The Department of Justice says it is still investigating South Dakota’s EB-5 visa investment program… or at least that’s the excuse the feds give Jonathan Ellis for turning down his papers FOIA request:
The Department of Justice is refusing to release records related to former cabinet secretary Richard Benda, who was at the heart of a state and federal investigation into the state’s EB-5 program.
The department declined the Argus Leader‘s request for Benda’s FBI file, indicating the matter remains under investigation. The department’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request said that releasing the records “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings” [Jonathan Ellis, “Jackley Not Happy with DOJ in Benda Investigation,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.03.16].
Continuing his tradition of tone-deaf, non-value-adding blogging on EB-5, Pat Powers apparentlies and possiblies his way to repeat his hopeful assertion that DOJ is just playing games. Attorney General Marty Jackley and friends of the GOP regime tell us there’s been no action they know of on the EB-5 investigation, but the knowledge and avowals of Republican officials hardly exhaust the universe of fact. If South Dakota Republicans were up to monkey business, they still have plenty of motivation to bluff. If the FBI was up to no good, their chief motivations for peddling EB-5 myths—hampering Mike Rounds’s Senate aspirations and boosting U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson’s profile—have both gone poof, since Rounds has graduated to Senate to do other dumb things and Johnson has left the federal courthouse to help Indians.
The DOJ is saying on the record that there is enough possibility of enforcement proceedings to outweigh the Freedom of Information Act. I’d like to think that’s no casual claim.
But as good friend of the blog Roger Cornelius reminds me, if AG Jackley is really unhappy with the feds, if he really thinks the feds have nothing and are now just stringing us along for political purposes, he has an easy way to lay bare the feds’ charade. AG Jackley can do what candidate Rounds called for back in October: make the federal EB-5 subpoenas public. Show us the eight sets of information the federal grand jury came looking for two years ago. Show us that whatever the feds were looking at obviously couldn’t have involved any actual wrongdoing by anyone in South Dakota.
And while we’re on the openness kick (it is Sunshine Week), Attorney General Jackley, how about discloing the full record of your investigation of Richard Benda’s death? Bob Mercer’s appeal toward that end comes before the South Dakota Supreme Court next week Tuesday.