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Not Breaking: KELO Recycles Prior Scoops in EB-5 Coverage

You want to talk about recycling old news? Forget Pat Powers's blogular burpage trying to distract us from a new and important piece of the Rounds Administration's facilitation of Joop Bollen's rule-breaking exploitation of the public trust. Let's look at KELO TV's late-to-the-party coverage of EB-5.

Tonight KELO reporter Ben Dunsmoor whoop-dee-hoos "his" discovery of a letter from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that he asserts may have led to the federal investigation of South Dakota's use of the EB-5 investment program. "His" discovery results from a review of over 700 pages KELO received from a FOIA request this summer.

700 pages, and all KELO can find is recyclage of a story Bob Mercer broke with much deeper context ten months ago:

[Texas lawyer Kirby] Roberts said in an interview Wednesday that he contacted the office of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in late 2012 with the same information he had given to the FBI.

Roberts said he did so because it appeared to him that the FBI investigation had paused or stopped in its investigation and wasn’t looking at the Huron plant.

Shortly after receiving Roberts’ information, Grassley’s office sent a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Feb. 7, 2013, regarding “an EB-5 Regional Investment Center in South Dakota.” The only Regional Investment Center was the South Dakota Regional Center based in Aberdeen.

Grassley included a letter from another person with his letter. That second letter hasn’t been publicly released by Grassley’s office. The public copy of the Grassley letter has that person’s name blacked out three times.

Grassley’s letter told USCIS: “(Blacked out) has outlined possible violations associated with the EB-5 program. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide pertaining to this matter. Please contact (blacked out) with questions regarding this letter” [Bob Mercer, "FBI Probe of Meat Plants Evolved from Church Dispute," Rapid City Journal, 2013.11.15].

Mercer was tracing the evolution of the federal investigations from Roberts's investigation of matters pertaining to the Hutterville Hutterite dispute and connections to the Dakota Provisions turkey processing plant in Huron. KELO reports none of that fascinating angle of the story. Dunsmoor only spices the story with mention of Senator Grassley's political affiliation with South Dakota's sagging Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds, an angle already spotlighted on this blog since November 1, 2013 (see here, here, and here).

Dunsmoor committed similar rescoopage on August 18 when KELO ran his story on the exclusive no-bid contract Rounds's economic development office handed to Joop Bollen the day after Bollen quit his state job at NSU. Dunsmoor's story addressed the same details I reported on December 12, 2013. The only value Dunsmoor added to my reporting was getting Rounds spokesman Rob Skjonsberg to trot out the claim that EB-5 added over $600 million to South Dakota's economy... which seems about as reliable as Rounds's claim that he'd raise $9 million for his Senate campaign.

By no means should KELO ignore the EB-5 story just because Bob Mercer or I or other reporters discover and explain certain details of it first. It is an important and complicated story, and as many reporters as possible should be telling as many South Dakotans as possible about it. But there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Had KELO paid better attention, they wouldn't be playing catch-up ten months later.


  1. 96 Tears 2014.09.10

    I'm curious about what prevents a prosecutor from doing his job in a way that it influences an election. Is this based in law, written policy (which can change with the whim of the person in charge of the prosecutor) or just tradition, which is not binding?

    Is there a specific law that binds a federal prosecutor in this way?

    Is there a specific law that binds a non-federal prosecutor in this way in the State of South Dakota?

    If Joop Bollen's name is not on the ballot, why would not the Attorney General arrest him now?

  2. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Okay, now I'm really confused, or more confused than usual. Powers is reporting on his dump site that Democrats hastily and breathlessly called a press conference today, Sept.10, to reveal the lawsuit where Bollen represented the state, calling it old news from newspaper clippings.

    What Democrats called this press conference and where was it held? I've looking at various sites that might cover this news but can't seem to find it.

  3. Jeff Barth 2014.09.10

    It was at Ronning Branch Library in Sioux Falls at 1:00PM.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    96 Tears,
    Powers has been taunting Brendan Johnson all day about not revealing the results of his investigation and accusing him of stonewalling. Wadhams in turn is claiming that Johnson is giving investigative materials to Democrats.
    Now, what Wadhams, Powers, and Rounds' say if Johnson revealed his investigation and issued arrest warrants for Rounds before the November election. I can already envision Wadhams press release accusing Johnson of playing partisan politics.
    On the other hand, I wouldn't blame Brendan if he said "up yours" to the Republicans and released everything he has.
    You're right about Bollen, there shouldn't be anything to preempt his arrest, unless it is timing or he faces the same charges as Rounds and others.

