Bob Mercer brings us a surprise from Pierre: the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee decided to talk about the GOED/EB-5/Benda scandal after all. The agenda GOAC issued last week made no mention of the Governor's Office of Economic Development or the EB-5 program, which the Legislature charged GOAC to investigate last winter. Mercer thus went off to cover the state Railroad Board meeting.

With the press away, someone somehow added EB-5 to the GOAC agenda. Rep. Susan Wismer tweeted that the committee decided to defer to the U.S. Attorney rather than issue subpoenas to get its own answers about SDRC Inc., the shady private for-profit corporation to which the state ceded its authority over EB-5 in 2009.

Mercer expresses clear disgruntlement at GOAC's failure to alert the public to this discussion:

Had news organizations received some advance notice that there would be an attempt to seek the subpoena, the matter likely would have been covered by a news reporter. I haven’t seen any indication yet this afternoon that a reporter was present or at least listening via the Internet live-stream from the meeting. I’ll see what more I can find either later today or Thursday.

There are several patterns developing on this matter in the committee that deserve a deeper, closer look [Bob Mercer, "Some Days There Aren't Reporters," Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.06.18].

Mercer does learn from GOAC chair Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) that Tidemann plans to speak with the attorney general about GOAC's subpoena power and have GOAC follow up on both the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Governor's Future Fund. But hey, we were promised GOAC action on GOED and EB-5 back in February, and it still hasn't happened. We'll believe it when we see it.

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There goes the insanity defense....

Lawyer Joel Arends, the Sisyphus trapped on the mountain of fake U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth's woes, just rolled a boulder at David Lias. The Vermillion Plain Talk editor published a punishing non-endorsement Saturday, urging South Dakota Republicans not to waste their votes on the erratic, possibly mentally ill Bosworth.

Of all the things he could have been doing this primary election afternoon, Bosworth's attorney Arends called Lias in what looks like a pretty transparent call for a retraction. Lias summarizes his conversation in an update to the editorial:

On Tuesday afternoon, June 3, the Plain Talk was contacted by Joel Arends, Annette Bosworth’s attorney. According to Arends, Bosworth has never been diagnosed with a mental illness. The Plain Talk notes that KELO-TV reported on Nov. 28, 2012, that Bosworth’s June 2012 reprimand by the South Dakota Board of Medical Examiners included an agreement “to seek treatment for a mental illness in order to continue her practice.” Tuesday’s phone conversation with Arends also touched on claims that have been made by Assistant Attorney General Bill Golden, who serves as a lawyer for the state medical board staff.

“Assistant Attorney General Bill Golden has asserted that she has been diagnosed with a mental health disease or defect,” Arends said. “He is wrong, but I am informing you today that she has not been diagnosed with a mental health disease or defect.”

Arends refused to provide any documentation that shows earlier news reports about Bosworth have been incorrect.

“Her attorney in fact is telling you that what you wrote in your article is incorrect. Documents from the hearing are protected information that she has never released,” Arends said during Tuesday’s phone call. “None of the records have been open to the public, and Dr. Bosworth won’t allow that to happen.”

The editor’s opinions and conclusions shared in this opinion piece remain unchanged [David Lias, Editor's Note to "Consider This Political Non-Endorsement," Vermillion Plain Talk, updated 2014.06.03].

Illness, disease, defect—anyone who has watched the Bosworth campaign can recognize that Bosworth is a few noodles short of a casserole.

Arends ignores the fact the the media reported Bosworth's mental illness as fact in 2012. Arends ignores the fact that the assertion of a diagnosis of mental illness comes not simply from Assistant Attorney General Bill Golden but from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners, which cited the Kansas Professional Renewal Center's diagnosis in its May 7, 2012, petition for suspension or revocation of Bosworth's medical license. Arends ignores this exchange between Mr. Golden and Dr. Robert Ronald Perkinson, clinical director of Keystone Treatment Center, a licensed psychologist whom Bosworth enlisted to provide the treatment prescribed by the SDBMOE:

Golden: So let's talk about her Medical Board file. At the moment what do you know about it?

Perkinson: I have read the Board file, at least all of the files that have been sent to me, I read those on many occasions.

