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Jackley Blames Media, Presses Own Inaccuracies about EB-5 and Benda

While millions of dollars disappear in the Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy and fishy EB-5 visa investment program, Attorney General Marty Jackley seems preoccupied with waging war on the press. When he conditionally granted Bob Mercer's request for a press review of the Richard Benda death investigation files, AG Jackley took a gratuitous yet unsubstantiated swipe at online journalists reporting on his dereliction of duty on the EB-5/Benda scandal.

Friday, after he canceled that media review, and after Mercer got sources to link Benda to the misappropriation of a state grant to NBP, AG Jackley went ape on the media in general. In his Friday press release, Jackley claimed that the South Dakota press is getting his part in the EB-5 story wrong:

As Attorney General, I am disappointed to have read certain Editorials relating to the state’s investigation into the $550,000 diversion of funds to the federal EB-5 program. Because it is uncharacteristic of reputable news sources to present inaccurate information to the public, I hope they take this opportunity to present accurate information to their readers [Attorney General Marty Jackley, press release, 2013.12.13].

While again failing to cite one specific instance of an inaccurate media report, AG Jackley complains about accusations that he hasn't investigated the state's use of the EB-5 program. He then repeats and enhances his argument that he can't investigate the EB-5 program:

...Although the Attorney General has no authority over a federal EB-5 program and the associated approval process of funds, it will continue to cooperate with federal authorities. As an elected official my skin is thick, but the prosecutors and investigators in this case and the public deserve better reporting from reputable news sources [Jackley, 2013.12.13].

Note the new phrase: the associated approval process of funds.

Note also that Jackley again misstates the nature of the story. He is correct that he has no authority over federal programs. But his release and the reports to which it responds deal with state Grant #1434, issued by Governor Marion Michael Rounds, to Northern Beef Packers, a private corporation. NBP was receiving millions of dollars of EB-5 money, but the authorizing agreement for Grant #1434 does not mention the EB-5 program. For Jackley to imply that he can't look into questions about state Grant #1434 because the money ultimately ended up in the hands of dudes administering the federal EB-5 program is like saying he can't investigate my stealing money out of his pocket because I used that money to bribe an IRS agent.

The press is perfectly justified in questioning the Attorney General's handling of the EB-5/Benda investigations. The press is perfectly justified in asking why the Attorney General, in six months of investigating pretty straightforward misappropriation of funds with Benda's literal fingerprints on them, not to mention the easily documentable double-billing of airplane tickets, didn't take the very obvious step of questioning Richard Benda.

And on the question of Benda's death investigation, the press is perfectly justified in saying that Jackley is making up rules and violating basic rule of law:

Moreover, Jackley is, quite literally, making up the rules as he goes. First, he refuses media inspection of a death investigation of an official involved in an FBI investigation, then agrees to allow a pool report of redacted documents, and now media access has been denied by allowing a family member to simply refuse to give written permission.

Benda’s death investigation report should be available to the media under rules that are not arbitrarily decided by public officials.

We call on the South Dakota Legislature to change state law so that investigation reports are public records that can only be sealed by a court. Making up rules on the fly, especially when a person’s death is involved, is not how civil societies are supposed to function [editorial, Rapid City Journal, 2013.12.15].

The only inaccuracies coming out of the reputable press on the Attorney General's handling of the EB-5/Benda affair are the quotations the press prints from the Attorney General's office. If the public is losing trust in the Attorney General's office, he has no one to blame but himself.


  1. interested party 2013.12.16

    When DD does the right thing and asks for Marty's resignation whom would he appoint?

  2. Sid 2013.12.16

    The first response of politicians who are caught in these situations is to try and kill the messenger. Second response is to withold information for all kinds of phony reasons. (Family privacy and the grand jury secrecy red herring thrown at Bob Mercer is a great example-As Mr. Mercer said: People should go read the rule.) After all, if those pesky "irresponsible journalists" would just go home and confine their reporting to repeating the minutes of the local school board meeting instead of talking about all this corruption and coverup by the politicians, then the politicians could concentrate on keeping the status quo and keep treating those foolish voters who elected them as mushrooms.
    Besides, if they keep crying 'foul' loud and long enough, they think they might manage to also obscure the fact that Daugaard fretting about the problems with the SDRC crowd as early as summer, 2011. For that matter, Daugaard (during his 2011 fretting) let it be known that he was aware that certain persons were involved in 'crooked deals' while he was Lt. Governor but turned a blind eye even then.

  3. Cranky Old Dude 2013.12.16

    This just proves that it's never too early to start trying to discredit your critics or any possible whistleblowers-or too late either! None of this should be any surprise, considering how this same pack runs the legislature with a blatant disregard for the rules, the law and the state constitution.

  4. Charlie Johnson 2013.12.16

    Time for a new governor and AG.

  5. Jim 2013.12.16

    Marty, the 550k wasn't diverted in the EB-5 program. It was state money that went to NBP for construction and equipment then was misappropriated for a different use. Please quit acting like you don't have jurisdiction investigate that. If you're frustrated that South Dakotans want to know what happened here, take it out on Mike and Bollen who were two of the primary architects of this whole debacle. While you are at it, let us know what happened to that extra 100k of future fund money.

