Even if we can get Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) to do his job and subpoena Mike Rounds's and Dennis Daugaard's EB-5 visa czar Joop Bollen, we may have trouble carrying it out. A reliable source tells me that Joop Bollen is in the Philippines.

To the best of my source's knowledge, the last time anyone saw Bollen and his wife around Aberdeen was more than three weeks ago. Supposedly Bollen is visiting his young Filipina wife's family.

From our coincidence file, just a little more than three weeks ago, we learned that the South Dakota Banking Commission is investigating whether Bollen failed to pay $2.4 million in bank franchise tax on his EB-5 activities.

Bollen's overseas travel would explain the "difficulty" reported in serving Bollen with notice of Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth's lawsuit to demand that Bollen, his attorney Jeff Sveen, his former boss and governor Mike Rounds, and other EB-5 players preserve documents related to the scandal-plagued EB-5 program.

This trip would also suggest that Bollen may not be entirely sure that the SDGOP will keep shielding him from questions about EB-5 and that he needs to back up his arrogance with absence.But now we bring the Philippines back into the EB-5 story. Stay tuned.

41 comments

The week after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, Preventive Health Strategies president Chad Haber met with Veterans for a Strong America director Joel Arends to discuss fundraising and logistics for a medical mission trip to assist typhoon victims. Comments made during that discussion offer useful and unpleasant insight into the attitude of PHS president Haber toward his beneficiaries and his benefactors.

Haber said he would make some pre-trip calls to connections he had in the Philippines. Arends asked a practical language question, to which Haber offered a response that revealed a lack of knowledge, curiosity, and cultural sensitivity:

Haber: "I would reach out to people that I know that have Philippine connections and I'd say o.k., I need a community to serve, ideally one or two, I want to be on the ground for a few days—"

Arends: "Someone who speaks Tagalog, right? Isn't that, Tagalog—"

Haber: "I have no idea. Don't care."

Arends: "It's called Tagalog."

Haber: "I don't want to say Please or Thank You. I don't want to know, o.k.? They need to learn how to speak English so they can thrive in the world."

Arends: [pause] "We need someone who speaks Tagalog. We're gonna need a couple of 'em" [Chad Haber and Joel Arends, transcript of meeting, November 2013].

In the midst of a humanitarian crisis, a humanitarian doesn't wage overt linguistic imperialism. A humanitarian learns whatever he can about the local culture that will help speed the delivery of aid to those in need.

But Haber has made clear in other fundraising pitches that the big solution to disease and poverty overseas is to get everyone to speak English.

In the fundraising discussion, Arends said VSA had already secured $5 million in medicines to deliver. Additional fundraising was needed to cover costs for airfare, security, and in-country needs. Haber ballparked the per-person cost to be $10,000 but said they dared not speak that number, since South Dakota donors couldn't handle it:

Haber: "Basically to be able to have that kind of experience and go to Haiti, it's ten grand a person. So that's just a number where it's too big to talk to South Dakotans about, and so depending upon where we go, we say, well, here's what it is for plane tickets, can you help with that much?"

Haber and Arends assessed fertile ground for fundraising. Haber engaged in some sociology:

Haber: "All these farmers right now, they— most of them just had their best year ever, right?... They had amazing years. They had great yields and they had good prices."

Arends: "Yeah, that's a pretty good bet, especially, you know, the cut-off was South Dakota - Iowa, especially if these guys are in Iowa—"

Haber: "Oh, crazy."

Arends: "Weather was a hundred times better, forty minutes across, like my dad, fantastic."

Haber: "Unbelievable, you're right. And, Iowa, they— the 1950s when the revival movement came through, they all bought into money is root of evil because farmers were poor at that time. Every single one of these men has a huge guilty conscience about being rich now.... They can't stand it. They just think they're going to hell because they have money and they just want to get rid of it."

Arends: "Especially if they're in Sioux County."

Chad: "Sioux County. And so then it's a very soft outreach...."

Ah, yes, guilty Christians. Always easy marks for a quick scheme. Or so Haber seems to think.

Arends and Haber delve into more theology as they discuss one specific big-money donor who could fund the whole Philippines trip with one check. Arends says he feels uneasy making the Jesus pitch to this donor; Haber says they just have to remember the donor is as interested in saving himself as saving any Filipinos:

Arends: "I'm not going to be able to speak to his Christian soul or any of that kind of stuff. I'm... I'm in there talking numbers. I'm not a evangelical— I'm a heathen Catholic...."

Haber: "You've gotta toe the middle ground there. God's calling Annette to go...."

