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Tidemann Protects Bollen from Direct Questions

The Government Operations and Audit Committee should be receiving some interesting reading in the coming several days. GOAC chair Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) says that SDRC Inc. exec Joop Bollen has declined to appear before the committee in person but has offered to write answers to questions.

Senator Tidemann says that if Bollen is "willing to provide the answers in writing, that is as good as in person." False:

  1. Taking answers in writing allows Tidemann and Bollen to filter and stall. Tidemann is requiring legislators to submit questions by Friday, September 19. The committee will then "discuss" (i.e., weed out the questions the Republican majority doesn't want asked) those questions at its September 24 and forward the surviving questions to Bollen. We don't know when GOAC will receive or discuss Bollen's responses, since GOAC does not have another meeting on the calendar.
  2. Answers in writing don't allow for immediate follow-up. Bring Bollen in person to Pierre, and an attentive legislator or counsel for the committee could ask for clarification of unclear points, delve deeper into new information, and immediately redirect Bollen if he evades certain points.
  3. We cannot know if written responses are coming from Bollen himself, from his lawyer (Jeff Sveen? Rory King? Harvey Jewett himself?), or from the Rounds for Senate campaign. Only in-person testimony allows truly curious and nimble legislators to get Bollen off whatever script his minders prepare for him and hear directly from the witness.

Committee members composing questions will have written responses from Governor Dennis Daugaard and former governor Mike Rounds in hand to inform their questions:

Tidemann said Gov. Dennis Daugaard and former Gov. Mike Rounds, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, both indicated that by Wednesday they will provide written responses to the committee's questions so its members have a week to review the information before the Sept. 24 meeting [Carson Walker, "Joop Bollen Vows to Give Written Answers on EB-5," AP via that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.09.12].

To further inform their questions, committee members should turn to documents from GOAC's 2008 inquiry into Bollen's activities as director of the South Dakota International Business Institute at Northern State University:

  1. NSU President Patrick Schloss's June 16, 2008, letter to GOAC explaining what SDIBI was doing and where Joop Bollen sat in the chain of command.
  2. NSU interim president Laurie Stenberg Nichols's September 8, 2008, letter telling GOAC that SDIBI activities were creating lots of jobs and economic activities (with attachments listing EB-5 projects and showing growth in exports).
  3. NSU Nichols's October 14, 2008, letter explaining SDIBI's activities and itemizing expenses for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 International Business Conference hosted by SDIBI at Mount Rushmore.
  4. Minutes of December 1, 2008 GOAC meeting (Bollen and Nichols testified the same day as Richard Benda, who assured GOAC there was nothing funny going on with his department's $6.9-million contract with Lawrence & Schiller).

Reviewing these documents may allow committee members to focus on plowing new ground.

Inquiring legislators will also want to review my July 30 list of unanswered issues involving Bollen, Richard Benda, Northern Beef Packers, and the state's exploitation of the EB-5 visa investment program. That information and subsequent revelations should lead to the following crucial questions:

  1. Did you seek a lending license for the loan operations of SDRC Inc. and/or its subsidiary loan funds?
  2. Did you or any of your incorporated entities pay bank franchise tax?
  3. Who authorized the 2008 contract/"memorandum of understanding" between SDIBI (which you directed) and SDRC Inc. (which you owned)?
  4. Explain the genesis of the SDIBI–SDRC Inc. contract:
    1. Who participated in the conception, development, and drafting of that contract?
    2. When did that conception, development, and drafting take place?
    3. Who in state government authorized the conception, development, and drafting, and signing of that contract?
  5. Was the 2008 SDIBI–SDRC Inc. contract essentially a contract between you and yourself?
  6. How much money did privatizing your EB-5 recruitment and management functions divert from the public coffers to SDRC Inc.'s private profit?
  7. When you created SDRC Inc., did any member or employee of the Board of Regents, the Governor's Office of Economic Development, or other state government entity advise you as to whether your creation, ownership, and activities in SDRC Inc. violated Board of Regents policy, state statute, or any other rules or regulations?
  8. When Darley International filed suit to force SDIBI into arbitration in 2008, whom in state government did you notify, and when?
  9. Who in state government authorized you to submit the brief you filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division, on behalf of SDIBI on August 22, 2008?
  10. Who helped you draft that August 22, 2008, brief?

That's just me getting going over breakfast. Numerous follow-up questions would suggest themselves in a face-to-face interview. But since Senator Tidemann insists on shielding one former state employee from hard questions about his on-the-job activities, we'll have to trust in our legislators (well, at least in the two Democrats on the committee) to think through these questions, anticipate the possible answers, and compose an exhaustive list of follow-ups to submit on Friday for Chairman Tidemann's approval.