  5. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Who held the press conference, Crago?

  6. Jeff Barth 2014.09.10

    I wonder if the Grand Jury investigations of Benda can be released now that he is dead and the investigation is over. Were there any Grand Jury hearings? What were the dates of those meetings? Did they meet before Benda died? Where are the DCI transcripts? Who was called as a witness? Whatever reason could they have had to indict him?

  7. jerry 2014.09.10

    Exactly 96 Tears, why is Joop Bollen off limits is a very good question. The answer could be that Marty Jackley already knows of his guilt in this whole scheme and knows full well that the entire political power structure of the State of South Dakota is involved in it as well. How does he know all of that, he is a part of it and knows it up close and personal.

    Johnson needs to step up and open the ledger on this fraudulent mixed bag of corruption and do his job as it is clear that this corruption has overtaken the state completely. The FBI has laid the groundwork, he needs to finish the job as it is really a federal case as it has always been. When you have a few hundred Chinese nationals along with dozens of Korean nationals that have been brought in on a fraudulent shell game that is international with off shore banking being brought in to perpetuate the whole matter, it certainly is bigger than a circuit court can handle. Time for Johnson to bring in Bollen to get to the bottom of this fetid mess so we can recover our taxpayer funds that have been fraudulently taken.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    KELO was wrong to present this story as some sort of breaking news, I fell for it because I didn't immediately remember it. Thanks for bringing me around Cory. How many others were deceived by this report. If they wanted to replay it, they should have said that it was previously reported.
    Mistakes will be made in reporting this story, but there are so many twist and turns in Rounds' scandal it has to be reported accurately and without any intentional distortions.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Jerry and 96 Tears,

    What do you think the SDGOP and Pat Powers are attempting to accomplish by twisting Brendan Johnson's arm on revealing what he knows?
    I smell a rat, a big damn rat in their demands.

  10. jerry 2014.09.10

    Roger, why is tasking Johnson to do his job arm twisting? It is clear that the attorney general Jackley will not do his job regarding Bollen. When the state fails, it is up to the Fed to provide the law enforcement that is needed. Bollen is not running for any office in this state and yet he has clearly broken laws that would put you or me in the jail. Why is he so damn special? The SDGOP has clearly indicated that this is not a political issue and are demanding the results, Johnson could and should oblige. Maybe the SDGOP is like the rest of us and wants to know where the hell the taxpayer money is. The rat you smell is the entire state being consumed with corruption.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Do you trust Dick Wadhams?
    I'm with you and everybody else, including the SDGOP, in wanting to know what Johnson knows about the whole scandal.
    Wadhams has ulterior motives in twisting Brendan's arm, what is it? That is what I'm trying to figure out Jerry.

  12. jerry 2014.09.10

    Roger, this is not about trust. Dick Wadhams is nothing more than a bag man for big money interests. My trust goes with the law and I see the law being bent here to allow Joop Bollen the freedom to wander about when we all know he has repeatedly broken the law. When I see the attorney general suddenly look the other way in the face of this corruption, it causes me to pause. It is clear that the attorney general has not and will not go after Bollen to bring him to justice. When that happens, there must be a power greater than the attorney general and that is Johnson. Why isn't he going after this lawbreaker?

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    As Dave pointed out on his link to KSFY, it appears that Johnson has an active case against Bollen.
    Marty Jackley needs to arrest and charge Bollen for the misdemeanors pointed out by Cory, but remember that Jackley closed his investigation.
    The SDGOP never made any demands of Jackley to reveal his findings on the GOED investigation. Why are they demanding that Johnson release his?
    Wadhams wants to make EB-5 as political as possible.
    Wadhams is hoping the Johnson investigation stops with Bollen and Rounds can sail into the senate in November.
    It is about trust Jerry, it is about trusting Dick Wadhams motives.

  14. 96 Tears 2014.09.10

    All I was asking earlier was where in law, specifically, or in policy or in tradition is it mandated that a prosecutor "is strictly forbidden from taking any actions at all that might influence an election." That statement was made by SDDP attorney Pat Duffy a couple weeks ago about Brendan Johnson, specifically. He made no reference to Marty Jackley in that statement. So I am asking if anyone knows the citation stating this prohibition in federal law and in state law. I'm wondering if the prohibition applies to both or either levels of jurisdiction.

