PIERRE, SD (KELO) – There’s a tremor at South Dakota Corn.

Lisa Richardson, the long-time executive director of the non-profit association, is absent. She will be replaced on an interim basis by Mike Jaspers.

Mike Jaspers | Courtesy SD Corn

Jaspers, a corn farmer, former secretary of state for agriculture and former lawmaker, is still employed by the East River Electric Power Cooperative at Madison as the director of business development.

Jaspers was talking on Friday morning when the government side of the organization met but did not speak during the open portion of the meeting.

The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council went to the executive session for about 25 minutes and then returned to the open session. The council hired Pierre’s Brett Koenecke as legal counsel and hired him to find suggestions for a forensic examination.

Koenecke told the council that he could have a good idea within two weeks. He said a forensic audit is not uncommon when a company changes leadership.

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Three members of the council, led by President Grant Rix of Groton, were selected on Friday to serve as a search committee for a new executive director.

The changes come just weeks after the accounting firm Limestone Inc., based in Sioux Falls, took over the organization’s bookkeeping.

SD Corn’s advertising site spends millions of dollars on advertising and development every year. The council levies repayable handling fees from maize farmers. ON Draft report for May showed the council’s assets at about 6.5 million US dollars.

The council has been repeatedly accused in annual financial audits of state governments for a lack of proper controls. (See page 274 of the 2020 report.) The council works under the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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The Secretary of State of DANR, Hunter Roberts, attended the meeting.

Attorney Laura Hensley of Boyce Law Firm in Sioux Falls was also present on Friday. She didn’t say why.