Want more answers on the GOED/EB-5/Benda scandal? So do South Dakota's newspapers. Four—four!—big dailies across the state say the Legislature is not faithfully executing its charge to investigate the strange shuffling of EB-5 visa investment money that resulted in a bankrupt beef beef plant and a dead man.

The Yankton Press & Dakotan says Attorney General Marty Jackley's revelation that he was preparing to arrest Richard Benda before the former GOED chief's death in October 2013 raises questions the AG and the Legislature should be asking:

...why didn’t this come out many months ago as investigations at the state and federal levels began digging into this matter? This makes very little sense, and adds a new, frustrating mystery to this complex tale of corruption and suicide.

...Last week’s admission by the attorney general brought a curious new light to this subject, but the state doesn’t seem overly curious to wonder why it came out now and what else — if anything — had yet to be revealed.

South Dakotans deserve the whole story. At least they need to know that the veins of evidence have been thoroughly mined. Jackley’s actions last week suggest they haven’t ["EB-5: Why Did This Take So Long?Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2014.08.04].

(I've outlined many of the questions the Legislature has refused to ask here.)

The Watertown Public Opinion observes the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation by backing my opinion that GOED/EB-5/Benda is South Dakota's Watergate:

The question yet to be asked, at least publicly, was how Benda could have done what he did without raising eyebrows until former Gov. Mike Rounds left office — he was the one who appointed Benda to his positions — and Dennis Daugaard became governor. Daugaard didn’t re-appoint Benda and it wasn’t too much later that the EB-5 scandal started heating up.

One can’t help wonder how Benda could do what he did without the help, or at least knowledge, of others. Were officials at Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen, the recipients of EB-5 money, involved? How about SDRC President Joop Bollen, a private company in Aberdeen entrusted with handling EB-5 funds and making sure they got to where they were supposed to go? And how could a portion of the grant money intended for Northern Beef end up being diverted to SDRC in early 2011 to pay Benda’s salary in his new job at SDRC without raising red flags somewhere in state government?

Amazingly, no one on the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee, the group the attorney general addressed last week, asked him who else, if anyone, was involved, and Jackley said nothing about whether Benda acted alone or had help.

...So in the spirit of 40 years ago and taking liberty with paraphrasing, when it comes to EB-5, “Who knew what and when did they know it?” You’d think that question would be at the top of someone’s list. We can think of more then a few people who ought to be asking that question ["What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?" Watertown Public Opinion, 2014.08.04].

The Aberdeen American News, speaking from the scene of the crime (proverbially and perhaps literally), dishes outright ridicule and shame on South Dakota Republicans for stonewalling the investigation of a scandal in their own backyard:

While the GOP has been quite vocal about such “scandals” as “Benghazi,” “Obamacare” and Common Core, state Republicans are turning down the chance to investigate a real, live scandal in their own backyard.

One they actually have a chance to do something about.

But they don’t want to know anything more.

The EB-5 controversy has been a black mark on South Dakota and state leadership. It is a complex issue and investigation, made more cumbersome by the tangled personal and/or political relationships of former Gov. and Senate candidate Mike Rounds, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Jackley and Benda.

We can’t believe that state legislators know all there is to know about how the state used EB-5, and who could have stopped its misuse.

What’s more galling is that those lawmakers don’t think you need to know anything more.

For shame ["GOP Fails on EB-5 Scandal," Aberdeen American News, 2014.08.06].

And this morning the Rapid City Journal, the paper I feel most comfortable dismissing as a Republican rag, looks its diehard conservative readership in the eye and says Democrat Susan Wismer is right and that Republicans should answer our questions about GOED, EB-5 and Benda:

The legislative panel should subpoena members of both the Rounds and Daugaard administrations who were involved in the EB-5 visas-for-investment program so the public can hear for themselves what was going on rather than be told what happened by parties who may have an interest in controlling the flow of information.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more to the story than Benda’s alleged misconduct. But when the Legislature’s committee -- which is tasked with finding out what went on in the EB-5 program and report its findings to the public -- goes into executive session and refuses to hear from anyone other than the attorney general, it invites speculation that we’re not being told all the facts ["Does EB-5 Probe Stop at Benda?" Rapid City Journal, 2014.08.07].

The GOED/EB-5/Benda scandal is real. It lost real money. It destroyed real jobs, It led to one very death. Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, Marty Jackley, Joop Bollen, and everyone else involved in this scandal should answer our questions publicly so that we can understand what went wrong, hold accountable whoever is responsible, and forge better policy in the future.

35 comments

Hey, everybody, guess what? Brandon Taliaferro and us bloggers are all lying about Annette Bosworth. So says the perjurious political poseur's paid press, which asserts that Bosworth brought a check to court Monday to pay attorney Taliaferro the $25,000 retainer he said he never received:

By the way, Bosworth is and was ready, willing and able to pay the retainer. She brought a check to the hearing yesterday [Annette Bosworth's paid spokesperson, "Lawyer Did NOT Drop Bosworth For Non-Payment: South Dakota Blogs Lie About It," that fake Bosworth-Haber blog, 2014.08.05].

So let's see: the retainer was supposed to be paid by July 25. Bosworth offered to pay it on August 4. O.K., fine.

The one thing we do learn from this claim is that now Judge John L. Brown can comfortably reject any attempt Bosworth may make to obtain a public defender, since her own press team says she can afford to pay for her own lawyer. Thank you, Annette, for letting us taxpayers off the hook.

33 comments

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.

6 comments

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.

43 comments

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.

6 comments

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.
21 comments

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?

24 comments

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.

4 comments

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