Monday, December 16, 2013

Cry Me A River, Attorney General Jackley

     In a press release dated Friday 12/13, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley complained about editorial criticism of his handling of the loss of South Dakota's money in the collapse of Northern Beef Processors of Aberdeen, South Dakota. NBP is a South Dakota-assisted venture that is part of the U.S. State Department's EB-5 visa program granting entry into the United States in exchange for substantial investments in American firms.  You can find complete coverage by checking out independent reporter Bob Mercer's numerous articles on the subject--just google him and you'll get an excellent, comprehensive re-cap, all of it much too long for this blog's purposes
     Anyway, the fiasco is of such magnitude, involving tens of millions of dollars, including grants from the State of South Dakota, that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney are investigating it. That's all well and good, but South Dakota's Attorney General apparently doesn't want to get into the act and has taken to complaining publicly about those who want an investigation.  Jackley notes in his press release that  in spite of the fact that "the Attorney General has no authority over a federal EB-5 program and the associated approval process of funds, it will continue to cooperate with federal authorities."   Given a particular sequence of events that resulted in what Jackley himself called an "improper diversion" (Rapid City Journal 11/23/13) of $550 thousand of South Dakota's grant money that was awarded to NBP, there is an obvious South Dakota-specific component to this whole story--namely, how did more than half-a-million bucks get transferred from South Dakota to NBP to a gent (now deceased via suicide a few weeks ago) named Richard Benda, who happened to be the central operator of the South Dakota office that was working directly with NBP and from which the money originated in the first place?  To be a accurate, Benda ended up with $450k, only adding to the mystery by opening the question as to what happened to the remaining $100k.
     We already know that Benda double-billed the State of South Dakota for travel vouchers to the tune of nearly $6 thousand, so the man is tainted from the get-go.  We also know that Jackley won't allow the results of the investigation of Benda's death to go public.  We already knew that Jackley washed his hands of any further investigative interest.  What we don't know is this:  why is Jackely complaining because editorialists and bloggers around the state are harping on him to get the full story.  about the details and possible pre-arrangements of a fund transfer that Jackley has already characterized as "improper?"  Seems to me the details of any impropriety involving substantial sums of South Dakota's money are worthy of a full-blown investigation by state officials.
     The classic dodge by public officials on a hot seat is to blame the media for their troubles.  Supporters of the officials also often cry "politics!"  These dodges are so often used that they would have a place in the "Ad Hominem Hall of Fame"  if there were such a place.  For my money, the latter is bunk because I support Governor Daugaard in his re-election campaign and his predecessor Mike Rounds in his bid for the Senate.  Given the whole NBP fiasco took place during their watches in the Governor's office, I think it's fair to conclude that my interest is in finding out exactly what happened, not politically crippling the two guys I'm supporting in the coming election.  As to the former dodge, blaming the messenger--I think Attorney General Jackley better have variations on that theme at the ready, because the media won't be going away anytime soon on this. 
    

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