Press "Enter" to skip to content

Benda Attorney: Politics Motivate Allegations of Financial Misconduct

Last updated on 2013.11.26

Attorney General Marty Jackley says Richard Benda cheated the state out of $5,559.80 by double billing three airline tickets while serving as Governor M. Michael Rounds's former economic development chief. The narrative the state appears to be selling is that Benda done bad and killed himself over these few thousand dollars and the risk to his good rep.

Baloney, says Benda's attorney Mike Butler. The allegations (and even AG Jackley acknowledges they shall remain allegations, because Benda is dead, no trial can be held, and the state's investigation is closed) are political:

"Richard consulted with me after he became aware that he was being investigated for alleged wrong-doing in connection with (Northern Beef)," said Mike Butler of Sioux Falls.

"I had discussions with law enforcement authorities and was more than confident that the allegations were political, not criminal.

"Richard was a private man. He was angry and upset. He dreaded the publicity of being accused and the consequences of it.

"I did not imagine he would take his life. He spoke of the love of his daughter and how this would impact her.

"Richard was a great public servant and father and friend to many" [Bob Mercer, "Benda Attorney: 'Allegations Were Political'," Aberdeen American News, 2013.11.23].

We must immediately toss the "did not imagine" line from our considerations. After almost every suicide, we can find family and friends who can say they saw no signs that the deceased was thinking of ending her or his own life.

But pay close attention to the rest of Butler's statement. He's not talking about bloggers or Democrats throwing political charges. He's talking about political motivations in the Republican administration of the state of South Dakota. That should raise some alarm that the state is telling us the story it wants us to here and not the whole story.


  1. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Who was traveling with Benda on the trips that include double billing? Or did Benda go at all?

  2. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Now my question is, do we believe Jackley on where he says that half a mil went.

  3. Jerry 2013.11.23

    It has been interesting to read all of the articles about Chinese involvement in our state. Not so long ago, we were all up in arms about Chinese dealings on our west coast and its potential national security issues with those ports. Now it seems that even a liberal outlet like the New York Times is spooked about reporting on Chinese corruption.

    What does that have to do with our own case here in South Dakota? Who knows? But it seems that there is a consistent sweeping Chinese issues under the rug. I would hope that the federal government has the guts to pursue this situation here in our state as it is clear that the local politicos are too deep in the pockets of our Chinese friends to give us the answers. A guy killing himself over a couple thousand bucks, please, this is the best you can do Marty? 5 grand is chump change to this bunch and could be raised without much effort. There is more to this, much more it seems. There are millions of dollars that have vanished here in a ponzi scheme that was designed to be a failure from the start. The taxpayers of South Dakota took a hit for sure with this reckless behavior, but the Chinese took a big hit as well. So with all of the broken promises and loss of huge amounts of capital "investment", one could say that there is most certainly a motive for revenge. That makes more sense than a suicide over a small claims court issue.

  4. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Agreed, Jerry. All these Chinese connections are worrisome.

  5. joseph g thompson 2013.11.23

    The China connection is the one worthy of investigation, but as with an honest investigation of Islamic fascism in the U.S., those in a position to do the investigation won't, because they are to afraid of what the results could be.

  6. sdakota 2013.11.23

    At the risk of going seriously off-topic, could Joseph G Thompson provide one example of 'Islamic fascism in the U.S.' ?

  7. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    "Hi, I'm Attorney General Marty Jackley. I was appointed by Rounds, contributed to Rounds, and hosted fundraisers for Rounds, but there is no need for me to recuse myself, I am the pinnacle of honesty - don't worry South Dakotans. Rounds is not the subject of the state investigation. What's that you say? Rounds is known to have attended one of the events for which there was double billing of the travel vouchers that I am investigating? There is video evidence? Completely irrelevant. No need to look into that, I repeat Rounds is not the subject of the state investigation. I have completed my investigation and have determined that Benda and an imaginary friend are responsible for the double billing to the state. He bought tickets for his imaginary friend due to the mental instability that was developing, which ultimately led him to get dressed up in hunting clothes, tramp off into the middle of nowhere, and shoot himself in the stomach with a shot gun. Case closed. I have better things to do with my time, like persecute disabled combat veterans under obscure repealed state statutes."

