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The Ellis Exchange: Brendan for Bollen?

Jonathan Ellis doesn't see a knockout, he says Democrats are landing body blows on Mike Rounds with the EB-5 issue. The Sioux Falls columnist also proposes a novel quid pro quo for one of the "you're stonewalling—no, you're stonewalling!" angles of this complicated story:

Republicans on a legislative committee that supposedly is investigating the issue haven’t done much to inspire confidence. Rather than call in the guy who ran the program — Joop Bollen of Aberdeen — you’d think they were more obsessed over whether commas were used appropriately in the audit reports of EB-5.

...Republicans argue that Brendan Johnson could clear all of this up by publicly saying if there’s an ongoing investigation. Johnson refuses, arguing he can’t confirm or deny, the standard hideout used by law enforcement authorities to withhold information from the public.

If it’s true that U.S. attorneys can’t confirm or deny investigations, then I’ll look forward to the removal of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, whose office last week confirmed that it continues to investigate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the “Bridgegate” incident.

Maybe the two sides should make a deal. In exchange for Republicans subpoenaing Joop Bollen to testify, Johnson could acknowledge if there’s an investigation.

Problem solved [Jonathan Ellis, "EB-5 Offers Democrats New Campaign Ax to Grind," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.09.21].

Ellis mistakenly equates U.S. Attorney Johnson's conscientious protection of the integrity of his office with the political stonewalling of Republican legislative leaders who may be in deeper doo-doo than they were ready for. But if the New Jersey comparison is valid, then I say fine. I'll happily trade bringing U.S. Atorney Johnson to the mic to utter one sentence for sitting Joop Bollen down before the cameras to spend a morning telling the public about his activities as a state employee carrying out Mike Rounds's economic development plans.


  1. jerry 2014.09.21

    The New Jersey comparison is spot on. Brian Williams, the news reader for NBC, opened that can of worms and good for Fishman, he confirmed that the loud mouth from Joisey is still being investigated. There is really no reason whatsoever why Johnson cannot come out and say what is happening, if there is something happening. Fishman is cut from the same cloth as Johnson and to add ever further, Christie is looking for the big rung at the White House. That has huge implications more so than our little twerp here. Come on out Brendan Johnson, show us you have the balls to represent the state in the federal system you get paid to do. Don't be worried about what may or may not have happened to Benda. Dust off the RICO standard book then stand and deliver.

  2. 96Tears 2014.09.21

    Facts don't mean so much to the Argus scribes as much as helping the SDGOP continue their narrative about the Rounds coronation. Ellis must not be reading anything other than Mitch Krebs' press releases ... not even David Montgomery's articles which is where I found the directive from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (linked to the Washington Post article Monty was using as background).

    Since he declared his candidacy, Ellis has worked diligently to marginalize the Weiland candidacy every step of the way, outdone only by PP in spinning the Rounds line to the point of ridiculous.

  3. jerry 2014.09.21

    You are correct 96 Tears on the link with Holder and his directive. That said, what about Fishman? He surely must have read the same directive that his boss put out, why is this one different? Both of these South Dakota republican candidates have one thing in common, corruption. Ellis can sing in the choir for Rounds and Daugaard, that is the way it is. This does not change the fact that in New Jersey, with almost a mirror of corruption along with abuse of power that we have here, we have Fishman who openly declares that Christie is being investigated. Why do we have something else here when we know that millions disappeared under a ponzi type scheme that enriched Bollen along with Rounds and Daugaard and their minions. This makes little sense when it is so blatant. Fishman disregarded politics to get to the real heart of the matter, justice. This is not a matter of republican or democrat, this is a matter of the theft of taxpayer dollars. Should not we expect justice for the recovery of our treasure along with the punishment of those that defrauded us?

  4. owen reitzel 2014.09.21

    ".Republicans argue that Brendan Johnson could clear all of this up by publicly saying if there’s an ongoing investigation"

    Maybe the Republicans could clear all of this up by testifying under oath? Now there is a novel idea.

  5. 96Tears 2014.09.21

    Owen, that makes too much sense. Must be why Ellis couldn't figure it out.

  6. Rorschach 2014.09.21

    Maybe in exchange for us putting up with his dog and pony show, Sen. Tidemann could acknowledge he's not really investigating.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.09.21


    "NBC's New York affiliate had reported Thursday that federal investigations had "thus far uncovered no evidence" showing that Christie knew about or ordered the George Washington Bridge closures in September 2013 that have become known as BridgeGate.

    A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman, who is overseeing the investigation, confirmed to the Park Press that “the investigation is continuing" and no final determinations have been made regarding criminal charges."

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.21

    I know that this doesn't completely answer the distinction between the feds announcing an investigation in New Jersey and not in South Dakota, but perhaps there is a difference between Christie being a sitting governor and Mike Rounds being a candidate.

    Does the Marty's "political immunity" apply here?

  9. owen reitzel 2014.09.21

    thanks 96. If it was me I'd be begging to be put under oath if I was innocent.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.09.21

    Seems to me Brendan Johnson has every reason to err on the side of caution. 1. Rounds is running for his father's long-held Senate seat. 2. Brendan himself was once rumored to be considering running for the same seat. 3. Johnson has already taken a lot of flack about possible nepotism in gaining his current position. 4. Johnson is a Democrat in a deeply Republican state. When it comes to following the Holder directive, I really don't think there are that many political parallels with the Christie situation.

  11. Sid 2014.09.21

    Mr. Fleming is correct. There is no immediate election coming up involving Christie. Also, the investigation protocols are different when a sitting governor is being investigated rather than a former (albeit senate candidate) governor. Also, Brendan may not even be handling the investigation and may have had an AUSA from another district assigned. So, just keep hammering Rounds and his cronies over their refusal to appear and testify and Daugaard over the unanswered question: What was the subject of those OTHER subpoenas. He can't claim secrecy because a) there is none and b) He already disclosed the ones about Benda.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.21

    Good points, folks! Christie isn't on a ballot. Ellis appears to be falling for the GOP's effort to cloud the issue and make us forget who's really hiding information to cover their own keesters.

    Sid makes a particularly good point: Brendan Johnson may not even be running the investigation. DOJ could very sensibly have looked at the case, looked at all the political players it could have involved, and nipped any conflict of interest in the bud from day one.

    And indeed, Governor Daugaard leaked the first subpoena; why can't he tell us about the rest?

  13. larry kurtz 2014.09.21

    The insertion of Christie into the dialog merely reinforces the overall culture of corruption within the GOP as we know it.

  14. lesliengland 2014.09.21

    leave it to republicans to turn things on their heads. scandle in the senate race and governor's office??-blame it on the democrat US Attorney while shouting that it is a federal matter. or kathy tyler out stealing signs. geez.

    we will likely have not only Boz but her husband and someone else in rounds' or daugaard's office prosecuted after the election.

    Christie knew how to stymie the Jersey US Attorney, having been one-albeit not a very good one. bush wasn't a very good president either but kinda got the hang of at least acting like he was competent despite what most dems could patently see. same as saying rick violated PAC law when the recent ad likely hit home.

    and then there is jackley and daugaard, stonewalling for political purposes.

    repubs will do and say ANYTHING to distract, and to win the most votes cast. Rick and Susan must keep pressing both the issues and the fraud. something may give.

  15. Moses 2014.09.21

    Pop goes the weazel when the weazel goes pop is that Krebs.

  16. Moses 2014.09.21

    speaking of wheres Larry is he bringing Bollen out, hey come on Tidemann lets get it going.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.21

    Rounds, Wadhams, et al are barking up the wrong tree by asking Brendan to reveal the status of the federal investigation.
    They should be asking Marty what Bredan knows, after all we know the two talk as was revealed by Jackley when he granted political immunity to Bosworth for her election fraud,

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.22

    Speaking of barking up the wrong tree, Roger, have you noticed Dakota War College's latest running rumor about Brendan Johnson leaving the U.S. Attorney's office to set himself up for a run in 2016? The SDGOP remains obsessed with running against Johnson. But if that rumor pans out, if Johnson leaves that office, they lose the whole "Brendan is stonewalling and politicizing EB-5!" smokescreen.

    And yeah, let's get Marty to spill the beans. He may not have arrested Bosworth until after the primary, but he had no problem telling us that he was carrying out an investigation of Senate candidates.

  19. mike from iowa 2014.09.22

    Have Bollen pay back the money he absconded with,plus testify against Rounds/Daugaard et al in exchange for life in prison with no possibility of parole.

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