Astounding Coincidences in Vermont Politics, EB-5 Scandal Edition…
a. Five days before the Bill Stenger/EB-5 scandal broke wide open, the Shumlin administration requests the deletion of archived emails from five former staffers in Shumlin’s office. One of the five is Alex MacLean, who left state government to take a job with Stenger’s massive development project.
b. On the day before the scandal broke, Senator Pat Leahy — until then a staunch supporter of EB-5 and Stenger — adopted a much more skeptical tone toward EB-5, saying that the program needed a major overhaul if it’s going to stay in business. Leahy insists he knew nothing about the imminent collapse of Stenger’s (alleged) pyramid scheme.
You know, call me a cynic, but I don’t believe any of it.
The administration claims its request for email deletion is routine procedure, and the timing was coincidental. Funny thing about that: the request was denied on the grounds that it violated state law.
Sorry, I’m calling bullshit. The timing stinks like dead fish at low tide.
Likewise with Leahy.
The senator said he first heard of the federal fraud investigation against Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros from a reporter Wednesday after speaking about EB-5 reforms. Also Wednesday, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission raided offices at one of the developers’ projects, Q Burke Mountain Resort, changing the locks and seizing equipment.
I find it impossible to believe that Leahy announced a significant policy shift on the very day that Stenger’s scheme collapsed. I find it equally impossible to believe that nobody in the federal government thought to give a heads-up to the most senior Senator in the party controlling the executive branch, that a major law-enforcement action was about to happen on Leahy’s home turf, targeting a man who’d been publicly associated with Leahy for years.
Nope, sorry, beyond the pale.
I realize that we’re in the early days of the biggest political shitstorm in recent Vermont history, and everybody is scrambling for plausible deniability. But there are quite a few things being said these days that strain credulity to the breaking point. The administration’s denial of ass-covering intent in its email request, and Leahy’s profession of cluelessness, are only two of them. But they are two of the more notable.
And presumably, some enterprising reporter has already filed a public records request for those emails, especially MacLean’s. Looking forward to a thorough review.