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Mitchell Daily Republic: GOED/SDRC Scandal Requires Bipartisan Investigation

Last updated on 2014.02.14

Like Madville Times readers and Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers, the Mitchell Daily Republic is not satisfied with Attorney General Marty Jackley's conclusions that Richard Benda killed himself and that Benda's double-billed travel reimbursements and a diversion of $550,000 from a state grant to unauthorized uses warrant no further action by Jackley's office. In a Friday editorial, the Mitchell paper calls for an independent, bipartisan investigation of the GOED/SDRC/EB-5/Benda affair:

We suggest appointment of a bipartisan panel by the governor — in addition to but independent of the ongoing state and federal investigations — to thoroughly investigate Benda’s death, his conduct regarding the Northern Beef Packers plant both during and after his employment with the state, and any and all related issues. When the investigation is over, a public report should be issued. Benda may be dead, but the public deserves to know what, exactly, he may have done and who else may have been involved.

Because most of the players in this saga are Republicans, there is an appearance of a conflict of interest, and an appearance is all it takes to poison the well. With the trustworthiness of a portion of our state government now openly called into question, we as taxpaying citizens of South Dakota deserve an independent investigation to help root out whatever corruption may exist. And the rooting can’t be done by somebody on the inside [editorial, "Appoint Panel to Investigate Benda Affair," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2013.11.29].

Public trust rests on facts and appearances. The facts we've seen so far are plenty fishy, and the Attorney General's hesitance to act on those facts enhances the appearance that South Dakotans are not getting full accountability for the use and misuse of their money. The Governor is taking positive steps, but South Dakota needs to do more to fully account for the actions of all players in the GOED/SDRC/EB-5/Benda affair.

Answers will not come easily or quickly in this complicated affair. That's all the more reason to put as many eyes as possible on this mess.


  1. Jim 2013.11.30

    Imagine if we had used that EB-5 money on a project that succeeded. Foreign investors might not view us as crooked hayseeds. What does Joop do now that his wings are clipped? Take his cut and become an archeologist?

  2. Samuel R. Kephart 2013.11.30

    This entire scandal stinks to high heaven.

    I know, like, and support Marty Jackley and I'm sure he is in exquisite pain over this... divided between what he knows is the right thing to do, which is to rip this case WIDE open with no holds barred and no favors done, versus having to be cautious to protect his pecking order status within the State GOP, which would suggest (or lean on him) that he give the benefit of the doubt to his political seniors... which I'm sure is going on behind the scenes.

    I know some things about EB-5 investments; they can be great and legitimate, but many are fat money scams.

    Has it occurred to anyone of our senior elected officials that maybe, just maybe, Chinese Mafia (Triad) money was somehow involved and scrubbed through this meat packing deal? It wouldn't be the first time.

    Like the Russian Mob, these Chinese boys can play rough.

    And even the FBI itself has recently been tainted with EB-5 money involving Chinese investors and some Las Vegas developers with mob connections:

    The potential scandal here is WAY BEYOND anything South Dakota has experienced before and, quite frankly, is properly prepared to correctly investigate, good guy Marty Jackley and his fine staff notwithstanding.

    Governor Daugaard and Jackley need to put together a Blue Ribbon panel (none of the Governor's cronies) and give them carte blanche to hire outside world-class forensic investigators, beyond the Feds and our DCI, and to secure a retired top-notch prosecutor from elsewhere to head-up the investigation and put it firmly to bed one way or the other.

    This issue is NOT going to simply blow over no matter how much hand-wringing, log-rolling, and head-shaking go on.

    Even if Benda did commit suicide, which I don't believe, then one must ask what drove him to do it and why? What did he know or fear that was so oppressive to his future prospects that he would take his life? Duh...

    Too many deep questions and too many blandishments at this point for my satisfaction.

  3. chris 2013.11.30

    I wish you would write copy for SD republican re-election ads, Sam.

  4. ron wieczorek 2013.11.30

    Hmmmm Everyone is saying the obvious while the Gov et al are circling the wagons

  5. grudznick 2013.11.30

    Mr. Wieczorek, when will you run for office again?

  6. Jana 2013.11.30

    Keep the pressure on Sam!

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.30

    Sam, I'm not up on my Chinese organized crime. Would Chinese Mafia be acting in concert with the Chinese government? Would the mafiosi focus solely on money laundering? Would EB-5 be at all useful for placing operatives (either Mafia or gov't intel) in the U.S.... or would the scrutiny of EB-5 applicants make entry more complicated and expensive than other means?

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.30

    Ron, Sam seems to be saying less than obvious. Can you propose some sharper observations and actions?

  9. chris 2013.12.01

    I just drank 3 Blue Ribbons and now Sam's theory is starting to make some sense. Good work!

  10. ron wieczorek 2013.12.01

    More like the Minnesota and New York Mafias. If Glass Steagall hadn’t been taken down in 1999 this would not have happened.

  11. Samuel R. Kephart 2013.12.01

    Cory, I have been working in international business for some months now. Not much happens in China that is not in one form or fashion either controlled by or permitted by the government. China still operates with a VERY monolithic power structure. It has the appearance of free trade and unfettered profits, but the reality is vastly different. US companies who have divisions over there have a VERY hard time getting their money out of the country. Given that fact and that US residency is actually being sold to the investor and his immediate children, the stakes are very high. I can't prove it, but I'd be willing to bet that, to some degree, this meat packing plant/Benda affair is a money-laundering operation gone awry. There is no doubt a major fix is in on this story. I had dinner last evening with Shad Olson (KNBN-TV) and he has expressly been forbidden from doing ANY investigative journalism WHATSOEVER on this story by the owners of the station. Why is that? Shad is very good at this sort of story (he's won a national Emmy previously); Jim Simpson needs to empower him here, not hold him back.

  12. interested party 2013.12.01


  13. John 2013.12.01

    South Dakota's media's role is a trumpet to hawk ads. The SD media will do nothing to impinge in their ability to raise revenue. Fourth estate be damned. Except, for the time being, that wonderful little newspaper along the James River at Mitchell.

    Jackley, had he the integrity, could walk into the governor's mansion - after, and only if, he found the intestinal fortitude to conduct a full-blown, no-holds-barred, bipartisan, professional investigation of any and everything having to do with this GOED fiasco and allow the facts to fall where they may. Alas, at this point it sadly appears the AG's office is encamped with the apparently timid sunshine patriot wagon circlers as a card-carrying member of the go-along-to-get-along crowd. Jackley is no Janklow, nor Chris Christie. The AG and its office need to rise to the occasion: to ride to the sound of the guns, and stop their French Dien Bien Phu imitation.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.01

    Ron, don't try shoe-horning the GOED/EB-5/SDRC mess into some political hobbyhorse. If you're going to tell us this matter has something to do with Glass-Steagal, you're going to have to connect the dots.

  15. ron wieczorek 2013.12.03

    Glass-Steagall is the indispensable first step to global economic recovery. It will immediately halt the onset of hyperinflation, remove government commitment from bailing out toxic debts, end too-big-to-fail banks, and force a separation of commercial banking functions from investment banking functions.

    Legislation to restore Glass-Steagall, “The Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011”, was introduced into the 112th Congress and garnered massive institutional support and 84 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

    On January 3rd, 2013 “The Return to Prudent Banking” Act was re-introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) in the 113th Congress as H.R. 129. And on May 16, 2013 a matching bill was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) as S. 985.

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