Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Re: Slaughterhouse EB-5--The Dead Guy Did It. So Says A South Dakota Legislative Committee, Anyway.

     Meantime, I think now's the time to press SD Attorney General Marty Jackley to release Richard Benda's autopsy report. 

                                    Former SD State Official Richard Benda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Richard Benda is the dead guy who also just happens to be the fall guy in the drawn-out "cash for green cards" EB-5 scandal that is being "actively" investigated by the FBI.  The scandal also went through a rather lame, recently completed analysis by the South Dakota State Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC), which just issued its findings and basically concluded that the late Richard Benda, the former state official who killed himself about a year ago, was responsible for the whole mess.
     And just how does Attorney General Jackley fit into all this?  It's Jackley who has been withholding Benda's autopsy report on the grounds that its release would conflict with the Benda family's right to privacy.  I strongly disagree  (on the public's-right-to-know grounds) with Jackley's position on this, which has been upheld in the courts.  But now, given his tossed-under-the-bus status, I have to wonder if Benda's family, already traumatized by his suicide, isn't  suffering another wave of unbearable pain as it watches him trashed by the South Dakota Legislature. My hope is that if there's any reputation of his worth supporting that Benda's family will accede to the release of the full report, which may contain some information of value to the public even as it potentially diffuses some of the blame for the scandal by including other state officials in its web.
    As to the lameness of GOAC's conclusions, they are so rife with unchallenged statements and assertions that I'd say the document is effectively worthless.  Cory Heidelberger over at The Madville Times, agrees. The MT, which has been consistently doing a yeoman's job of investigating, concluding and commenting on the whole Slaughterhouse EB-5 fiasco, weighs in on the GOAC's report.  Heidelberger's point-by-point analysis raises issues that need to be considered before drawing final conclusions about the affair. Considering that the legislative committee seems to regard this as a closed case, we'll have to wait on the FBI's investigation for further clarification.
     In the meantime, there's still the matter of a whole lot of money that nobody seems to be willing to follow.  I've seen estimates ranging as high as $140 million in fees collected from foreign investors in the EB-5 program that could/should have gone to the State of South Dakota but were diverted to privateers who appear to have hijacked the program from the state and collected the money for themselves. Apparently the GOAC has no interest in following this money trail.  As the committee is top-heavy with Republicans, under whose legislative and executive watches the events occurred, the few Democrats on the committee have publicly disagreed with the findings and are considering filing a "minority report," a consideration worthy of pursuit.


  1. Is there a committee vote on this conclusion? I would be very interested in the minority report, and I agree that the autopsy report should be released. Government protection of personal privacy only applies when it advantages government.

  2. Brendon Johnson's favor to his good friend AG Marty JAckley. AS long as Johnson has this fake "Federal Investigation" then Jackley doesn't have to give the public any more information on the Benda case. If he did, we would probably find out that Jackley lied about a lot of things and that just would not look good for a guy who perceives himself the next governor.