  8. joseph g thompson 2013.11.23

    Mr or MS sdakota
    I prefer to use the term Islamic fascism rather than Islamic radicalism, and there a many examples of Islamic radicalism in the U.S. I am not a teacher and if you post on Cory's blog you should be capable of researching yourself.

  9. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Sharia law is religious fascism sdakota. Obvious fact.

  10. interested party 2013.11.23

    christian fascism is what Ted Cruz and John Thune profess.

  11. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    That's an unbelievable reach, Larry. Why don't you say something more like Father Coughlin was a Christian Fascist. That statement is true, your statement is ridiculous.

  12. interested party 2013.11.23

    My statement is only as ridiculous as your and Mr. Thompson's was however your Coughlin statement is half-fast, too.

  13. joseph g thompson 2013.11.23

    Disagree, would only torment Dems and doesn't matter if the Dem is Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or atheist, black, white, brown, male, female, or other, just so long as they are Dems. Much as Harry Reid practices his brand of fascism. Can't list any from the Dem side in South Dakota cause none of them have any power.

  14. Jerry 2013.11.23

    As I am trying to understand here mr. joseph is that somehow you think Mr. Benda is an Islamic fundamentalist, or what rabbit trail are you following? I fail to see the link with Islam and Mr. Benda and his fate.

  15. interested party 2013.11.23

    grammar police: call me.

  16. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    It's just one of those off-topic things that happen on the Madville Times, lol.

  17. joseph g thompson 2013.11.23

    no link a thought on investigations

  18. joseph g thompson 2013.11.23

    Wait until somebody starts talking Klingon.

  19. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    That would be Larry. And I'm not knocking it, my husband being a big fan of the original Star Trek and original Battlestar Galactica. I'm a bit of a Firefly fan myself.

  20. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    And Larry links Islamic militants to Benda-gate, lol. Got any evidence of that particular group here?

  21. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.23

    Does in anyone know if Mike Butler weighed in on whether Benda's death being an accident, suicide or murder?

    Did Benda have a will?

    I'm hoping family and friends will respond to Jackley calling it a suicide.

  22. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Notice that on page 9 the Offering Memo is said to be from November of 2009, one of the double-billed travel vouchers also from that time frame.

  23. Roger Elgersma 2013.11.23

    There is an attitude that if the public knows what we want them to then we can manipulate the situation. The problem is that that attitude assumes that the truth will not come out and we can make people think the world is a nice place. Well when the death penalty is used typically the murder rate goes up. Jackley and Daugaard made a big point that we only execute real bad people and the murder rate did not go up. But the violent crime went up a lot.
    When those two young women died on the way to a party fourty years ago there was a big search and not they found the car at the nearest bridge and claim the search missed it and it was just an accident. Well their friend found the car a few days later behind the barn of a man who was known by the women to be chasing a lot of women in a very selfish way. But they overturned the case since they say the main witness lied. Covering up crime does not solve cases and it does not make the public trust the system.
    If Jackley did not put out a report right away it might be that they had a hard time finding a suspect. They maybe did not want to make a wrong statement. They should have stood with finding the truth first rather just appease public opinion by making a decision. Those people tend to not want to say it was a crime and not close it for lack of evidence. Well if it is not known, then be patient till you find the truth rather than just covering up for public opinion. Finding the truth is still better than just making it look good.
    When someone has a hole in them sounds like a bullet. A shotgun makes a bigger hole. If there was no blood and he does not hunt, was he dead before he got to the scene. Then there would be no noise to alert anyone either. Then his gun could handily be propped up against a tree and no ones fingerprints on it.

  24. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.23

    Poop on this Islamic facism discussion, it's not relevant.

    What is relevant are Jerry's comments about the Chinese. It would help us to know who the Chinese and other foreign investors are. What level of security did they have to make investments in American ventures?

    Obviously these foreign investors lost money, big time, and we have not heard from any of them, who are they and why aren't they asking questions about their investments?

  25. Donald Pay 2013.11.23

    The angle on the Chinese can sometimes get a bit paranoid. I see it from the other side, since my daughter is now involved in startup companies in China, where she resides.

