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].
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?
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.