    As to Dickwad Hams and PP, they are desperate and they're rattling any cage that makes them think they can get the focus on Mike Rounds' criminal administration. If you're listening to them, you're lost.

  15. 96 Tears 2014.09.10

    Sorry, I mean "off of Mike Rounds' criminal administration."

  16. jerry 2014.09.10

    No matter how this is sliced and diced it will always be political because it involves politicians and those appointed by the politicians. It is a criminal enterprise that is composed of racketeer politicians and their underlings. think Sopranos with a Dutch accent. This racketeering involved international laws that were circumvented to avoid paying taxes with the full knowledge of the bosses, whoever those may be. If Johnson is after Bollen, as indicated, he should stand and deliver. Joop Bollen's shelf life on the street has long since expired, it is time for him to be arrested and charged.

    Regarding trusting Dick Wadhams, I disagree. He is the bagman and you only trust the bagman when they are afraid of you.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    Jeff, Jackley said he scheduled a grand jury to consider charges against Benda on October 28, 2013. That grand jury never convened, since Benda died on October 20, 2013.

    We have yet to be given any details on what the federal grand jury has discussed, beyond the existence of eight subpoenas and the focus of one of those subpoenas on Benda's travel activities.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    Remember how Powers kept pining for a Johnson Senate candidacy months after Johnson said he was out and Weiland said he was in? It's as if he and Wadhams and Rounds prepared all this material against Johnson and are still trying to find a way to use by dragging Johnson into the campaign instead of having to go against Rick Weiland, who is beating them up and against whom they don't have nearly as much good campaign attacks.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    Let's not forget, it is possible that Johnson has not indicted Bollen because he cannot find sufficient evidence that Bollen broke any federal laws.

  20. jerry 2014.09.11

    That is true Cory about federal laws being proven broken, but also it is true that the alleged perpetrators have state protection much like organized crime dealing with the crime bosses themselves. In that regard, the RICO act could be used as the way to get to the bottom or the top of the fraud, money laundering, securities violations that could explain where taxpayer millions disappeared. As it has been laid out again and again, there seems to be more than enough probable cause to put the Dutchman in the perp walk.

  21. 96 Tears 2014.09.11

    I found an answer to my questions involving the conduct of federal investigators like Brendan Johnson compared to those bound by state laws, like Marty Jackley. Johnson’s boss, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, is pretty specific in this memo dated March 12, 2012:

    “Simply put, politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose is inconsistent with the Department's mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution.”

    Read the entire document here:

    State Attorney General Marty Jackley claims to be bound by a similar prohibition, but there is no such state law. If the prohibition exists as policy, it’s one that the AG himself creates and controls. If the policy really does exist, Jackley has been loose in its administration.

    Back to Dickwad Hams and PP railing about Brendan Johnson. Again, they are desperate. They are clawing, howling and scratching to save their failing ticket.

    Their U.S. Senate candidate is now bleeding badly having been caught as the slot man in his deeply corrupt gubernatorial administration. The bleeding is spreading to his hand-picked successor, Dennis Daugaard, and the one-party legislature which helped to prevent a forensic audit of Joop Bollen’s operation, as requested last year by Rep. Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City, and to prevent access to related information by the public and the press.

    Of course they’ll howl at Brendan Johnson because they know Johnson will not violate his order from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The gimmick won’t work, just like their completely phony claim that Rounds’ EB-5 Scam generated 5,000 jobs in South Dakota.

  22. Bill Fleming 2014.09.11

    96T, good find. Now we can all get on the same page about Johnson. He's not going to talk and we shouldn't be expecting him to. Any political case to be made on Rounds's EB-5 history will have to be made some other way. It does perhaps explain a little better why Brendan didn't run. It would be tough to have something on your opponent and not be able to talk about it one way or the other. He would be in a pickle any way he played it. Even his silence could be spun into something negative against him. Catch 22.

  23. jerry 2014.09.11

    Very good post 96 Tears that explains a lot of why the delays. I wonder how big money contributors to Rounds, like Stan Adelstein are going to face the people of South Dakota. How are they going to be able to look folks in the eye and act like the fraud, theft and outright corruption, is not such a bad thing?

