Drawing the Shmethical Line

Brent Raymond’s move from regulating the EB-5 program to operating one of them is proving impossible to ignore. How impossible? Top Shumlin administration officials are actually raising questions about it. They’re even invoking the feared Executive Code of Ethics.

“The governor has concerns about the potential for a conflict of interest in this decision. … We fully expect all appointees and former appointees to comply with the Executive Code of Ethics,” spokesman Scott Coriell said in an email. “The governor has also asked (the Agency of Commerce and Community Development) to review the communications leading up to this departure to ensure that all actions were in compliance with the Executive Code of Ethics and conflict of interest policies.”

Ah, the Executive Code of Shmethics: the Mock Apple Pie of good government. (Mmmm, Ritz crackers and RealLemon!)

This picture should not be interpreted as visual commentary on the content of this post.

This picture should not be interpreted as visual commentary on the content of this post.

The most interesting phrase in the above paragraph is “leading up to his departure.” It would, indeed, be instructive to know how long Mr. Raymond was negotiating his new job with an EB-5 developer while continuing to be, at least in title, the state’s EB-5 regulator.

And how in Hell he thought it was okay to do that.

Well, at some level he probably knew it wasn’t okay. Otherwise he wouldn’t have kept his superiors in the dark until he actually had the job in hand. Whereupon they waived his 30-day notice and showed him the door toot suite.

He’ll still get paid for the 30 days. Because after all, why punish the guy?

This situation cries out for tougher standards, and for an impartial body to enforce them. Can we really continue to insist we don’t have a problem, when we keep finding ourselves in the ethical swampland?

Maybe we can. Because his boss, Commerce Secretary Patricia Moulton, offered this initial reaction to VTDigger:

Moulton characterized Raymond’s departure as “standard turnover, nothing out of the ordinary.” Raymond parted ways with the agency “amicably and respectfully,” she said.

“Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.”

Indeed, as VTDigger reports, Raymond is not the first EB-5 related staffer to cross this line.

Becky Fu, the manager of international trade and investment for the state and a former member of the Vermont regional center staff, left three weeks ago to take a job with Trapp Family Lodge, which is also a recipient of EB-5 immigrant investor funds.

Well, hooray for her.

Moulton offered a slightly less credulous take for the Vermont Press Bureau’s Neal Goswami, perhaps after a brief consult with the Governor’s office:

Moulton said Raymond’s new position with Mount Snow is not ideal, but there is no statute or policy preventing him from working for a project he once regulated.

“We really can’t control people’s job decisions. We’d prefer that not be the case, but we certainly have no control over what people choose to do,” Moulton said.

Oh, c’mon now. You could control people’s job decisions if you had ethical standards with some teeth. Then again, serving in a lame-duck administration, Moulton herself is probably thinking about a job search of her own. As is every political appointee in the administration.

Don’t want any pesky rules in the way, do we?

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