Golden: When you say file, I have no idea what was sent to you. Could you please describe them?

Perkinson: Well, I have them all here.

Golden: Okay. Do they include the PRC report, Professional Renewal Center?

Perkinson: Yes, sir.

Golden: And so you are aware of Dr. Bosworth's diagnosis?

Perkinson: Yes, sir.

Golden: And you started to treat on September 3rd with Dr. Bosworth according to Exhibit Number 15 which is currently on the screen?

Perkinson: You mean these files?

Golden: Yes. So you are familiar with them?

Perkinson: Yes, sir.

Golden: So you are aware of Dr. Bosworth's current diagnosis of a personality disorder, not otherwise specified, with narcissistic and histrionic personality traits?

Perkinson: Yes.

[hearing transcript, South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners, Sioux Falls, SD, 2012.11.09]

Arends brought Perkinson as a witness. Arends was in the hearing room during Golden's cross-examination. Arends offered no objection to Perkinson's confirmation that Bosworth has a diagnosis of personality disorder with narcissistic and histrionic personality traits. Perkinson confirmed this statement in a hearing that was open to the public thanks to Bosworth's waiver of confidentiality, made explicit by Arends at the beginning of the hearing.

In short, everything Arends said to Lias was wrong. Arends is simply recycling the strategy he used after Jonathan Ellis's February exposé of Bosworth's shady finances, throwing patently false accusations to smear former employees and distract from Bosworth's sins. Lias is right not to change the opinions or conclusions stated in his editorial.

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I promise: per Bosworth's request in her only face-to-face conversation with me (not to mention my own morals), I have not f---ed with her son. But an eager reader sends a clip from Sunday's Sioux Falls paper that suggests someone has: Argus Profile 20130526 They got the wild eyes right, but two children... wait a minute! When this campaign started, Chad and Annette had three children (none of them named for presidents... though maybe Annette pronounces Chancellor with a long a in honor of her political beacon). But the clip above says she has two children. We're short a kid! Yikes! The simple explanation is that someone at that Sioux Falls paper didn't proofread (because, really, it's just the Bosworth profile, and she's not a real candidate, so why bother?). But maybe Tuesday's press conference won't be a Bosworth striptease; maybe she'll announce that Chad sold their first-born to the Devil to ensure a primary victory. Either that, or one of the boys just got sick of wearing the same red campaign t-shirt every day, and Mom has disowned him until he puts it back on.

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Ken Santema puts serious miles on his car and keyboard to provide detailed coverage of the candidates forum held at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle last week. Well done, Ken! Among Santema's newsworthy observations:

  1. Four out of five of South Dakota's gubernatorial candidates oppose the Keystone XL pipeline! Unfortunately, the one who supports Keystone XL is Governor Dennis Daugaard, the one who is in a position to do the most to stop TransCanada's land grab.
  2. Of the four gubernatorial candidates, Independent Mike Myers offers the most specific plan for economic development on the reservations: hemp production!
  3. Santema, an open-minded conservative, says Democrats should pick Joe Lowe over Susan Wismer in the primary two weeks from today:

...Lowe trampled over Wismer.... He had a best overall grasp of topics from any of the gubernatorial candidates.... He also has much more relevant experience for actually being a governor.... I think the Democrats in SD should choose Lowe over Wismer because he has the best chance of bring a good fight to Daugaard. I hate blow-out elections and feel Wismer couldn’t get any general election votes beyond the ones that would already vote Democrat [Ken Santema, "OLC Candidate Forum Part 2: The Gubernatorial Candidates," SoDakLiberty, 2014.05.19].

