% discount (1.5m instead of 5m) and have no obligation to its operations on an ongoing basis, that’s pretty hard to say no to.

  7. D@ily Spin on July 12, 2019 at 10:04 am said:

    We shouldn’t have to fund Denny binge watching ‘Gone with the Wind’. If we must support him, how about lease the top floor of a Las Vegas hotel where he can grow long nails and obsess with germs. Fly him there in a wood Boeing Max 8?

  8. "'Extremely' Stable Genius" on July 12, 2019 at 10:20 am said:

    What are we “buying?” It also doesn’t get completed with the City’s help.

  9. D@ily Spin on July 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm said:

    If the city gives my taxes to a charitable 501c3, can I deduct it on my federal tax return? Are TIF’s also deductible? Can I write off kickbacks and corruption as public benefit loss?

  10. Warren Phear on July 13, 2019 at 9:00 am said:

    Simply stated, t dennys credit card is a fee harvesting operation. Always was. They prey on the too young, the too old, the too desperate.

  11. Anthony Renli on July 14, 2019 at 2:52 pm said:

    Once again as this is a pet peeve of mine-
    Sanford Hospital is NOT T. Denny Sanford. T. Denny Sanford has no direct control of Sanford Health. He is not on the board of directors, he is not an executive.
    He doesn’t own Sanford Health.
    They, and their business practices have nothing to do with HIM.
    He gave them a poop-load of money and they changed their name…but they are not directly connected. Much like the Carnegie Town Hall was donated as the Carnegie Library by the Carnegie family – we don’t say that Standard Oil owns and runs Sioux Falls.

    The Medicare Fraud and Minnesota blocking a merger has to do with the hospital being shady AF, but it has NOTHING to do with the separate, distinct, totally disconnected shady AF business practices of T. Denny.

    They are separate business entities.

    Do they suck up to him? Of course – because they suck up to anyone who is going to make million dollar donations. They aren’t going to do anything specifically to piss him off, in hopes he gives more money in the future, but he only has limited influence and only when he’s actively giving them money (which he hasn’t since 2014).

  12. l3wis on July 14, 2019 at 3:34 pm said:

    AR, in some aspects you are correct, but not entirely. T Denny’s personal attorney, former state legislator Dave Knudson is all Sanford Hospital’s attorney. Think about that. In exchange giving the money to Sanford, Denny got rights to do the collections for Sanford through a 1st Premier entity. T Denny was very involved with the potential merger in Minnesota. As for the Medicare Fraud suit, T Denny is named in it (Cory H. has a great review of the suit, he read it). T Denny was involved in keeping Dr. Asfora on when there was past pressure to fire him. So yes, there are cases where T Denny is not involved in the daily operations of the hospital, but, he kind of is.

  13. Pancy Nelosi on July 14, 2019 at 4:09 pm said:

    Whoa! Your arguments have nothing to do with the legitimacy of the donation in my opinion but the main one is calling Premier predatory lending. Did they force anyone to look at the application for credit and apply? Is a used car dealer guilty of predatory sales? Let the buyer beware. BTW – I think the State Theatre is a turd – trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  14. Tonald Drump on July 14, 2019 at 4:29 pm said:

    PN is proof that over the years we have allowed banking practices to legitimize what was once called “loan sharking.”

    I also remember when wars ended, Republicans could win a majority, or at least a plurality, of the vote for president, they were not cozy with Russians, and didn’t run up deficits…..It’s amazing how times have changed, huh?

  15. Pancy Nelosi on July 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm said:

    TD – snake oil has been sold for centuries. It’s not the responsibility of you or me to inform the masses of it’s presence, that would be a heavy burden to bear. I’ve been tripped up with the tricks of capitalism and I’m sure you have. Everyone has to figure it out. I think the worst invention of capitalism is credit cards. I can’t afford it today, so I’ll pay someone else to buy it for me with interest. A totally stupid concept.

  16. Pike Mence on July 15, 2019 at 12:54 am said:


    No, it is the duty of us to “inform.” That’s why there use to be credible usury laws in this state until Janklow changed all of that.

    In fact, in a PBS documentary from 2004, Janklow admits that the usury change might have been a mistake.

    Also, in the last forty plus years we have lived in a deregulatory world; and I don’t think it is coincidental that it correlates with the decline of the American middle class either.

  17. anonymous on July 15, 2019 at 11:18 am said:

    Pancy Nelosi, the federal government obviously disagrees with you regarding t. denny sanford/first premier and predatory lending.

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