Bob Mercer sees an important, complex, and disturbing story in the vast mess of the Governor's Office of Economic Development/EB-5 visa investment/Northern Beef Packers investigation. In the midst of a lengthy, thoughtful essay on the topic, he includes this provocative paragraph on doubt about Attorney General Marty Jackley's conclusion that former GOED chief Richard Benda committed suicide:
Some friends of Richard Benda said Thursday evening they don’t believe he committed suicide. He was cut loose by the Daugaard team in late 2010 as part of the transition from an outgoing governor to an incoming governor. He spent the last years of his life trying to get the beef plant project completed and in operation. The plant was an outgrowth of the Rounds administration’s push for its South Dakota Certified beef cattle marketing program. The beef plant was the next step, and that goal was reached last year, but the business struggled for various reasons and collapsed financially in July [Bob Mercer, "'...a self-inflicted gunshot wound...ruled a suicide'," Pure Pierre Politics, 2013.11.22].
Speaking very generally, I can understand how hard it can be to accept that loved one would kill himself or herself. Suicide carries a stigma... and it should, as one more bulwark against our friends and family falling into weakness and doing it. We don't want to think or speak ill of the dead. Saying that a loved one killed himself, as some level, speaks ill of that person.
But let's speak specifically. Some folks are telling Bob Mercer and me that they don't believe the Attorney General's conclusion that Richard Benda took his own life. Those people are necessarily saying that the Attorney General of South Dakota is either mistaken or lying.
To say that the Attorney General is mistaken, that he marshaled state and federal resources for a month-long investigation and came up with the wrong answer about a suspicious death, is significant and serious.
To say that the Attorney General is lying is far more grave. Why would he lie? To serve what interests? To protect whom? On what hard evidence would you base such a claim?
What either case, what consequences should follow? The Utah Attorney General is resigning over allegations of ethics violations. Claims that Richard Benda did not commit suicide concomitantly accuse the Attorney General of South Dakota of an ethical violation, or at least a grave error.
This isn't a soap opera or some fanfic chat room. This is real politics.
If you truly believe Richard Benda did not commit suicide, if you disagree with the judgment call of the highest law enforcement official in the state, you need to call your legislators and urge them to call for a special session to review all documents related to the Attorney General's investigation of this suspicious death and the related issues (and Bob Mercer's essay strongly suggests they are related) of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the EB-5 visa investment program, and Northern Beef Packers.