  1. Santema takes umbrage at the fact that Senate candidates Mike Rounds and Clayton Walker did not even bother to respond. "It is quite disrespectful to the whole election process to not even acknowledge when constituents are reaching out to them," says Santema. Remember that, voters.
  2. Republican candidate Stace Nelson says the United States should not intervene militarily in Nigeria to attack Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalist rebels who kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian girls in March. "We are not the police force of the world," said the conservative former military policeman. Santema says that Democratic House candidate Corinna Robinson supports more U.S. involvement in foreign affairs.
  3. Robinson doesn't support Keystone XL; Nelson expresses concerns about allowing TransCanada to use eminent domain against Americans.
  4. Republican Senate candidate wants to see the candidates debate on the reservation during the general election. Santema thinks that's a great idea... and so do I! Just going to the reservation to cover this one forum got Santema interested in covering "SD DSS mishandling of native-American adoptions and foster care, federal land grab in the Badlands that impacts Lakota ranchers, and the creation and use of the cryptocurrency Mazacoin by the Traditional Lakota Nation." Hauling the mainstream media out to Kyle or up to Sisseton or whichever other reservation would like to host would bring bloggers, reporters, and candidates face-to-face with a portion of the South Dakota electorate that is too often ignored or taken for granted.
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Blogging? Heck, let's just make TV....

Gordon Howie keeps spinning out video from our conversation at the Liberty Today studio in beautiful east side Rapid City. Today we have Howie's effort to box me into endorsing his Independent Senate candidacy by persuading me that liberal media bias is a bigger problem for democracy than the influence of big money in elections.

Please note that when you see me nodding at Gordon, that's not agreement. That's my normal conversational reaction of yes, I understand what you're saying, please tell me more so I can learn, figure out if anything you're saying has merit, and formulate a proper rebuttal to that which doesn't.

Speaking of media bias, UCLA's Tim Groeling says it can be really hard to produce an objective measure of bias in news coverage, since we never really know all of the stories that an organization could have covered but either rejected or never looked for (if news happens in Peever, but no one is there to report it, did anything really happen?). As he reviews the literature, Groeling also notes that in 2008, "contrary to expectations, there was more interest in publishing pro-McCain letters than in publishing pro-Obama letters, and newspapers preferred to print letters supporting candidates they had not endorsed."

In response to a Rolling Stone question about Fox News back in 2010, President Barack Obama reminded us that the whole notion of objective, non-partisan journalism was a relatively recent and brief development, very different from the partisan media of the 19th century.

But you tell me: what bias drives CNN to cover the disappearance of one airplane rather than discussions of health policy and military funding? What bias dedicates a third of our local TV news to car crashes and sports? What bias puts Hollywood entertainment news on the pages of the Madison Daily Leader? Do those journalistic choices come from any sort of ideological agenda? Or they come come from the desire to draw more eyeballs and thus more dollars?

Tell me again, Gordon, which has more influence on what we see and hear and read: the ideological preferences of those writing stories, or the profit motive of those running the presses?

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Canadian/Chinese uranium predator Powertech/Azarga can't stand a little criticism. Earlier this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license to Powertech for its proposed in-situ uranium mining project in the southern Black Hills. The Rapid City Journal called the NRC's issuance a "rush to judgment," given that Powertech still faces two regulatory hearings in South Dakota before it can start despoiling the sacred Paha Sapa.

Powertech VP Richard Blubaugh took offense to the Journal's criticism and complained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

From: Richard Blubaugh [mailto:rblubaugh@powertechuranium.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:53 AM
To: Burrows, Ronald; Lancaster, Thomas; Yilma, Haimanot
Subject: Informing Public of Process

Ron, Tom and Haimanot,

Please see editorial from Rapid City Journal below. Will NRC respond in order to correct the misunderstanding presented to the public regarding the licensing process? I will follow up with telephone call later today.

Richard Blubaugh

NRC's Thomas Lancaster forwarded Blubaugh this message from the NRC's Office of Public Affairs telling Blubaugh to chill out:

From: McIntyre, David
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:54 AM
To: Lancaster, Thomas
Subject: RE: Informing Public of Process

Tom -

The Office of Public Affairs does not recommend responding to the Rapid City Journal’s editorial, “NRC’s Rush to Judgment.” The editorial did not mischaracterize our process or regulations, which direct the staff to issue a license once the necessary safety and environmental reviews are complete, even if an adjudicatory hearing is still underway. The editorial disagrees with that process, which is their opinion.

Dave

You can read the complete e-mail exchange in this PDF copy.

