Thursday, May 14, 2015

GOP-owned SD Supreme Court upholds GOP attorney general

Ooooo: looks like Marty is on tilt!
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has unsuccessfully urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review the Department of Justice's conduct in its investigation of the state's investment-for-visa program. Jackley revealed Thursday he sent two letters in the past year to Holder relaying his ``deep'' and ``serious'' concerns about the DOJ's conduct. South Dakota was one of the pioneers in EB-5 financing under former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds. [KEVN teevee]
Surprise! Bob Mercer's request to see Richard Benda's autopsy report and investigation files was shot in the abdomen by another Republican-owned court in South Dakota.

A report from a SDGOP-heavy legislative committee blamed the dead Benda, a former Governors Office of Economic Development employee, for the EB-5 scandal.
Democrats on the committee disagreed with the conclusion that Benda was the sole person at fault. "I don't believe that Richard Benda was the only one involved in this," said state Sen. Larry Lucas, D-Mission. The committee deliberately decided not to investigate the private company Bollen founded to help run the EB-5 program, SDRC Inc. Lucas stood by his call for more investigations into Bollen's private company. In particular, he highlighted the question of who owned SDRC Inc. Bollen founded the company in January 2008 but told the committee in written remarks that he didn't consider himself the company's owner for another year and a half. "I believe... that there are state laws that have been broken, particularly by Joop Bollen," Lucas said. Democrats, Lucas said, are considering filing a "minority report" about EB-5 -- though it's unclear whether the committee's rules allow a formal minority report. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
As former US Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan Johnson moves into private practice the US Department of Justice has refused to trust the state's attorney general with sensitive information in the EB-5 scandal.
It should come as no surprise when the Gov. Daugaard Administration decides not to release information concerning an EB-5 visa program that continues to be shrouded in mystery. In March, the Journal's legislative correspondent, Bob Mercer, asked the state Supreme Court to release Attorney General Marty Jackley's death report on Richard Benda, a former state department head and SDRC official who reportedly shot himself in the stomach with a shotgun while dressed in hunting gear near Lake Andes. Since Benda died in October 2013, state officials have seemingly went the extra yard to keep this program under wraps. This lack of transparency reaffirms the fact that closure in this case is not on any agenda in Pierre, which raises even more questions.
Read that here.

The slush money paid by the Future Fund pay-to-play scheme comes from every business owner in South Dakota who pays unemployment taxes.
The fund ended calendar 2014 with a balance of $84.8 million, according to final numbers. The goal had been approximately $76 million, based on a U.S. Department of Labor recommendation. During 2014, the trust fund received $43.7 million from employer contributions and interest while paying out $26.5 million in benefits. That allowed the balance to increase to nearly $85 million. [Bob Mercer, Unemployment fund is 'at a healthy place']
Future Fund cash is a feature of the Bendagate scandal.

South Dakota has routinely operated in an ethics vacuum often aborting efforts to reduce opacity.

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