Justice Department Still Investigating EB-5

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.

16 Responses to Justice Department Still Investigating EB-5

  1. mike from iowa

    The Sioux Falls paper is inaccurate. Back in 2013,Jackley said the investigation into the purloined money was closed. He didn’t report filing any charges until around June of 2014 not around the time of Benda’s so called suicide.

  2. rounds can not be happy… waitin’ for that other shoe to drop. watch for heavy handed influence attempts on Justice by GOP to “make it go away-aiiiieeee!”

    way to go mercer and ellis. thank you.

    jackley should call in all the majority red state atty genls assn and gang up and sue the Justice Dept at taxpayer expense to protect their newbie senator from prosecution that may eventually happen.

    obviously jackey’s completed investigation pinning benda did not go far enough. last i knew there may be as much as $500,000,000 to a billion of green card money that got “privatized” in little ole’ red SD!

  3. It’s Obama playin’ politics is a stupid explanation, but maybe enough people in South Dakota are stupid enough to nod their heads and dismiss it.

    I don’t know how the feds can overlook the RICO case that’s setting here, with the involvement of the S.D. Board of Regents, Benda acting as middle man with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the fleecing of EB-5 investors, the illicit pocketing of more than $100 million, the destruction of records, and Smilin’ Mike Rounds acting as Ringmaster. I’ll credit Marty Jackley with being consistent. He’s working overtime covering up this gigantic con job. And, MFI, he’s been aware of the continuing federal investigation just as we all have because we read about it in the newspapers. Nobody said the feds stopped investigating.

    A tip of the hat to Mr. Jonathan Ellis for some smart reporting. Thank you, sir. I apologize for my previous statements on Madville Times. The lack of justice in this case is appalling and points to a serious sickness in a state that refuses to observe that crooks call the shots in Pierre and that they can’t be stopped.

  4. W R Old Guy

    The Feds may be looking at establishing a RICO case. These investigations tend to take a long time as they often involve multiple suspects both domestic and foreign along with multiple jurisdictions.

    Here is a link to the US DOJ on guidelines.

    There will be a number of people producing copious amounts of sweat if this is DOJ’s plan.

    The info we know would seems to meet the requirements

  5. Roger Cornelius

    Naturally I’m suspect of the timing of Jackley’s comments especially since he is comfortable with his “investigation”.
    Is he aware of some movement of the federal EB-5 investigation and wants to get out front of it?
    Over on the Dump Site, Powers and Jones have been holding forth making the same comments as they have had in the past. Of course they neglect to mention how the SDGOP shutdown of what should have been a GOAC investigation.
    As Cory points out, every time I hear Jackley and the SDGOP whine about the federal investigation, I wonder why Jackley won’t release the full reports of the attorney general’s investigation.
    If Jackley is a sharp lawyer, he should have a strong sense of where the federal investigation is headed.
    In the end, the same questions remain unanswered and hidden within the SDGOP.

  6. I don’t claim to be a member of the bar, but are not Jackley’s comments somewhat unprofessional to say the least?

    The Feds have an investigative arm which potentially extends beyond any potential state investigation regardless of what you think of the SDAG’s investigation into this matter do to a broader area of jurisdiction. That said, how can the SDAG feel comfortable in challenging the Federal DA’s office in the manner he did?

    (A side note)

    Jackley’s comments immediately reminded me of election night 1974, when another younger rising star in the GOP, named Bob Dole, called CBS News (as reported by CBS at the time live) asking if they were about to call the senate race he was in, because he was in a tight re-election bid that election night and he just apparently wanted to get the agony over with and face the truth…..

  7. winston- it seems that as mentioned here and previously, this is part of a very forceful contest that the new majority of red state attorneys general have created with their national association that lobbyists and big law firms are courting favor with. for example, big oil, energy, coal and anti-renewables just met with assoc. pres. scott pruitt, oklahoma AG in a gaudy affair. they are mapping an anti-regulatory batch of major lawsuits and other legal attacks to undermine all democratic and obama administration policies they think they can upset.

    my guess is jackley is a happy member and participant, on our dollar. it is a very brash chapter of GOP OBSTRUCTIONISM. each of these red states adds some 100 or so more deputy attorneys general to the fight. 100 x 28 some states is a lotta legal horsepower, at taxpayer expense, to harness for the benefit if the GOP.

    How the feds can cope with this size of combined assault is anybody’s guess? kinda like Citizens United unlimited campaign money.

  8. mike from iowa

    96 Tears-I never said the feds quit investigating. Jackley,hisownself,said around the time Benda offed?himself that the state closed the investigation into the purloined money. Then,around seven months later,Jackley says the state had planned to charge Benda with embezzlement and grand theft.

  9. W R Old Guy

    Today’s RCJ has a story on Jackley being “annoyed” by the ongoing fed investigation. He apparently wants it over soon.

  10. Heck, I’m annoyed, too, WR. I want the feds to wrap things up and issue indictments. But I recognize that South Dakota’s EB-5 program was designed to be complicated to complicate any public or legal scrutiny.

  11. mike from iowa

    Wingnut Illinois congressweasel resigns. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/aaron-schock-resigns-116153.html. Math skills(or lack thereof) done him in.

  12. Schocking!

  13. hahahahaha. arrogant GOP idiot. Noem and her selfie portrait with this guy, soon to be felon like rounds may find, on the great wall will be a great tool in a next election. But she’s busy right now taking down the IRS while Rounds be takin down EPA and ACA.

    sadly, 20 speeding tickets, like ignoring stop signs and running down motorists isn’t enough for SDGOP to get unelected in this lil’ red state of true believers. Maybe EB5 will be, given appropriate, unstifled investiagation that could have been in an election year!!

  14. So, will any South Dakota reporters put that photo up of Noem and her “friend” and ask the grown-up question, “Who all paid for any parts of that trip to Hawaii and then on to the Great Wall and other points?” I would guess the answer would be something like “howmana, howmana, howmana, howmana!”

  15. bearcreekbat

    Here is a link the the photo of Kristi and Aaron in the Argus: