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Bollen and Benda’s EB-5/Keystone XL Connection: Pure Greed

Last updated on 2014.06.23

I had a long drive yesterday, with plenty of time to think about Joop Bollen, Richard Benda, and their scheme to get rich funneling EB-5 money to TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. But it only took me about ten minutes out of the driveway to realize that the EB-5/KXL overreach was an outright violation of Bollen's contract with the state and the whole purpose of the state economic development office.

Recall the terms of Bollen's contract with the Governor's Office of Economic Development (the contract inked while Benda was GOED/DTSD chief, the contract that took Bollen's EB-5 operations private as SDRC, Inc., and out from under more strict state scrutiny):

A. DTSD is an agency and instrumentality of the State of South Dakota empowered and directed to promote economic development in South Dakota and to enter into public-private partnerships for the purpose of promoting economic development in South Dakota.

...D. DTSD desires to contract with SDRC for the pirpose of having SDRC administer the Regional Center and the EB5 Program and to market the EB5 Program for the benefit of South Dakota, all in conformity with applicable statutes and regulations [Department of Tourism and State Development, contract with SDRC, Inc., 2009.12.22].

Bollen and Benda sought to expand SDRC beyond South Dakota's borders in order to solicit EB-5 funds for stretches of the Keystone XL pipeline and pumping stations in Montana and Nebraska. The state contract allowed Bollen to work on EB-5 "within the Regional Center's territory," but the above text, GOED's mission statement, state law, and common sense make clear that South Dakota's state economic development authority is supposed to promote economic development in South Dakota. Let's look at the statute establishing GOED's purpose:

The Governor's Office of Economic Development shall forge a private-public partnership among state government, local communities, higher education, and the private sector to create jobs that create goods and services for use within the state and for export outside the state, which results in the creation of new wealth [SDCL 1-53-3].

Funding Bollen and Benda's EB-5 promotion to lay pipe in Montana and Nebraska would not "create jobs that create goods and services for use within" South Dakota.

Remember also the basic tenet of government promotion of economic development: we spend tax dollars to make things happen that wouldn't happen without government help. TransCanada has said it needs no government assistance to build Keystone XL. TransCanada is an oil company. They are stinking rich. They've planned to fund the pipeline out of cash flow. And they've planned to build Keystone XL through South Dakota all along.

TransCanada didn't need any government incentive or crutch to choose a pipeline route through South Dakota. Bollen and Benda's desire to divert EB-5 money to TransCanada would not have created a single job or cranked out a single dollar of tax revenue that TransCanada didn't already plan to plow into South Dakota. The only unique benefit of connecting EB-5 investment with Keystone XL would have been more money in the pockets of Joop Bollen, Richard Benda, and their friends in the EB-5 money machine.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.04.21

    Not to mention the sex trafficking that could be skimmed without ever showing up on any ledger. That Kristi is on the bandwagon decrying human trafficking sticks out like a sore thumb: what does she know and when did she know it?

  2. Paul Seamans 2014.04.21

    On top of everything in your article, TransCanada stood to receive a rebate on the contractors excise tax that is paid to the state. The larger the project, the higher the percentage of the rebate. TC would have received a rebate of 90% on the KXL. If I remember right TC would have been rebated around $50 million. This was another of Gov. Round's pet economic development projects. To the credit of the legislature, with a little guidance from citizen lobbyists, they threw out this law, I believe in 2010 or 2011.

  3. Jenny 2014.04.21

    You need to put the Rounds and Bollen photo back up, Cory. That photo says it all.

  4. Curt 2014.04.21

    I would like to see that photo also.

  5. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    Come on, Larry. What does Brendan Johnson know. Is he complicit for decrying human trafficking?

  6. Steve 2014.04.21

    I've tried to follow this story, the whole thing is very convoluted and hard to get my head around with what appears to be missing information. I'm guessing the entire EB-5 program worked exactly how it was intended to, to pilfer cash from foreigners that have no recourse to try and get it back. It would not surprise me to find out that Rounds had his fingers in this and that is why so much information is missing.

  7. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    I agree with you Bree. As much as I dislike Kriti Noem, that is one very good thing that she has done, to get involved with the stopping of sex trafficking. It is bad enough with the out of state hunters who come in, but if and when they start drilling for oil, we could have a problem as bad as what ND has on their oil fields.

    I am no prude. I know what the oldest profession is, but many of these girls/women have been kidnapped or taken advantage of in other ways to get them into this business and with no recourse or means of getting out without the help of government.

  8. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    We could make pimping a crime punishable by castration. I'd be okay with that.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.21

    I like your suggestion Bree. Something about "making the punishment fit the crime?"

  10. larry kurtz 2014.04.21

    and for female pimps: hysterectomies?

  11. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    Hmm. That is a tough one Larry. Let's cut their noses off. It's a bit Hammurabi, but a good deterrent. Lol.

  12. larry kurtz 2014.04.21

    Do they fall under South Dakota's sex offender laws? Make them outcasts and shame them into living in Onida`/

  13. mike from iowa 2014.04.21

    I've heard that living in Des Moines and dying is redundant. Send them to Des Moines for a life sentence.

  14. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    Fine with me Larry. People who live off the suffering of innocent young girls and boys should be shamed. I'll look at their ugly faces if it means less children are raped and abused.

  15. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    Lanny, in my opinion the problem with prostitution has nothing to do with the morality of the sexual act, but rather it leads to abortions of unwanted children as well as children raised without fathers. As long as abortion was illegal, I wouldn't personally care if prostitution was legal because the prostitutes would have to assume the risk of children if they didn't use appropriate birth control methods. In my opinion birth control is much more effective than it is given credit. Its amazing how many times birth control has failed when a relationship is on the rocks.

    It would still be a less than pretty business there's not much that can be done about that. But I would rather a woman do things of her own free will than be forced into an evil abusive shadow business.

    Another problem is all the red tape involved with adoptions. I almost feel like the government is trying to encourage the choice of abortion over adoption, drumming up business for the baby killers at Planned Parenthood.

  16. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    You had to drag abortion into the conversation didn't you Bree? We are not talking about prostitution. Prostitution is when a woman offers herself for sale for sex. Sex trafficking has to do with kidnapping, enslavement and other means to get a girl/woman to offer herself for sex. If you think these people go to PP for an abortion, you are kidding yourself. They do this the old fashioned way in butcher shop fashion in the case that the girl/woman gets pregnant. They want to take no chance that law enforcement would get inovlved.

  17. grudznick 2014.04.21

    Mr. H I hope your long drive isn't because you are fleeing to California but instead are coming back to run for Madison chamber of commerce.

    Mrs. S, you are indeed right. It is amazing home many times birth control fails when a woman decides the relationship is on the rocks and decides to sort of raise the stakes try try and get more love.

    Mr. Pay, when you listen to Mr. Rhoden's presser tomorrow I hope you notice that he will no doubt express zero support for some garbage dump being created in Provo, your greatest paranoia.

  18. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    grudz, his presser is probably to announce that in the interest of his former boss, he is going to withdraw from the Senate race as it may be getting a little hot there at the top for his boss.

  19. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    I am confused as to how you can state we are not talking about prostitution, or "the oldest profession." Sex trafficking indeed often involves forced prostitution, but that still falls under the category of prostitution. I am trying to have a logical conversation with you about this, let's try not to get emotional about even if it is an upsetting topic.

    It was an obvious logical jump for me to discuss legalizing prostitution, as it is often argued that doing so would reduce sex trafficking. There was recently an article in the NY Times that stated that legalizing prostitution would increase trafficking. However, this article shows the funny numbers involved:

    Clearly we are interested in reducing SEX SLAVERY whether or not free will prostitution increases is irrelevant - so the point of legalizing prostitution would be to reduce sex slavery.

    Now, I was stating my position that I wouldn't mind if prostitution was legalized as long as abortion was illegal. That should be obvious since I am strongly pro-life, and children are a consequence of sex. I am actually more hesitant about legalizing drugs like marijuana than I would be about prostitution. That might seem odd to some people but the number one concern I have in thinking about any issue is deleterious effects on children and I worry about increasing the access to drugs and addictions among children. Legalizing prostitution I would postulate would help save young girls from sex slavery. Therefore I see it as reducing crimes on children.

    You brought up the underground abortion doctor working for sex rings - another reason to make prostitution legal as long as abortion was illegal. A legal business working out in the open would be less likely to engage in such illegal activities. A legal sex worker would be more likely to take a pill and use a condom.

  20. grudznick 2014.04.21

    Larry, has our good friend Bill ever related some of my stories about the old Esquire Club on Main to you? There's one that fits this threading quite well don't you think?

  21. larry kurtz 2014.04.21

    ...and universal health care would treat addiction and care for those in the industry. Dr. Maddox was famous for caring for Deadwood's sex workers long before Bill Janklow raped Jacinta Eagle Deer.

  22. Nick Nemec 2014.04.21

    Another perfectly good thread hijacked by the never ending, never to be resolved debate on abortion. Let's get back to EB-5. Why would Benda and Bollen want to include Trans-Canada in their schemes? The obvious graft raked off the top is the only possibility, never mind that Trans-Canada didn't want to play. I wonder who else was getting kickbacks.

  23. larry kurtz 2014.04.21

    Mr. Nemec: Deadwood is a recipient of Bendagate funding: an historical recreation of western myth. One striking patient of Dr. Maddox was Sheila: a Barbie suffering from strabismus.

  24. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    Mr Kurtz, If you watched the debate a week ago last Saturday, Mr Ravensburg made the point that 11 Democrat Senators had approached President Obama about approving the Keystone XL for the reasons described in the article you cited. The only thing is that none of the Democrats in the area in which the pipeline will be laid, have supported it and neither have most sitting Republicans. But the five Republican candidates here in SD, are all supporting it as a way to cut down our dependence on Middle East oil. What they neglect to mention is the tar sands is destined to be refined for China.

  25. mike from iowa 2014.04.21

    Since when did truth get in the way of a good lie for political gain? The old saying is everyone wants it,but not in their backyards. I was always amazed at how fast wingnuts changed their stories on whether Clinton had a surplus when they discovered they could spin it in their favor.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.21

    I'm curious about the same thing, why would Bollen and Benda redirect EB-5 investor dollars to Trans Canada, especially when they had made it clear that they had the money for the project. Or do they?
    The most I can conclude is that they were going to scam as many Chinese investors for as much they could and as fast as they could.
    There was a news item yesterday that the White House was considering a petition to deport Justin Beiber, if Joop Bollen isn't an American citizen, maybe we should petition the White House deport him.

  27. Joe 2014.04.21

    The way I understood it was they got a commission or percentage of the money. So if they were able to "loan" 100 million to a pipeline, they get their salary plus a 1/2 of percent and they are happy.

    My guess is they were running out of ideas to finance, they had Asian investors who were willing to give them money, and were trying to find ideas. Maybe Rounds was saying you know if you use this, I can get some tax money returned

  28. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.21

    The Displaced Plainsmen has an interesting thread, he relates the similarity of Goodwin's Law to to the Republicans battle among themselves and as the argument deteriorates one will label the other as a RINO.

    So it goes on Madville, we talk about GOED/EB-5 and somewhere along the line it becomes a debate on abortion.

  29. Bree S. 2014.04.21

    I'm sorry, Roger. I missed where we were debating about abortion in this thread. Could you please point it out to me? Thanks.

  30. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    Jenny, The link does not work. You have to go to:

    Browse down the left side of the page to Mike Rounds' picture.

  31. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.21

    Bree, your question to Roger. The answer can be found in your posts at 18:15, my response at 18:47 and your post at 19:15.

    Bringing abortion into every political and religious conversation that takes place in South Dakota, has been a way to distract voters as well as church goers from other issues when they are being discussed. If you want to talk about abortion go ahead, but please don't (and I am not the marshall of this blog, but I have seen other comments that think the same way that I do on this subject, it is a personal decision. so leave it alone) bring it into every conversation on this blog.

  32. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.21


    What Lanny said at 23:04.

  33. Bree S. 2014.04.22

    Lanny and Roger, those were not debates about abortion. They were a discussion about methods to reduce sex slavery, an extremely important topic. One method suggested to reduce sex slavery is legalizing prostitution. While not a raving fan of prostitution, I would be willing to support legalizing prostitution in the hopes of reducing assaults on children only if abortion is illegal, because I am pro-life. Clearly the debate was not about abortion. It was about sex trafficking and sex slavery.

    Your response makes no sense, Lanny. Why it even mentions religion and "church goers" is unknown to me. We were discussing how to reduce child enslavement and rape and you tell me I'm trying to distract church goers. I'm starting to wonder about this supposed war on women, because what I see is two men telling a woman to shut up about female reproduction, even if the discussion is about saving innocent children from horrific rape.

  34. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.22

    Bree, This will be my last post on this issue. If you go back to the two posts that I cited, you will see that you brought up abortion in both. I did not say that you brought up church goers. I said that typical political and church conversations that bring up abortion distract from the subject at hand, which in this case was sex slavery. I had agreed with you when you brought it up but then your next post you brought abortion into the conversation again. I and probably just about every poster on here is against abortion. But I also am against the government telling a person what they can or cannot do with their own body.

  35. Bree S. 2014.04.22

    I have had the "personally against abortion but don't want to tell someone else what to do debate" plenty of times, and since you have asked, I won't go down that road. The point is not whether or not I "brought up" abortion. The point is that I was not debating abortion. And I have to tell you, I don't take kindly to men telling me what to do. I don't need men to tell me how long to wear my skirts, or when to get married and have kids, and I sure as heck don't need men telling me what topics I can and cannot talk about in regards to my own reproductive processes. So, it's funny that you say you're against "telling a person what they can or cannot do with their own body" because you just did.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.22


    Please point out where I said what you could or could not debate, I simply responded to one of Nick's comments on the subject.

    You have taken a very liberal position on women, you sure you're a Republican?

  37. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.22

    The internet has Goodwin's Law.

    The Displaced Plainsman has the RINO Law.

    Abortion discussion here is now called Madville's Law.

  38. Bree S. 2014.04.22

    Roger Cornelius
    2014.04.21 AT 23:21

    What Lanny said at 23:04.

  39. Bree S. 2014.04.22

    Actually Roger that position on legalizing prostitution is a libertarian position. Although you really couldn't consider me libertarian anymore, I retain some more libertarian thought processes. Whereas I see some social costs that could be deleterious to children on other topics that would be considered libertarian (legalizing marijuana for example) I see a lot of positive social benefits in regards to children from legalizing prostitution (previously mentioned unmentionable requirement must be met) by hopefully reducing the illicit sex slavery trade.

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.04.22

    And come on: we have slam-dunk proof of the venality at work behind EB-5, an issue we can hang around Rounds's and Daugaard's necks that they can't escape or excuse, and y'all get off track with sex trafficking and abortion? There will be plenty of posts where we can hammer away on those issues (and I'll admit, with everything else that has tied itself into EB-5, I will not be surprised if we don't eventually dig up some connection to human trafficking to provide the labor needed for the big EB-5 projects).

  41. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.22

    "Madville's Law." I like that Roger. It's definitely true. Hahahaha!

  42. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.22

    Wow! Is Rounds that short, Bollen that tall, or both?
    Thanks for finding the photo Cory.

  43. Douglas Wiken 2014.04.22

    Canada's rejection of a cross country pipeline may tell us that Canadian politicians might still have some integrity and willingness to look at least slightly beyond current political contributions. XL seems to be a matter of the best bought and paid for hacks supporting foreign destruction of US citizen property rights.

    I heard an interesting comment today. If the atmosphere were compressed to water density, it would be only 30 feet deep. The idea that continued burning of fossil fuels does not impact that is absurd.

  44. Nick Nemec 2014.04.22

    Deb, Rounds is short. My guess is around 5'6".

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