It's bad enough Powertech and its foreign investors are using big money to spread their pro-industry propaganda in South Dakota. It's worse that they try to get the government to intervene in the media on their behalf. Thankfully, in this case, the government declined, and Powertech must do its own dirty work.

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Sioux Falls will be popping with provocative political discourse tomorrow. Greg Belfrage has invited me converse with him on KELO-AM Friday morning at 8:20 a.m. about petition law, public discourse, and South Dakota's Senate campaign. Sioux Falls commuters, watch out for drivers distracted by a "self-proclaimed communist atheist blogger who lives out of state" speaking on conservative South Dakota talk radio.

If that interview doesn't burn the city down, the Sioux Falls Democratic Forum (brave sponsors of this blog!) will host their Friday Forum at the Sioux Falls VFW. In more cross-partisan craziness, these Dems have invited Republican turned Independent Larry Pressler to speak to them. That program starts at noon.

Pressler may get questions about an anonymous website set up to attack his record. Pressler's real website, LarryPressler.com, is somewhat sparse on issues, so someone has poached and redirected LarryPressler2014.com to throw up details on Pressler's record. The latter site attacks Pressler as a big-spending, self-serving Washington insider beholden to PAC money.

It's hard to tell who's behind that website. Its derogatory tone smells like the work of Mike Rounds's man Dick Wadhams. But the Pressler attacks, based as they are on reminding people of Pressler's record, could be coming from Democrats concerned that nostalgia might lure potential Weiland voters to Pressler's professed moderation.

Pressler knows he's in for hard questions; nobody gets off easy at Democratic Forum!

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Pat Powers posts possible GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jason Ravnsborg's appearance on Arizona blogger Josh Bernstein's Internet radio show. Because there's not enough pain and suffering in my life, I listen.

I've never listened to Bernstein's program. The opening makes me feel like I'm tuned in to the Two Minutes Hate.

Bernstein is a crappy interviewer. He seems less interested in asking questions and more interested in flogging his pet talking points of the day. He spends the first half of his interview dragging Ravnsborg through a re-recitation of Bernstein's own topics for the day: guns, ICANN, and Ukraine/Crimea. Bernstein's own continued pronouncements take up as much airtime as his guests responses. Bernstein doesn't probe his guest's thoughts or follow up on his responses. He plows along with his agenda, more interested in proving his own passion, ideology, and vocabulary than in spotlighting a fellow conservative who is doing the hard work of running for office.

Not that Ravnsborg says much anyway. He recites various predictable responses, and recites them poorly. Ravnsborg sounds nervous, strained, and short of breath, as if the mere business of keeping up with an arrogant radio host wears him out. Ravnsborg does not inspire confidence.

Ravnsborg says very little about South Dakota. Of course, Bernstein doesn't ask much about South Dakota, even though he mouths the formula, "Politics is mostly local." Neither is investing energy or intellect in specific, practical South Dakota issues; à la Bosworth, both are crutching along on the pre-fab national conservative punditry, playing to a national audience of distant and gullible listeners and donors rather than focusing on the people whom Ravnsborg would represent.

Reaching for something, anything worth mentioning, I note that Ravnsborg criticizes opponent Stace Nelson (coyly, "not going to mention names") for saying he would not support Marion Michael Rounds if Rounds wins the nomination. Ravnsborg frets that if Republicans dissatisfied with Rounds stay home or vote for newly Independent Larry Pressler in protest, South Dakota will end up with a "liberal liberal Democrat" who will hold the Senate seat for three terms, just like McGovern and Daschle... which thought-provoking observation Bernstein follows up with his own general discourse in support of term limits. Ravnsborg and Bernstein thus show themselves as RINOHINOs—RINO-Hunters In Name Only who say they can't stand "moderate" Republicans like Mike Rounds and John McCain but who will still roll over and bark/vote for them.

Candidate Rounds, carry on—you have nothing to worry about from Ravnsborg or conservative squawkers like Bernstein.

p.s.: Ravnsborg frets that President Obama wants to shrink government by reducing military spending on things like the A-10 Warthog that he loves to pose in front of. Ravnsborg, like too many pretend conservatives, says he opposes big government, but really loves big government when it carries big guns.

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