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Nothing to See Here: GOED/EB-5 Scandal Records Missing

It's official: you can now refer to the GOED/EB-5/Benda scandal as South Dakota's Watergate. Governor Dennis Daugaard's review of the finances of three programs under his beleaguered Office of Economic Development is being delayed by missing records:

GOED Commissioner Pat Costello originally estimated in a Nov. 27 memo to Gov. Dennis Daugaard that results would be available by mid-December.

But the report hasn’t been received yet from the private accounting firm doing the work, according to Tony Venhuizen, a spokesman for the governor.

He said one aspect of the review is to identify a check or electronic transfer that corresponds to every one of the expenditures.

“Some of the older expenditures records have been destroyed and the auditor is working with the bank to verify those payments using bank records. Hence the delay,” Venhuizen said [Bob Mercer, "Missing Financial Records Have Complicated EB-5 Investigations," Aberdeen American News, 2013.12.28].

Tony Venhuizen imports the "Rosemary Stretch" from Watergate to South Dakota EB5-Gate?
Tony Venhuizen imports the "Rosemary Stretch" from Watergate to South Dakota EB5-Gate?

Attorney General Marty Jackley tells Mercer that he, too, ran into a "records gap" (Mercer's phrase) when he investigated the improper diversion of funds from a GOED Future Fund loan to NBP into the pocket of former GOED chief Richard Benda.

Are you kidding me?! Or, as Republican blogger John Tsitrian says, "Are you kidding me?"

We face one of the biggest, strangest, complicatedest investigations of government corruption in South Dakota history, with links to one suspiciously dead official, two high-profile bankruptcies, secret offshore investors, national security, and the front-running U.S. Senate candidate. The Governor's selected auditors and the top law enforcement official in South Dakota all find relevant records and evidence are missing or destroyed, and the Attorney General doesn't yell "Freezeburg!!"? He hasn't sought a court orderto have every state employee to take their hands off their keyboards, unplug the office shredder, and step away from the file cabinet?

Pee-Wee Herman, Watergate
Once upon a time, boys and girls, there were some really bad guys who liked to keep secrets....

Remember, this is the same Attorney General Marty Jackley who, in six and a half months of investigating allegations of financial misconduct in Mike Rounds's GOED, never spoke to Mike Rounds's GOED chief, the guy whom the AG has now fingered as the main perp of the financial shenanigans publicized so far.

Missing records. In-house investigative irresponsibility. Keester-covering for the rich and powerful. Yes, Watergate is the word of the day. Scream real loud.


  1. Sid 2013.12.28

    I'm shocked! Gambling in Casablanca!
    Really, if one had been hanging around Aberdeen over the past couple of years, one would have seen shredding trucks parked by offices where certain individuals work.....
    Of course, the audits to be really effective must trace all funds from their origin to their final destination as well as the justification for fund transfers and verification that the services/items paid for were actually delivered as ordered.
    The Legislative Audit Committee also has subpoena power so they can subpoena all the records of SDRC and all associated entities as part of their investigation. Let Bollen and his cohorts seek a court order attacking the subpoena, it would be interesting to see how certain judges might rule.
    It does seem that Kathy Tyler has forced some movement with that committee.
    Finally, an obervation: With Watergate, as well as with nearly all targets of scandals, the greatest and most numerous offenses are committed in the course of covering up the original offense and soon make the original offense pale in comparison. After all, before the Governor knew about the Grand Jury Subpoena in March of this year, as bad as the crimes may have been, nobody had died.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.28

    WAIT! What is that whirring I'm hearing? Sounds like a paper shredder.

  3. Les 2013.12.28

    What the hey? When Sib talks like this, that whirring you hear is the black helo's. I hear you Sid, hopefully folks can start believing conspiracy does happen.

  4. interested party 2013.12.28

    Sid: what do you need for a retainer?

  5. grudznick 2013.12.28

    Is Sid the famous Mr. Strange lawyer fellow from Sioux Falls? That Sid? Larry, if you can get him on retainer you need to spare no expense. This will be a big topic at breakfast tomorrow.

  6. Rorschach 2013.12.29

    Cory really knows how to make a story icky. I don't ever want to see that photoshopped picture of Tonnis again. Or Peewee Herman.

    Why does the media - other than Bob Mercer - ignore this story? Why do they ignore the Bosworth story?

