South Dakota Democrats have been asking state Republicans to dig deeper into the circumstances that surrounded the death of former South Dakota Tourism Secretary Richard Benda and the alleged financial misconduct involving the EB-5 program. On Friday Democrats announced that they have hired Rapid City attorney Patrick Duffy to help their party dig as well.
"It took more than one or two people to pull this fraud off," Duffy said.
Duffy says he knows there is a federal investigation going on surrounding the state's EB-5 program but he doesn't think any indictments or answers will come before November because prosecutors aren't supposed to influence elections.
"All of these entities who have either made inquiries or are investigating this will not be able to tell us what really happened, or what's really going on, until after the election. From the standpoint or my client that is simply too late," Duffy said.
"My grandmother always told me you can't beat a dead horse and this sure looks like a dead horse," South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Craig Lawrence said.
Lawrence believes the EB-5 situation has been investigated thoroughly.
"This is probably the most investigated matter in South Dakota history. We've got nine investigative agencies, legislative audits - three of them - and legislative review. The Republican Attorney General looked through it all and then he takes everything he finds and hands it to the Democrat Brendan Johnson, the U.S. Attorney; their guy. Now, if there's a cover-up and a conspiracy he's part of it," Lawrence said.
Duffy says no specific legal actions are planned by the Democratic Party at this point, but he is asking state employees who may know something about Benda's transfer of state money to the EB-5 program to step forward to possibly file a ‘whistleblower’ action in court.
"Quentin Tarantino might like this script when it's all said and done but it's not good for us. It's not good for the people of South Dakota," Duffy said.
Duffy's History With Legislative Investigations
In 2007 Duffy represented Democratic State Senator Dan Sutton when he faced allegations of misconduct with a legislative page.
A legislative panel with a Republican majority investigated that case and issued seven subpoenas. The committee looking into EB-5 hasn't issued any subpoenas.
2007 Story: Subpoenas Issued For Sutton Hearings
“One would think that the same people who persecuted Dan Sutton would bring the same vim and vigor in trying to figure out what happened here, but they don’t. They don’t want to,” Duffy said Friday.
Bollen Will Be Asked To Testify
The Democrats are gaining some traction in finding answers regarding the EB-5 situation.
Earlier this week the South Dakota Democratic Party asked for the legislative committee investigating to subpoena former EB-5 administrator Joop Bollen, Governor Dennis Daugaard and former Governor Mike Rounds.
On Friday Senator Larry Tidemann (R) of Brookings, who is the chairman of the committee, said he will ask Bollen to come testify at the September meeting.
Tidemann is also asking Daugaard and Rounds to submit written answers to questions surrounding the program.