WATCHDOG: Still waiting for state to speak on death of Richard Benda

WATCHDOG: Still waiting for state to speak on death of Richard Benda


It's been a month since the death of Richard Benda and the escalating intrigue over the federal investigation into the EB-5 program in South Dakota.

The EB-5 program essentially allows wealthy foreigners to buy green cards by if they invest in or start American businesses. 

Benda served as then-Gov. Mike Rounds’ as secretary of tourism and state development between 2006 and 2010. The latter position involved oversight of South Dakota's EB-5 program. 

Did Benda kill himself? Die he die accidentally? Was he murdered? We don't know, because a month after his death, the state Attorney General's Office still hasn't released his death certificate.

Is this unusual? Argus Leader reporter John Hult says he hasn't encountered it before:

"In four and a half years on the crime beat, I’ve never had to wait longer than a week and a half" for a death certificate, Hult writes today on his blog

Meanwhile, a state legislative board decided not to pursue a fiscal audit of the program. 

Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or

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