  24. mike from iowa 2014.09.11

    In case anyone(like me) missed this,Eric holder was assigned to prosecute a well known Dem,but one who was not overly involved in the Abscam case. The person he was assigned,died before the trial and was not really a part of the scam.

    In the earlier Koreagate scandal where a bunch of Dem pols were charged with illegally helping Koreans,both Rep and Dems agreed the whole scam was a bid by incumbent Jerry Ford to bolster his re-election chances against Carter by using the FBI for a sting.

  25. mike from iowa 2014.09.11

    Adelstein is like the koch bros. They aren't sweating state prosecutions. They have the money and legal teams to tie state's courts up forever until they get favorable decisions. See Exxon Valdez settlement in Alaska,koch bros v Chicago over storage of petcoke.

  26. Jana 2014.09.11

    Good job 96T! And good point on Tyler being blocked from a forensic audit of EB-5 last year by the one party lap dogs.

    Hopefully every Dem candidate for legislature this year will push to get their opponent on the record about the EB-5/Northern Beef scandal.

    Make this poop flow down hill!!!

  27. bearcreekbat 2014.09.11

    As I read your quote from Holder, 96T, it would be just as wrong to delay an investigation and prosecution due to an upcoming election as it would be to initiate such activities because of an upcoming election. Thus, this policy does not seem to justify Johnson's office in any delay in the investigation or prosecution of wrongdoing, regardless of the political implications.

  28. Bill Fleming 2014.09.11

    Fair point, BCB. I think the operative language is: "for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party."

    Both sides stand to be either advantaged or disadvantaged by any information about an investigation at this time. I believe Johnson went so far as to say that he cannot either "confirm or deny" that there even IS an investigation going on. That strikes me as being consistent with Holder's policy, especially considering that Brandon is Tim Johnson's son and was thought to be possible considering a run for Senate seat himself. I take his silence on the matter as avoiding any appearance of political impropriety, especially if he really is conducting an investigation and wants someday to win the case. But also, he would surely advantage Rounds if indeed he was finding there was nothing to prosecute. In short, anything he would say could be construed as giving a political advantage or a disadvantage to somebody.

  29. bearcreekbat 2014.09.11

    Bill, I think you are exactly right - no matter what Johnson does, someone could accuse him of trying to affect the election. This fact, however, really changes nothing. If the investigation supports the filing of charges and convening of a grand jury, Johnson should move forward and file them now.

    On the other hand, if his office has concluded the evidence exonerates Rounds, the only fair thing for him to do is respond to inquiries that the investigation has ended and there is no basis to file charges. That likely won't happen because in most criminal investigations, authorities tend to continue to investigate until they have enough to charge the target. This means the investigation is never really over.

    Nevertheless, no matter how much we would like to see Rick win, it should be a win based on the truth rather than a "swift boat" victory.

  30. 96 Tears 2014.09.11

    Bill Fleming is correct. If the District Attorney was not Sen. Tim Johnson's son in this open-seat election for Tim's Senate position, the circumstances and the weight of the District Attorney's political influence would be somewhat different. However, I don't believe anyone else in Brendan's position would act differently and disobey the U.S. Attorney General's directive to all Justice Department employees.

    Brendan's taking the safe position of neither confirming nor denying an investigation. There is no emergency or threat to the public involved in this case. As long as Brendan does not leave the safe zone until after Nov. 4, he can do no harm to the election.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.11

    On the KSFY website there is an article that says Brendan gave the Bollen self-contract to both the Republicans and Democrats, there makes it appear that there is an ongoing investigation of at least Bollen.
    Could also be that Brendan also knew that his involvement in the EB-5 investigation would be perceived as too political and recused himself and turning the investigation over to someone else in the Justice Department?

  32. jerry 2014.09.11

    So then, all is well and we shall wait and see what November 5th will bring. Maybe at that time, we will find out why there were US Marshall's investigating Benda's death as Larry says. That could be explained by saying they were just looking for probable cause to put in a goose pit around the flyway. As always, regarding South Dakota republican political leaders, nothing to see here folks,... squirrel.

  33. Don Frankenfeld 2014.09.11

    I have a lot of respect for Brendan Johnson, and don't question his motives or his integrity. However, one can interpret Holder's "declaration of non-politics" in a way exactly the opposite from the 96 Tears-Fleming view. As I read it, saying "politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges," means among other things that if a politician is suspected of wrongdoing, he/she should be treated exactly like a non-politician. If an indictment or an investigation is warranted, it should occur. Putting it on hold means politics is certainly playing a role, although the role is in giving the politician a temporary pass that would be denied to a non-politician. The Holder statement is motivated, of course, by the shameful mistreatment of an Alaska Senator by an overzealous prosecutor a few years ago, which ultimately cost the Senator his job and the prosecutor his license. I don't fault Brendan Johnson for moving cautiously (or ultimately not moving at all if the facts don't support criminal charges) but nothing in Holder's statement requires it.

  34. Bill Fleming 2014.09.11

    Not to argue with you, Don, because you know how I hate doing that, but it seems to me that "being political" is an a priori, existential condition of having to consider Holder's directive in the first place.

    The true meaning of the instruction lies in whether or not Johnson's action could affect the outcome of the election, not whether or not there are politics involved. Of course there are.

  35. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.11

    What would happen if candidate Rounds' was a suspect in a murder investigation during the campaign?

  36. jerry 2014.09.11

    How do we know he is not Roger? Where is the paperwork on Benda?

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    What Don and BCB are saying reminds of what I was thinking when Jackley stretched this Holderian thinking into his excuse for not acting on Bosworth's petition shenanigans until she was off the ballot: Holder is saying politics should play no role in prosecutorial decisions, which means prosecutors should not treat candidates as a special protected class. Prosecutors should be blind to the election calendar, just as the Sioux Falls police were blind to Emmett Reistroffer's status as a candidate when they arrested him this week. Delaying charges just because a suspect is on a ballot is as improperly politically motivated as expediting an investigation to ensure that an indictment happens before Election Day.

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    Careful, Roger: you're geting sucked into Dick Wadhams's deflective lies. No one in the KSFY report you cite or anywhere else has shown that Brendan Johnson gave any documents to anyone. I'm pretty sure neither Kathy Tyler nor anyone else got the Joop–Joop contract from Brendan Johnson. She didn't need to; it's been sitting on my blog since March.

  39. 96 Tears 2014.09.11

    Funny, but everything Wadhams and his sycophants have done in overreaction has made Rounds and the gang look more guilty. I say, keep talking, Dick!!!

  40. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.11

    Bite your tongue, you don't really think Wadhams could influence me or drag me anywhere, do you?

    I was referring to the very last sentence in the KSFY report, that says Johnson gave both Democrats and Republicans the information on Benda's illegal self-contract.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    I don't think that last sentence says that, Roger:

    KSFY spoke with Brendan Johnson Monday, who confirmed he did discuss EB-5 with Tyler; however, Johnson says he spoke with both democrats and republicans about the issue and gave both parties the same information. Johnson tells KSFY he can neither confirm nor deny an official EB-5 investigation in his office [Bridget Bennett, "New Documents Revealed in the Highly Politicized EB-5 Case,", 2014.09.08].

    Nothing there says Johnson handed anyone any documents. The "same information" may have been exactly what Rep. Tyler said it was: nothing. There is no evidence ot the contrary.

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.11

    96 is dead on: everything Team Wadhams has said has made Rounds et al. look more guilty, because nothing Aany Republican has said this week has refuted the meat and potatoes of the math Kathy Tyler offered Monday, the charges Zach Crago laid out yesterday, or the facts that I have reported on these issues and especially on the multiple violations of Regental policy and state law by Joop Bollen and the rewards heaped upon him following those errors by Mike Rounds.

  43. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.11

    My sticking point is the use of "information" vs documents, if that is the case, you are correct Cory. I'm surprised the reporter didn't ask that.
    Maybe Wadhams will tell us what information Johnson gave the Republicans regarding the self-contract.

  44. jerry 2014.09.11

    Geesh Cory, you have all the goods all packaged up very nicely. All one of those prosecutors would have to do is cut and paste if they were serious about justice. But of course, we don't want anyone to be mean to anyone else, because we don't want to offend the little Napoleon that might get a bitter beer face. Even Chad Haber could try this thing and win with all the goods you have collected.

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.12

    Jerry, Chad can't even spell EB-5.

  46. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.12

    Roger, that's an interesting suggestion. Johnson says he has given the same information to Democrats and to Republicans. Rep. Tyler has told us that that information consists of "nothing." Dick Wadhams hasn't told us anything about the information his party has received, but he accuses Tyler of having received a lot. Why doesn't Wadhams tell us what Johnson has told his party?

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