Slightly off topic: Good thing the Burlington Free Press published its advertorial piece about Q Burke (written by a Q Burke PR person) before the shit hit the fan at Stengerville. I hope the Freeploid got paid in advance, because Stenger’s not cutting any checks anytime soon. The article, identified as “NEWS,” can still be viewed on the Freeper’s website. At least for now. I’m surprised they haven’t consigned it to the dark web already.
Anyway, on with the shitshow. Unsurprisingly, Governor Shumlin has launched full-steam-ahead into a thorough rewrite of history. He’s claiming that he saw the Stenger/Quiros scandal coming before everyone else, and his administration took proactive steps to uncover the scandal and limit the damage.
If true, his response to the scandal was astoundingly muted. It looks as though he began slowly edging away from his previous boosterism for the project, which included many an international junket which saw him doing his level best to steer investors into the Stenger/Quiros web of fraud and deceit. Slowly edging away, but otherwise holding his tongue. How unlike a watchdog.
I wonder what he’d say to all those investors if he was somehow confronted by them all. Do I hear a “nothingburger”?
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh on the Guv, since he didn’t have direct oversight on EB-5 projects, he inherited the oversight process from the administratively flawless Douglas administration, and the Stenger/Quiros plan seemed like such a boon for a long-depressed part of the state. But his words today just made my blood boil.
As a reminder, the Stenger/Quiros scam involved the misuse of $200 million in investor funds. Two hundred million dollars!
Somebody should have noticed a long time ago. Maybe they would have, if the Shumlin administration hadn’t been complicit in a transparently inadequate regulatory structure. But wait, apparently I’ve got it all wrong. It was Peter Shumlin himself who’s the hero of this drama.
Shumlin took credit for holding Quiros and Stenger accountable. His administration took action to investigate investor complaints in December 2014. The governor said that by September 2015, state officials had enough financial documentation from the developers to grasp the scale of the alleged misappropriations, elaborate transfers of funds between entities, and the overall scope of the deception.
The governor portrayed his administration as the entity responsible for discovering the problems. Despite taking trade trips with Stenger to promote EB-5 projects, Shumlin said he had maintained an appropriate distance with the developers.
I gotta admit, the guy’s got balls. Too bad he’s also full of shit.
VTDigger has been bird-dogging (bird-digging?) this story for more than two years. And at every step along the way, Digger has gotten a huge amount of blowback from the administration for one-sided reporting that threatened to undercut the Stenger project. Every time Digger published a piece about Stenger’s troubles, it got a flurry of outraged contacts from the administration.
Funny thing. It turned out that Digger didn’t know the half of it. The real troubles in Stengerville were far beyond anything that Digger ever published.
Shumlin now claims he was ahead of the game when oversight was transferred from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to the Department of Financial Regulation. And yes, that was a good and necessary move. But it doesn’t explain why Shumlin and friends had, until then, consistently defended ACCD officials and their fatally compromised regulatory structure against all comers.
But let’s set all my nitpicking and inconvenient timelines aside, and ask one simple question: if Shumlin’s people spearheaded the search for the truth, why was it the feds who carried out the raid on Stenger HQ, seizing records, freezing bank accounts, and changing the locks?
Here’s the kicker, thanks to VTDigger’s Anne Galloway.
Despite taking trade trips with Stenger to promote EB-5 projects, Shumlin said he had maintained an appropriate distance with the developers.
“I don’t hang out socially with any of the EB-5 principals,” Shumlin said.
Greetings, Captain Renault. I understand you are shocked, shocked, to hear that gambling is going on.
But fear not. The good Captain is on the case!
“My commitment as governor is to do everything that I can to protect these Vermonters’ jobs and the investors who are the victims of these allegations, as well as to insure we do everything we can to make the best of what is a terrible situation.”
Allow me to correct that statement. It should read “My commitment as governor, from now on, is to do everything that I can…” Because he sure as hell hasn’t been doing everything he could before now.
One more thing. The feds are talking both civil and criminal cases against Stenger and Quiros. Our One-Fisted Eternal General Bill Sorrell, meanwhile, is promising to do maybe nothing.
Sorrell said the state has not “contemplated” a criminal case at this time. Stenger and Quiros face no jail time at present, Sorrell said.
Good God. I hope his contemplation takes a turn for the proactive. Any AG worth his salt would be contemplating a criminal case. Especially if the Shumlin administration has been on top of this scandal all along. Sorrell must have already had substantial time for contemplation.
That is, he must have if Governor Shumlin is telling the truth.
I guess you know how I feel about that proposition.