When you’ve got a big development scheme in your state that’s had the enthusiastic backing of The Great and Powerful, what’s the last thing you want to hear?
“… the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft”?
“… pilfering tens of millions of dollars in investor money”?
Yep, we’ve got ’em all, as Mount Quiros, the shit volcano, erupts and everybody runs for cover lest their expensive suits get ruined.
You know, it’s not very often that the term “clusterfuck” is an understatement, but here we are.
The big impressive series of Northeast Kingdom development projects organized by Bill Stenger and his allegedly rapacious partner Ariel Quiros is suddenly imploding amid a federal raid and a searing indictment containing some of the above language.
I’m just imagining a wall full of pictures featuring Stenger and Quiros with various smiling politicians, eager for a little rub off the project.
I’m also experiencing, I have to admit, a bit of “I told you so.” Back in March 2015, I wrote that the Stenger/Quiros endeavor “reeks eight ways from Sunday.” And I’m wondering, if little old outsider me could see the smoke rising and the flames flickering, why the bright boys and girls in state government couldn’t see it coming.
I’m wondering whether Pat Moulton of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development is experiencing the least bit of shame. ACCD basically punted on serious oversight of this and other EB-5 projects in favor of outright cheerleading. And its lead regulator, Brent Raymond, did such a bang-up job of keeping developers in line that he exited state service directly into a top-level job with one of the developers he’d just finished regulating. (Any comment, Mr. Raymond? No? Okay, then, back to work you go.)
As far as I can tell, nobody in state government ever took a serious look at the Stenger/Quiros plan until last year, when oversight was transferred from ACCD to the Department of Financial Regulation, a part of state government that doesn’t mix oversight with boosterism.
And oh, look at St. Patrick Leahy, suddenly issuing a clarion call for serious reform of the whole EB-5 structure. He was one of the brains behind EB-5, whose very foundation is an ethical quagmire — selling immigration papers to rich foreigners willing to invest money in underperforming development projects, and willing to forfeit many of the rights usually held by big-dollar investors.
Myself, I think the whole structure isn’t worth trying to save. I think it’s beyond salvation, by its very nature prone to abuse.
Shit’s gonna be raining down for quite a while. Settle in, hunker down, and try not to get any on you.