Arends: " I just can't talk the evangelical piece if that's what folks are, you know— I'm a technician, man."

Haber: "He [the donor] is too, o.k.? He's trying to— he really wants God to save him. He's a numbers guy, too, that's trying to figure out how to get into heaven. Grace is freely given is a foreign concept to him and he's fighting it every step of the way.

Arends: "Right."

Haber: "And he doesn't really want to go to these places, but he likes to cut checks and think that he's doing his part."

Arends: "Well, he would be."

Haber's comments indicate that under his leadership, Preventive Health Strategies lacks cultural sensitivity toward the people it claims to serve. Haber's analysis of potential donors indicates an unhealthy view of religion as a tool to exploit to raise money.

Arends and Haber carried out this medical mission trip in January. Accompanying them was Haber's wife, U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth.

48 comments

We've had six solid meat-and-potatoes blog posts today; it's time for dessert.

Amid the comedy of the latest installment of her increasingly manic, scattershot publicity stunt, fake U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth refused to answer questions from reporters today about whether she was in the Philippines at the time that signatures were illegally gathered in her name last January. "I am not hiding it," Bosworth said, according to reporter David Montgomery. "I am trusting that the process works."

Let's review the crime quickly: Bosworth swore that she gathered petition signatures between January 5 and January 15. During that time, Bosworth was in the Philippines, where she could not have gathered the signatures she swore she gathered. Bosworth thus committed perjury on her petition to run for Senate.

Montgomery fails to cross the t in his article. While Bosworth adopts this lawyerly non-responsiveness, Montgomery could easily have helped show that Bosworth was telling the truth (that's news!) when she said she is not hiding her absence from South Dakota during the period in question. As I documented in April in my original perjury brief, Bosworth publicly documented her Philippines trip on her own website on January 5, January 8, and January 15. Her husband Chad Haber documented Bosworth's presence in the Philippines with this Instagram photo on Janaury 8. Chad further documented the trip in a series of Tweets from January 6 to January 15 (landing in Manila, safe in Philippines, in country, at airport, at dinner, in Tacloban, in Pasay, in Guam, over Honolulu).

Gee, Chad, maybe you should have tweeted in Tagalog so we wouldn't know what you were saying. But go ahead, Chad. Have Joey hit Delete. I have screen shots.

As if that's not enough, in her rambling, pathos-filled interview with Greg Belfrage on April 17, after persistent redirects from the host, Bosworth admitted that one of her petition signers "signed it while we were in the Philippines."

It's pretty clear Bosworth has already admitted she did not witness signatures that she swore she witnessed. The public record she herself created in January and April undoes the "vehement denial" Bosworth issued from the Minnehaha County Courthouse steps today. But because that Sioux Falls paper stops at Annette's baloney (admittedly plenty damning baloney: who hears a line like that and doesn't groan in disbelief?), I have to finish the story for them.

* * *

SF Press conference calling for Jackley recusal 20140516

Annette Bosworth at the courthouse... hmm... why do I have the feeling we'll see that caption again?

Astute political readers will watch the video of Bosworth's noon theater and wonder why she staged this cheap event anyway. Why would any serious candidate hold a press conference to bring more attention to a criminal investigation against herself? Where's her campaign manager, who should be telling her to shut the heck up?

Well, Bosworth's campaign coordinator Daniel Freeman isn't going to be much help. He's not a politico who knows when silence is the right tactic. He's a graphic designer who thinks sex sells. On his business website, Freeman's logo is pursed red lips. His tagline is "Ready to get graphic? Having a successful business is sexy...." He drapes this tagline over a female model whose only visible clothes are a bandana and a bra. His portfolio as of yesterday bore a banner image of a woman's legs in sexy thigh-high nylons and high heels on a bed. Freeman cut the image off below the waist, showing just the edge of some scant pajama over bare curves. Since I checked yesterday, Freeman apparently decided to tone the portfolio header image down to a man checking his tie. But he has plenty of other leggy images objectifying women by (pay attention to the metaphor!) cutting off women's heads.

Freeman lives in the world of image and objectification, not effective politics... and Annette's performance today (why, yes, she was showing the cameras a bit of cleavage, hidden only by the script to which she was chained) shows Freeman's paltry, seamy skill set at work.

But hey, when you're not a real campaign, who needs a real campaign manager?

Now, back to my Bosworth-free weekend.

40 comments

One of the things that stuck out to me in the Auditor General's review of the Governor's Office of Economic Development was Finding #3, which said that GOED chief Richard Benda had received reimbursement for $14,700 for "translation services" in the Philippines.

