John Tsitrian is rightly disappointed with Brendan Johnson. Our former U.S. Attorney spoke Friday to the Black Hills Forum and Press Club in Rapid City. Like many South Dakotans, Tsitrian would love to know what Johnson knows about the FBI’s now-closed investigation of South Dakota’s EB-5 scandal. The ever sensible Tsitrian recognizes, however, that professional ethics probably stand between Johnson and any discussion of a confidential (?) criminal investigation. Tsitrian thus posed this question to Johnson during the forum Q&A:
Forgetting about your prior position as U.S. Attorney, as a South Dakota resident are you satisfied with the State of South Dakota’s investigation into the EB-5 matter?
Johnson apparently told the audience elsewhere in his remarks that he feels less censored and can tell folks “the inside scoop.” But his response to Tsitrian’s EB-5 question sounded all censored and not at all scoopy to Tsitrian:
Johnson ignored my Q and went on and on about how he and others in his office had to recuse themselves, generally putting a rhetorical wall between him and EB-5, which we’ve all heard before. No problem with that, of course, but I couldn’t get any more out of him than that. The facilitators of the event wouldn’t let me pose a follow-up, mainly on the understandable grounds that they wanted to spread the questioning opportunities around the room [John Tsitrian, “Brendan Johnson’s Epic Fail in Rapid City,” The Constant Commoner, 2015.06.26].
I won’t go as far as Tsitrian and say that this non-response shows Johnson to be a “moxie-less” lawyer destined for no elected office. But I will second Tsitrian’s disappointment that we can’t get a former law enforcement official keenly informed on the EB-5 topic to express his disgust with the covering-up and cashing-in that the friends of Mike Rounds enjoyed from their abuse of the EB-5 program.