    Let's start by realizing that Chinese families that are wealthy enough to participate in the EB-5 program are likely to be from the elite. (My daughter would point out the same is most often the case with Americans doing business in China.) Like the elite here in the US who move to China for business, the Chinese living here are mostly cosmopolitan, tolerant and mostly liberal in their political philosophy. They are not hard-line 1950s commies. The EB-5 participants may have benefited financially from corruption in China or have been involved in state owned enterprises, but they are also very much interested in freedom and in entrepreneurial activities. (That is not much different from the elite here. Though we don't have state owned enterprises, we have lots of government-sponsored corporate welfare.) So, American citizens doing business in China are about the same as Chinese citizens doing business in America, ie., they are interested in making money, participating in a different culture, and taking what they learn back. They aren't spying, though, perhaps, there is some intellectual theft of the kind the US has been so good at over the years.

    To most Chinese, investment in agricultural endeavors in the US would seem to be a fairly safe investment. After all, it is not in the banking and tech sectors, with all the potential for volatility and crashes. Add to that the fact that China really want to modernize its ag sector, and getting some experience in investing in a modern processing plant would be valuable for them.

    Just as a lot of our corporations views spending a few years on China as a major plus on the resume, Chinese businesses feel the same about Chinese who have spent time in the US. EB-5 provides a resume builder, but it also buys the Chinese an anchor here in the United States if China retrogresses.

  26. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.11.23

    Roger Cornelius wrote, "Obviously these foreign investors lost money, big time, and we have not heard from any of them, who are they and why aren't they asking questions about their investments?"

    And maybe that is the answer to Roger's question. They did ask questions and the State of SD is terrified that the investors investigation and followup is not over with.

  27. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Is my browser messed up or is DWC losing sponsors?

  28. Dakota Kid 2013.11.23

    Maybe Mr. Benda was a really busy guy and wasn't sure whether or not the plane ticket had been submitted for reimbursement. Why aren't any fingers being pointed at accounting? They must just pay out whatever State employees submit? How did they not catch that one before they paid it out - three times? Submitting same ticket three times - not good. Paying for it three times - hard to believe!

  29. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    I wonder how Rounds got away with using taxpayer funds to use the state plane for personal use. Planes.. Plane tickets.. Somehow these things slip through the cracks in South Dakota state government.

  30. Dakota Kid 2013.11.23

    Oops. Just read Mr. Jackley's letter and noted that it was actually two separate plane tickets - with each one being submitted just twice. Easier to see how that could be submitted twice by accident - but still hard to believe that accounting didn't catch it. Whether this instance was an honest mistake or not - one really has to wonder how much gets paid out by mistake on a regular basis! I am more concerned about how much we are losing to all State employees than I am about this particular instance.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.23

    Thanks for pointing that out, I had not realized that my own question may in fact be the answer.

    Mr. Pay, excellent post on the financial culture we are dealing with in both China and at home. Your last sentence is intriguing "but it also buys the Chinese an anchor here in the United States if China retrogresses".

    I'm wondering if that is the reason the Chinese businessmen are making these investments. They would likely be the first to know if the Chinese economy was going south. Scary thought.

  32. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Dakota Kid, did you catch that great interview of Rounds at the 2010 Shot Show? Boy, he gives great interviews doesn't he?

  33. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    3 tickets submitted for double billing, Dakota. One (doubled) to an Immigration and Investment Forum for EB5 in China (Nov 1 2009), Another (doubled) to China in December 2009, and a third (double billed) to the 2010 Las Vegas Shot Show.

  34. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Do you get it Dakota? The gig is up, you guys can't keep the trutth under wraps and try to squeeze through the primary: The Feds are obviously investigating Rounds.

  35. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.23


    Nice try. Benda forgot that he tripled billed the state for travel so he kills himself?

  36. Jenny 2013.11.23

    Hi everyone, I haven't been keeping up with the latest. Is this true the Feds are indeed investigating Rounds or just speculation?

  37. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    See the youtube video at the top of comments. Link to interview of Mike Rounds at the 2010 Las Vegas Shot Show. One of the double-billed vouchers that the Feds subpoenaed was to that show (see letters at Pure Pierre Politics). It's small potatoes money-wise, but shows the Feds are investigating Rounds. It's highly unlikely they aren't investigating him anyway, especially with his history of defrauding the taxpayer for his travel expenses. At the very least it makes Jackleys declaration that Rounds wasn't being investigated by the state sound pretty stupid since it only took me 3 minutes to find out he could be suspiciously linked to the travel vouchers.