I review the voucher files and find the handwritten "invoice" the Auditor General Guindon mentions. Four men—Jose Reyes, Juan de la Cruz, Romeo Chavez, and Mark Andrew—evidently got $1,200 cash for translation and interpretation. That "invoice" is scrawled on stationary from the City Garden Hotel in Makati.

I would love to know what exactly they translated and interpreted. But what still has me wondering is... the Philippines? What the heck was Richard Benda doing in the Philippines?

The GOED vouchers show that Richard Benda traveled to the Philippines four times in a six-month period from December 2009 to May 2010. These trips usually took place in conjunction with trips to China to recruit investors for EB-5 projects, most prominently the then-floundering Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen. Benda made two trips just to China in July and November 2009. But the December trip took a four-day detour, from December 21 to 24, to Manila, with Benda purchasing his plane tickets and hotel rooms on Expedia while in China.

Benda returned to the Philippines March 22 through March 26, April 26 through May 1, and May 13 through 30. That May trip is complicated: Benda first went from Sioux Falls to Manila, then flew to Ho Chi Minh City (yes, Vietnam) on May 18. He hopped up to China May 19 through 24, then flew back to Manila to stay until May 30.

The May trip includes a receipt from the My Boracay resort showing a stay the nights of May 15 and 16 and a receipt from the Hilton Cebu Resort and Spa for a stay the night of May 25. Both of those receipts indicate payment for one room with two adults. The receipts do not indicate Benda's companion was one of his translators.

The itemized lists accompanying these receipts indicate that Benda met with numerous potential EB-5 investors in the Philippines. He wined and dined them at various places, include the Café Havana in the Greenbelt 3 development in Makati. I find at least three receipts from Café Havana:

  • April 28, 2010, 02:05, $76.11
  • April 29, 2010, 01:31, $43.27
  • May 17, 2010, 20:20, $25.48

Benda didn't throw a lot of cash around at Café Havana, at least not cash that he asked for the taxpayers to reimburse, but he spent some of it late into the evening (jet lag, right?).

It may be worth noting that Café Havana is a "go-go bar" (welcome to the first appearance of that phrase on this blog) in Makati, the financial center of the Philippines. The City Garden Hotel, where the translators' invoice originated, is a four-minute walk from Makati's red-light district.

Last puzzle piece for the morning: Just prior to his last trip to the Philippines on the state's dime (the vouchers show no further trips overseas by Benda after he returned from Manila at the end of May 2010), Benda spent May 7 and 8 in Deadwood, apparently discussing EB-5 money for the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino. The vouchers indicate that Benda changed his Delta flight ticket on May 8. He left for that last Philippines trip May 13.

No Philippine EB-5 investors have been identified in the more prominently discussed bankrupt EB-5 projects of Northern Beef Packers and the Veblen dairies. Philippine investors have not made news in any other South Dakota EB-5 projects. I am thus curious to learn whether Benda's burst of interest in the Philippines from December 2009 to May 2010 translated into more EB-5 money for South Dakota projects or if that effort went the fruitless way of Benda's Hyperion exertions.

35 comments

Dr. Annette Bosworth commits another blatant violation of campaign finance and non-profit law. U.S. Senate candidate Bosworth posts what Pat Powers labels a campaign video shot in the Philippines.

Bosworth has been posting updates about her purported medical mission trip to the Philippines for the past several days on her official Senate campaign Facebook page. The relief trip was organized by Republican lawyer Joel Arends's purportedly non-partisan Veterans for a Strong America. This video, with the overtly political call for viewers to join her campaign team, makes clear that the trip to the Philippines is a crass political ploy by Bosworth. It also makes clear that anyone who donated to this trip cannot claim a tax deduction, since Bosworth is using resources donated for her trip to make political ads.

29 comments

Veterans for a Strong America, a Swift-Boaty organization created by Republican South Dakota lawyer Joel Arends to put a patriotic gloss on arch-conservative bushwah, appears to be doing something nice. My inbox lit up this afternoon with a press release from VSA announcing a medical mission to the Philippines, leaving Sunday and returning on January 14.

Here's the full release:

Vets Deploy to Philippines to Aid Typhoon Victims
Vets Group will Administer Over a Million Dollars in Needed Medicine
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SIOUX FALLS, SD January 2, 2014 – The Veterans for a Strong America Foundation has announced it will be sending medical professionals that are combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide medical services and aid relief efforts in the Philippines.

