Seth Tupper exposes our Congressional delegation’s lukewarm laziness on EB-5 reform. Then he reminds us how bad all the other players in South Dakota’s EB-5 scandal look… including Brendan Johnson.
Tupper recites the multi-million-dollar monkeyshines Joop Bollen committed as our EB-5 czar and wonders how Bollen hasn’t been brought to justice:
David North, a fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., said he thinks some of the conduct revealed in the letter could be criminal. He wonders why an investigation into South Dakota’s handling of the EB-5 program by the FBI concluded in June with the announcement that no charges would be filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“How can the U.S. attorney, with a straight face, presumably knowing most or even just some of the things the USCIS found, how could he decide not to press a case?” North asked [Seth Tupper, “New Allegations About EB-5 Have Yet to Hurt Joop Bollen,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.11.08].
The FBI and current U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler decline to answer that question. Former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says he knows nothing because he recused himself from the case:
Johnson told the Journal this week that when EB-5 allegations first crossed his desk as U.S. attorney, the political climate was such that he felt it was necessary to immediately recuse himself from the investigation.
That climate included the winding down of the U.S. Senate career of his father, Tim; designs on that Senate seat by former Gov. Mike Rounds, under whom the state’s EB-5 regional center was founded and flourished; and speculation — confirmed as accurate by Brendan Johnson in a Journal interview last week — that the he was mulling his own possible Senate candidacy.
“Having me involved in decisions that could cast aspersions or determine liability when it came to the governor’s office, it felt to me that it would give the appearance of being political,” Johnson said in explaining his recusal decision. He ultimately decided against running for the Senate [Tupper, 2015.11.08].
Johnson decided against running for Senate in May 2013, less than two months after the State of South Dakota received a federal grand jury subpoena for EB-5 records. The federal investigation continued for over two years, until the FBI closed it on June 1, 2015. Brendan Johnson’s political excuse for not exerting himself on the EB-5 investigation faded in May 2013; it completely evaporated on Election Day 2014. He could have unrecused himself and pushed for the justice that his counterparts at USCIS have found is needed (on evidence published in this blog and other South Dakota media back in late 2013).
Tupper gets more sweet nothings from Attorney General Marty Jackley:
“Based upon a state investigation of state crimes, we made a determination that there was sufficient evidence to move forward with grand jury proceedings on Richard Benda,” Jackley said. “There wasn’t sufficient evidence of other state criminal activity, but we certainly keep an open mind and review additional matters. Additional matters have surfaced, and we’re reviewing them” [Tupper, 2015.11.08].
…and Senator Larry Tidemann, who “led” the Government Operations and Audit Committee “investigation” of EB-5 in 2014:
“What he did as a public employee, that information we can review as GOAC,” Tidemann said. “What he did as a private entity is really between he and the federal (government). And if they feel that he’s done misdeeds, then it’s up to them. I can’t intervene at the federal level.”
The Journal asked Tidemann if he thinks Bollen did anything wrong during his time as a state employee or state contractor.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Tidemann said. “I’ve already commented that we looked at the records when he was a state employee, we did the audits on the things that were part of the state. As a private entity, I don’t have access to go to look at all those things [Tupper, 2015.11.08].
Can’t look, won’t look, won’t even say… good grief, Larry! Let me show you how easy it is: Joop Bollen broke the rules (not just federal rules, Larry, but South Dakota rules). Joop Bollen hurt South Dakota. South Dakota should hold Joop Bollen accountable.
Governor Dennis Daugaard is at least squeezing Bollen with two civil lawsuits and laying blame on him for our shoddy EB-5 reporting to the feds. But he keeps portraying most of the malfeasance as something for the feds to deal with. Arrgghh! What ever happened to South Dakota self-reliance?
At best, the hesitance of all of these political figures, Brendan Johnson included, to call a spade a Maverick Spade suggests a lack of leadership as grave as that of our Congressional delegation on EB-5. At worst, it signals that the powers that be can’t afford to seek real justice on EB-5, because pulling the Joop Bollen thread would unravel a tapestry of corruption into which every big player is knit.