  1. 96 Tears 2014.09.13

    What a joke! Bollen's attorney will whitewash every word and nuance coming back to the GOAC. That's what attorney's who protect crooks do best. He's doing his job. My question is whose job is Sen. Larry Tidemann doing?

    This is not transparency. It's more cover up and taking the voters of South Dakota for a pack of fools. Tidemann needs to be thrown out of office for accepting such a stupid offer and hoping normal people would accept attorney-sanitized written responses as any kind of substitute for what Tidemann proposed, which was an appearance in person before the GOAC.

  2. 96 Tears 2014.09.13

    Two on the lam: Mike Rounds and Joop Bollen. Both refuse to appear in public answering questions about criminal activities when Rounds was Governor and Bollen was a high ranking state official.

  3. Tim 2014.09.13

    What a joke, somebody needs to call republicans out for this, just another example of Tidemann protecting their candidates and running out the clock. I can't believe voters won't see this exactly for what it is, South Dakota republican politics, disgusting!

  4. Jane Smith 2014.09.13

    Joop Bollen just spit onto the face of the citizens of SD. He believes he is above the law. Also he should be asked prior to 2008 as early as 2000 and prior, how many applicants were processed? What did he do with the $30,000 per application Fees then?

  5. 96 Tears 2014.09.13

    Larry Tidemann just spit onto the faces of South Dakota citizens. I don't blame a crook offering a sucker deal to save his own butt. The committee chairman who took the sucker deal should be tarred and feathered.

  6. mike from iowa 2014.09.13

    I can see it now-wingnuts invite testimony(which will be worthless) and Dems will demand subpoenas and wingnuts will declare double jeopardy for Bollen and give him a free pass from prosecution,just because they can. I'm guessing Jackley has already laid out the game plan to run down the clock to prevent Dems and citizens from ever finding out the truth.

  7. 96 Tears 2014.09.13

    Dick Wadhams, SDGOP captain, is channeling Patches O'Houlihan: "If you're going to become true dodgeballers, then you've got to learn the five d's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!"

    If any survival instinct exists in Democrats, they need to keep tossing wrenches.

  8. Jim 2014.09.13

    So who put together the questions for mike and Dennis that are to be answered by wed?

    None of them can risk answering questions spontaneously because they wouldn't be able to keep their stories straight.

    Here's a couple of suggestions: tell to to produce all SDIBI-SDRC records in his possession and identify which records were used in preparing his answers.

    Ask him to identify all SDIBI-SDRC that have been destroyed or otherwise are not in his possession and under what authority were those records destroyed or otherwise transferred.

    Ask him if he or his agents have had any contact with anyone associated with the rounds campaign or daugaard administration regarding his answering these questions or other questions regarding sdrc activities. When were those contacts, where and with whom, and describe the details of those contacts.

    Did you review the responses of mike and Dennis in preparing your answers.

    Identify all persons who assisted in preparing your responses or with whom you have discussed the GOAC request.

    How many jobs were created by EB-5 during you tenure and how many of those jobs no longer exist. (Mike claims 5k jobs "created" but that doesn't mean 5k jobs exist today)

    How much of the 600 million (according to mike) collected through eb-5 was paid in fees or otherwise not directly invested in projects. Breakdown who recieved this money, how much and when, and describe the basis for these disbursements.

    Identify all bank or investmet accounts in your name, or the name of another individual or entity in which you have an interest.

    Did you or anyone on behalf of SDRC, have any communications with the sd banking commission or their agents regarding the lending status of Epoch Star.

    These are just a few thought on some questions that might help spread some light on this mess. Oh, and how much did you pay for that Egyptian artifact you donated to you alma mater. That one is out of my own curiosity.

    These questions need to be very carefully drafted, or Joop and sveen will tap dance around them. If tiedemann gives them a bunch of fluffy softballs, he is in on the fix.

    I can hear a few of them now: was mike rounds a great governor or the greatest governor of sd (credit colbert for this type of probing question). Or maybe, how can we better recognize your great service and contributions to the economy of South Dakota?

    Don't expect any responses prior to 11/4.

  9. Tim 2014.09.13

    96, it would appear that republicans think SD citizens are the true suckers, I just looked in the mirror and I don't have sucker stamped on my forehead. A lot of voters in this state will be suckers if they don't call Tidemann and the republican state "leaders" out on this. Another disturbing fact is the local MSM, crickets from them, bought and paid for media I guess.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.09.13

    Why is Mr. Bollen getting the same deference as our Governor and former governor? Can anybody called before legislative inquiry just mail their answers in from now on? Is that the new protocol?

  11. Jane Smith 2014.09.13

    Payments made under the table is legit in SD! Just toss some crumb to the jokers, and laugh to the bank. There is no double jeopardy, he has not been prosecuted. He has broken so many different laws at a state and federal level, yet all that is being done is to be invited to answer question that may incriminate himself. Citizens from all parties should be insulted by this. In fact Republicans should be more insulted then the Dems. When people you vote for and place into office allow this type of fraud right in front of your face, it is insulting.

  12. Jane Smith 2014.09.13

    Bill, it is obvious that the legislature is so weak that they are not taken seriously. They should stop this comedy club and subpoena instead. If you remember Tidemanns response in July, he pretty much exposed that it was already decided that they are going to cover this up. Ignore the peoples voice, and let everyone keep their loot.

  13. Jane Smith 2014.09.13

    This was a Ponzi scheme. Let's call it what it was/is. James Park and Joop Bollen promises 15% return on $500,000 investment plus the Green Card. SD was supposed to get profitable companies established to generate tax revenue and jobs. Of the initial $50k a Min $30k go to the Regional Center (aka Joop Bollen), $20k to Law firm. All fees for the ICE application excluded. But as the money involved grew bigger so did the greed. And the complex web of pillaging began. For frm Gov Rounds to claim that this is a fed program, is true, however he left out that this was a fed program to benefit the state and local economy. And he must have been well informed. His name and position was key to selling this overseas. However, due to really greedy and audacious people it failed. In the end some greedy people got rich, tax payers lost millions of revenue and the investors who thought they could buy their way into this country got swindled. AKA Ponzi scheme.

  14. bearcreekbat 2014.09.13

    While I agree that written answers to soft ball questions might seem like nothing of value, there is another aspect to consider - namely, no statements written or otherwise. I am surprised that Joop's attorney will permit him to even provide written statements rather than than simply assert his 5th Amendment right to remain silent. And the exercise of the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination should be a defense to any prosecution under SDCL 2-6-6.

    And if objective evidence supports criminal activity, I don't think purportedly exculpatory written statements would ever slow down a determined prosecutor. Any portion of such statements would only be admissible in a criminal trial if used against, rather than on behalf of, Joop.

    Subpoenaing Joop, and then having him assert his 5th Amendment right to remain silent seems to accomplish very little. Indeed, in a criminal trial a defendant's assertion of his or her 5th Amendment right to remain silent cannot even be used as inculpatory evidence.

    And if Joop makes written statements that later turn out to be false, this could be used against him in a prosecution and might even constitute a new independent crime under SDCL 22-29-1, if the statement is sworn or under oath and if the statute is construed to include legislative committee hearings.

  15. Tim 2014.09.13

    bear, you might want to wait and see what the questions are before getting behind Tidemanns approach. When Tidemann doesn't allow democrat questions and republican questions amount to little more than asking how the weather is, getting them to plead the 5th might be more effective with SD voters.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.13

    Where's Rounds' apologist in chief Troy Jones when you need him?

  17. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.13

    Bollen's attorney is playing a risky game with the written questions.
    I refer occasionally to the Watergate scandal because it shows how stonewalling and cover ups unfold. If an attorney takes a active role in answering questions of a defendant and the answers can be proven to be a lie, the attorney maybe complicit in perjury and the obstruction of justice. There were more than one attorney that went to prison for doing just that during the Watergate scandal.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.13

    Jim, I agree that these questions need to be very carefully drafted, with a keen eye toward every angle of semantics and evasion Bollen and Sveen might try. Wismer and Lucas should include yours in their pile.

    Bear, I agree, something from Bollen in writing is better than nothing. But as Tim warns, we need to see serious questions. It could be that Bollen's lawyer said he could deign to answer written questions because they've negotiated with Tidemann via the GOP leadership to filter the questions according to the new stonewall Gosch and Brown bricked up this week when they refused to add Tyler's agenda item, claiming that the Legislature cannot investigate matters that "The legislature has no right to conduct an investigation for the purpose of laying a foundation for the institution of criminal proceedings, for the aid and benefit of grand juries in planning indictments, for the purpose of intentionally injuying such persons or for any other ulterior purpose" (Mason's Manual, Rule 797, Section 1).

  19. bearcreekbat 2014.09.13

    Tim and Cory, I am not getting behind Tidemann's approach as I would much rather have Joop answer questions in person and under oath. And I anticipate relatively softball questions. I'm just saying that Joop's agreement to answer any questions in writing could well backfire on him.

    As for the effect on voters if Joop asserts the 5th Amendment, Tim might be right. I find it troublesome, however, that anyone would find wrongdoing simply because of the exercise of the right to remain silent.