From January 5 through January 15 six veterans from five states will converge on the Philippines to provide medical and logistical support to existing relief agencies. In addition to the six veterans, five other personnel will also provide medical, logistical and relief support.

Veterans for a Strong America Foundation chairman Joel Arends will lead the group to the Tacloban area of the Philippines, one of the hardest hit areas by Typhoon Haiyang. “Veterans are looking to further their service out of uniform and the group that we’ve recruited is perfectly suited to bolster the relief effort – they know how to handle adversity in austere conditions and will adapt very quickly and hit the ground running. Our team is filled with a mix of military and civilian medical professionals that all have significant experience they can bring to bear in a part of the world that needs our help right now.”

In addition to bringing skilled medical professionals to the Philippines, the group will also bring along $1.5 million in much-needed antibiotics and other vital medicine that has been unable to make it way to the hardest hit areas of the islands. “Thanks to the great efforts of our partners and team members, they were able to procure over a million dollars in medicine that we will bring with us and administer while on the ground,” said VSA Foundation chairman Joel Arends.

The Foundation also has a secondary mission – to provide veterans with meaningful international experiences that build relationships with other countries. “The Philippines and the United States have a long history of working together and our military team members know that history reaches back to the special bond formed between the two countries during WWII. Trips like these help us build and strengthen international relationships between our countries and veterans are some of the best trained diplomats our nation has to offer” [Veterans for a Strong America, press release, 2014.01.02].

Just as interesting is the note at the bottom. The e-mail came from VSA, and they tell me to direct media inquiries to VSA's e-mail, but the footer reads thus:

Copyright © 2014 Dr. Annette Bosworth for Senate, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a member of the media.
Our mailing address is:
Dr. Annette Bosworth for Senate
2601 S. Minnesota Ave.
Suite 105-129
Sioux Falls, SD 57105

So the VSA press release is copyrighted by the Bosworth Senate campaign. I don't usually see press releases copyrighted; that makes me wonder if they slapped "For Immediate Release" at the top just to trick me into reprinting copyrighted material so Annette and husband Chad Haber could finally tell their lawyer Joel to sue the Madville Times.

But let's not be conspiratorial. The release doesn't say Annette is one of the civilian medical professionals joining this mission, but her recent Twitterage about booking tickets to the Philippines and asking God for money, as well as some underground chatter I've heard about Team Bosworth-Haber organizing something they hope to brand as "Delta Force Medics," suggests this Annette's latest flight of fancy.

This trip could be the smartest thing Annette does all year. She'll get away from Facebook and conservative pandering. She'll get away from Starbucks and the daily personal revivals at Hy-Vee. If she's really lucky, she'll get away from Chad. She'll get back to what she's really good at: caring for patients. Dealing with medical crises. Doing the good she's best equipped to do. Maybe she'll get four days in to helping people in need and remember why she got her medical degree.

And on the plane ride back across the big blue ocean, she'll tell Joel to draft her termination of candidacy to send to the FEC. She'll get home, hug her boys, restore her clinic's normal operating hours... and tell Chad to get a real job. That might have made #11 on my 2014 wish list.

Do good work, Joel and Annette. Serve others with pure hearts.

20 comments

Flight risk! Flight risk!

Beset by questions she can't answer about fraudulent raffles and stiffed workers, doctor and GOP Senate candidate Annette Bosworth is trying to leave the country for the Philippines. But apparently she's broke, so she has her thirteen-year-old son begging for money for her $2000 plane ticket. Here's the pitch from Crowdrise:

BENEFITING: PREVENTIVE HEALTH STRATEGIES
EVENT DATE: DEC 07, 2013
DAYS TO GO: 3

THE STORY:

My name is Prescott Haber. I turn 13 on Saturday.

I am giving up my birthday to help the kids in the Philippines.

My mom is a Doctor her name is Dr. Annette Bosworth. I don't know why she has a different last name something to do with being a Doctor. People always ask that question, just the way it is.

My mom has the medicines to take to the Philippines.
My mom has the skills to Save lives.

My family does NOT have any money.

All she needs is a plane ticket. I looked this morning and the ticket costs over $2000.

Please help, you probably weren't planning on buying me a present. But, if you could help it would mean a lot.

Thank you

[Prescott Haber, on behalf of Preventive Health Strategies, Crowdrise fundraising pitch, downloaded 2013.12.04]

As of this writing, this pitch has garnered one donation, $50 from "Rick." Holy cow: maybe Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland is trying to do his Republican friends a favor by getting Bosworth out of the country!

55 comments

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