  7. barry freed 2013.12.29


    oh my, what to call it...

  8. Jim 2013.12.29

    I would be curious to know who was the custodian of these records and have they been fired? If not, Costello should resign or be fired. Winston's link indicated that eb-5 investors are to be individuals and not corporations. But the SDRC directed the money into corporations which then invested the money. I don't know if there is any type of penalty for violating this requirement. I'm sure Joop and sveen would tell you it is no big deal, and PP will tell us these missing records are just the dems trying to politicize the issue. Are these records "missing" or " destroyed", bc there is a distinction. Venhuizen(sp?) said "destroyed" so I suppose we can go with that. Tony how do you know they were "destroyed"? Like the 550k that was diverted, we can say the records aren't missing, we just don't have them bc they were destroyed. Very comforting.

  9. interested party 2013.12.29

    Relying on PP for truthful resources on the Benda-gate scandal is for imbeciles.

  10. Lynn G. 2013.12.29

    Yeah a pretty decent anti-Rounds reply was just deleted a few minutes ago over at the Ministry of Truth. Anything negative or attacking Rounds at the Ministry is strictly verboten!

  11. Lynn G. 2013.12.29

    I do like EB-Gate.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.29

    Jim, you mention a good point. Each EB-5 investment is supposed to create ten jobs. Technically speaking, each EB-5 investor put his/her money into "South Dakota Investment Fund Limited Partnerships," none of which ever created more than two or three direct jobs. The SDIF LPs employed Joop Bollen, Richard Benda, Maurice Berez, Pyush Patel, Jeff Sveen... and that's it, (as far as I know). Dozens of investors, millions of dollars... and five direct jobs.

    Names: Barry, I still defer to John Tsitrian, who came up with the best literary name for the scandal: Slaugherhouse EB-5.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.29

    R, sorry to ick you out. Maybe we could use that Tony photo to protect all remaining GOED files: tape it across the file drawers, along with some police tape, to keep people away?

  14. Wayne Pauli 2013.12.29

    I am not even surprised that there are records missing. What's will be a surprise is if real people take the fall. That will be a surprise...cue the Nixon video..."I am not a crook..."

  15. Joe 2013.12.29

    The bigger problem is why are SD records kept in storage files with no laws on how to maintain them.

  16. Wayne Pauli 2013.12.29

    A novel idea...accountability...more than your party affiliation card you mean?

  17. Les 2013.12.29

    I'm sure there are laws on file maintenance Joe, not all laws pertain to all people, you ought to know that by now!
    Kind of like, "I did not have sex with that woman", Wayne?
    Note, Tony describing destroyed. In this day and age of digital, a record destroyed has intent.

  18. mikeyc, that's me! 2013.12.29

    There's nothing to see here, people.
    Let's move along now.

  19. Les 2013.12.29

    Should be "Note to Tony", in describing destroyed.

  20. Les 2013.12.30

    Dick Butler has been a good servant to our state and his principles have stood tall. I think he could find those missing records given a chance. Heck I think he even found them after his office had been cleaned.
    For an interesting read:

  21. Bree S. 2014.01.02

    Ask DK where the GOED documents are. He still works there.

  22. DM 2014.01.03

    This sounds almost as bad as all the Obama scandals, cover ups, and lies. Ummmmmm. Naaaaaaaaaa.

  23. Bree S. 2014.01.03

    Actually, it seems remarkably similar, with the same above-the-law arrogance.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.04

    It could well be an Obama scandal, given that Senator Grassley from Iowa started investigating EB-5 because of his concerns that an Obama appointee had endangered national security by greasing the skids for Chinese EB-5 visa applicants and national Democratic cronies. Whichever wood you want to chop, the EB-5 story matters. When the state orders an investigation and finds evidence missing, everyone's alarm bells should go off, regardless of partisan agendas.

  25. owen reitzel 2014.01.04

    "This sounds almost as bad as all the Obama scandals, cover ups, and lies. Ummmmmm. Naaaaaaaaaa."

    Which are?????

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.04

    Don't get drawn in, Owen! The South Dakota EB-5 corruption is what it is, regardless of how it compares on some dreamed-up scale to other scandals. It's not a standard talk-radio blather point. It's real corruption, real abuse of power, real cronyism in our midst. People who want to keep squawking their pre-chewed points about Obama are missing the point.

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