  6. Jana 2013.12.16

    Mercer must have hit a nerve with Mike Round's press secretary Powers! Probably got a memo from the boss saying Mercer is getting too close, mess him up with innuendo and call him a liberal or something.

    Yes, we are all aware of Mercer's liberal background working for a GOP governor.

    By the way, Joan Jett is on a USO tour entertaining troops abroad...wonder if military is aware of her commie subversive eating habits.

  7. Rorschach 2013.12.16

    I appreciate the effort Bob Mercer is putting in to drill down to the truth in this matter. It takes courage to stand up to the political establishment in a one-party state. With the way Mr. Mercer is willing to dig for the truth, it's not likely he'll be offered one of those $110,000 taxpayer-funded press secretary jobs in Pierre. Nor will Cory, who does it in the spirit of a debater and for the love of the truth. But if the public can be convinced to rises up against crony capitalism, and pure old cronyism, then there is a glimmer of hope for a lot of people's futures.

  8. Jerry 2013.12.16

    Mr. Mercer is correct in his description of democrats as being weak in the state. So what comprises the state electoral demographics? Why do we tolerate a bunch of crooks and liars from any party? Just because you put an R in front of your name, should not give you a right to steal from the rest of the R's or lie to all of the D's.

    No one really wants to hear that our state is run by a mob, not by a mob of the Tony Soprano kind, but a dangerous mob indeed. We are run by a mob that is so crooked and deceitful that they will not allow us to pay the protection racket voluntarily. In Tony Soprano's world, they at least allowed you to make a living so that you could afford to pay. Our jokers bring in the Chinese and Koreans, Russians and whomever to finish the job of sucking the marrow from our bones. How the hell these guys have stayed out of the pokey is beyond me. From the former governor to the present governor, along with all who aided and abetted these scams, should be doing the perp walk, like the mob they are. No amnesty either for the lot.

  9. Bree S. 2013.12.16

    Yeah we all know Mercer is liberal. It's not like that's some kind of secret. But Mercer was going to work with Dunsmoor going over the investigation file, which seems pretty balanced to me.

    Jackley is amazing. "I'm not breaking any laws by being an Establishment obstructionist."

  10. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.16

    Cory and Mercer are doing their best to follow in the foot steps of Woodward and Bernstein. Remember how it turned out for all of the fallen of the Nixon administration when they declared war on the New York Times and Washington Post.

    There are still many components to this fraud committed by our state's Republican leadership. Where will it lead?
    There is still a huge amount of money unaccounted for and we have a Senatorial candidate boasting of a $9,000,000 to $12,000,000 campaign war chest. Dare I ask where that money came from?

    Another thing that I have been curious about is Jackley. It is difficult to understand why Jackley may well be the second fall guy in this investigation.

    Is his desire to protect the Republican Party from investigation and possible prosecution greater than getting re-elected attorney general?

    If he has political aspirations to crawl into the governor's chair in a couple of years, this could make or break him.
    If he refuses to disclose to South Dakotans the truth about the Benda death and GOED/EB-5 scandal he is a done politically.
    If he chooses to do the right thing, he will be perceived as a hero, not only to Republicans that care about their party, but Democrats and Independents as well.

  11. Rorschach 2013.12.16

    Seems like Bob Mercer would be a perfect candidate to do an expose on Dr. Bosworth. Since nobody else in the press thinks her financial shenanigans are news he can corner the mainstream media market.

  12. Les 2013.12.16

    I was actually being cynical in my Mercer lib post. He may not be conserv in Nelson's mind but he does represent possibly a very large number of conservatives in SD, and is being minimized by another segment of our political society.

  13. Lynn G. 2013.12.16

    I got a kick out of the comment from DWC Democratic Legislator Rejects Need for Further Audit. The comment was "It’s probably best we just sweep all this EB-5 and other nonsense under the rug and move forward. Let the Feds deal with it. Besides voters will forget it anyways."

    Yep! Their working on it by attacking anyone who presses for an investigation, more information, audit or holding someone accountable for what happened.

  14. Jana 2013.12.16

    Uh oh. Marty is dangling the bright shiny object of imposing big government on prescription pain killers needed by so many, including veterans who have been wounded.

    Oh sure, there is abuse, but the thought of a staunch conservative intruding on the free market because he is unable not competent enough to enforce the laws already on the books.

    Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP.

    On the other hand, it will keep him from filing frivolous law suits trying to nullify the will of the people in the last two Presidential elections.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.16

    Jana, I won't hold it against AG Jackley for trying to get some other work done. He should be frying bigger fish, but there are still little things like pill reform to tackle... and yes, the big-government irony is rich!

    Larry, that's a good column from Joe O'Sullivan! AG Jackley's note to Joe is interesting... though when I read the part where Jackley says he offered a media pool arrangement based on how well that's worked in capital cases, I thought that any comparison of Benda's death to executions is probably unwise.

  16. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.18

    Jackley really needs to go after gays abusing painkilling drugs who are also atheists, marching demonstrators, and flag protestors. Better yet, he might hammer on guys confined to wheelchairs and living on welfare. He could go to Africa to get working models for executing gays based on prodding from US religious conservatives. I guess it isn't quite close enough to an election for full-bore Republican campaign tactics.

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