    An individual's statements can often be used out of context, or can be misunderstood. Any lawyer worth his or her salt knows that a jury might convict an innocent person based upon some dumb or misunderstood statement of that person. The exercise of one's 5th Amendment right does not depend on guilt or innocence, and it is unfortunate that voters or anyone else might conclude otherwise.

  20. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.13

    Are there any situations or conditions where a witness or defendant cannot take the 5th?

  21. bearcreekbat 2014.09.13

    Roger, if a witness is granted immunity from prosecution then he or she can be required to answer questions under threat of jail for contempt if he or she refuses.

    Here is a description of some of the limits of the protection:

  22. Tim 2014.09.13

    Bear, as a voter I would have to wonder, if you did nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, why plead the 5th? We all know the republicans won't let it get to that point, they will save his ass one way or the other, they have to, some of their political lives may depend on it.

  23. Tim 2014.09.13

    "The legislature has no right to conduct an investigation for the purpose of laying a foundation for the institution of criminal proceedings, for the aid and benefit of grand juries in planning indictments, for the purpose of intentionally injuring such persons or for any other ulterior purpose"

    Cory, can you translate this for me? I read it as saying the legislature refuses to incriminate itself in any proceedings, even when the Governor directed a legislative committee to investigate and gave them subpoena powers? Or am I missing something?

  24. Jim 2014.09.13

    As for mason's rules, which are not statute, nothing has been suggested that the request to appear if for the purpose of laying the foundation for a criminal investigation. It is simply for the disclosure of information on how great and effective the eb-5 program was under mike and Joop's leadership. If the witnesses implicated themselves through their testimony, that is not the committee's fault.

    Joop, also please tell us at what point anyone with the state was made aware that you were SDRC. Also, when and how did you develop your fee structure, and who contributed or had knowledge of that process. Thanks in advance Joop.

  25. Bill Fleming 2014.09.13

    Seems like the question-asking phase could be fairly transparent, at least on the Dem side. Copies of the Q's submitted could be kept on file and made public if the salient ones somehow don't make the cut when presented to Mr. Bollen. It would become fairly obvious if someone was trying to hide or soft peddle the questioning process. Is there any reason a process like that wouldn't be "kosher?"

  26. Jana 2014.09.13

    Get each and every member of GOAC to go on the record with what questions they are submitting.

    For every Democratic candidate running, apply the pressure now in going after your opponent on what questions they have for Joop....just don't be surprised if it's something like "Was your benefactor Mike Rounds a great governor or greatest governor ever?"

    Dem candidates, ask your GOP opponent if they are running so they can go to Pierre and be a rubber stamp for the GOP and ALEC or if they are going to represent the people of their district so this crap doesn't happen again.

    To Cronin, Curd, Dryden, Heineman, Hunhoff, Lucas, Magstadt, Mickelson, Tiedeman and Wismer:

    Leadership takes courage, I hope you have some. We all await your questions and insistence that Joop return his answers within 1 week of receiving them.

    Lucas and Wismer...please be the eyes, ears and voice of the people!

  27. larry kurtz 2014.09.13

    Every one of the players have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury so appearing before a perfunctory legislative body to answer questions is forbidden by law.

  28. larry kurtz 2014.09.13

    Everyone has been, rather. Sorry group, GOAC will not hear any testimony on Bendagate.

  29. moses 2014.09.13

    Larry had a chance just another mouth piece for the boys.

  30. Rorschach 2014.09.13

    How much did the Joopster/SDRC, Inc./Hanul Law Firm/lawyers for any of the aforementioned pay Mike Rounds since he left office?

  31. Dave 2014.09.13

    How transparent will GOAC be? Will we South Dakotans eventually be able to read the questions, and the answers supplied by Joop?

  32. JeniW 2014.09.13

    Most likely Joop's attorney will be guiding him with every word he writes, will review it with a fine tooth comb, censor and send back for revisions.

    GOAC will be as transparent as the lawyers, Rounds, and Daugaard allows it to be. Even then there will be questions about the forthright the responses will be.

  33. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.13

    There as absolutely no reason to believe that Tidemann and company will pursue a line of questioning that will reveal substantive information, why should he even bother asking?
    GOAC will go into executive session with Marty Jackley and we won't hear anymore from them. GOAC wants to make themselves useless
    It is difficult to figure out if the Republicans are covering for their party's integrity, if they had any, or if they are working to cover a money trail that leads to everyone involved.
    Regardless of how the 5th Amendment should be perceived or used, it always implies guilt, inside a court and out. It is just like "innocent until proven guilty", that may apply in a courtroom, but does not apply to public opinion.

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