  38. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Benda was also at the shot show. Article mentioned a businessman named Williamson there too. Small possibility the ticket was for Williamson, but I doubt it. If Benda was passing plane tickets out like candy they would have subpoenaed more than three.

  39. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Well, I don't know maybe it was for Williamson and I'm jumping to conclusions because Rounds was at the show. The article does say Benda invited him.. Would Rounds be able to charge the state for a plane ticket to go to this shot show? Is this valid state business travel?

  40. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    So would Governor Mike Rounds be able to get a travel voucher to attend the 2010 Las Vegas Shot Show under section 6? Is that a work-related duty requiring his attendance? I'm leaning "no" but I'm not sure.

    (6) A constitutional officer or state employee attending a public meeting to perform work-related duties that necessarily require attendance at that public meeting. To obtain reimbursement under this subdivision, the voucher must include a written statement of the purpose of attendance at the public meeting and must be approved by the institution or head of the agency.

  41. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    If Mike Rounds wouldn't qualify for a travel voucher to attend the 2010 Las Vegas Shot Show, then he absolutely should have been investigated by the Attorney General since he attended the event.

  42. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Otherwise - produce your travel voucher for the event Mike Rounds.

  43. Rick 2013.11.23

    Something stinks horribly about Marty Jackley's role in this GOED probe and his ham-fisted handling of the suicide proclamation. Lots of people commit suicide, depressed over far less damaging allegations than embezzlement. But lots more people in a whole lot worse trouble than what seems to be alleged against Benda face the charges and take the punishment ... and move on with life.

    From what I've read about Mr. Benda in Bob Mercer's writings and from the hearsay I've picked up over the years, the man was far too level-headed and intelligent to grab a gun and do himself in. Is it possible a man like him would commit suicide? Yes. Anything is possible. But was it probable? Again from what I've read and heard, the answer is a firm no.

    On top of that, Mr. Benda was a father who adored his daughter. As a parent who dearly loves his daughters, I cannot imagine being so desperate and depressed that I would hurt them like this. If it came down to having them attend my funeral after taking my life or asking them to visit me in prison having disgraced myself in a white collar crime, the choice would be easy. We can all recover and move on from a criminal punishment.

    I've contemplated this sad death and its implications. The clincher is the love and support of one's children, as well as a man's intelligence and personal determination. These factors should not be underestimated.

  44. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Boy, Troy and Bill really took it to heart when I told them to continue their rant on the DWC.. lol.

  45. Bree S. 2013.11.23

    Troy and Grudz. Whatever. All the same.

  46. Jenny 2013.11.24

    So there was, and will be, no federal investigation into Benda's mysterious death? And has anyone looked into where Joop Bollen was on the day Benda was murdered? Did Joop all of a sudden take up hunting as a hobby? What about phone records between Joop and Benda?
    Were the two on good terms since the Fed investigation? Another question, was Ray Johannesen ever charged with anything for killing those horses, and if not, why wasn't he? This would just stir the resentment more between the whites/nonwhites in Charles Mix County.

  47. Bree S. 2013.11.24

    Yeah, he's a peach. Has some pretty nasty things to say about his neighbors.

  48. Douglas Wiken 2013.11.24

    Unless of course you drive through a stop sign and kill a horse. A horse is a horse of course and if it repeatedly trespasses on other's crops is a pest like aphids, cutworms, deer.

  49. Bree S. 2013.11.24

    Apparently some of the horses were followed and shot on the owner's land. I'm not saying horses should be treated like humans, but it strikes me as a vengeful act intended to cause someone else sorrow.

  50. John 2013.11.24

    Jackley's "report" is anything but in which he fails to name a single name of anyone either involved in wrong doing, auditing, or that the "investigation" exonerated. We likely may never know exactly how ham-fisted was the "investigation" - but we do know the "report" appears as a pathetic, political whitewash indicating that only the pronoun people were at fault. It appears as a classic case of pin it all on the deceased, nothing to see here folks, move along.

Comments are closed.