Okay, so after less than one year on the job, the director of Vermont’s embattled EB-5 program has resigned. And nobody is saying boo about it. No explanation, no praise for the departed, just No Comment across the board.
Nothing to see here, folks. Move it along.
Well, sorry, but if there’s one area of state government where That Dog Won’t Hunt, it’s the scandal-plagued EB-5 program.
Plus, we’re not talking about some schmo plucked from bureaucratic obscurity to caretake EB-5 through the fag end of the Shumlin administration. When he was hired in August 2015, Gene Fullam appeared to be the idea candidate.
Last August, the Shumlin administration announced — with great fanfare — the hiring of a new staffer to manage and promote the state’s EB-5 office. Fullam was a veteran of high finance with world-spanning connections built over the course of a lengthy career in the top ranks of international banking. What could be better?
Plus, we didn’t have to convince him to move here. He’d relocated to Vermont two years earlier, so he was right on hand. The administration’s press release was bursting with pride over the new leadership for a troubled program.
Fullam joins an outstanding team that includes another recent hire: Krista Conley, who serves as the director of International Trade. Together with [Economic Development] Commissioner [Joan] Goldstein, this dynamic leadership will anchor the Vermont Regional Center as it administers best-in-class business practices.
Vermont’s EB-5 program was in desperate need of a credibility infusion. The long-undetected Jay Peak scandal had forced the administration to shift regulatory authority from the Commerce Agency to the Department of Financial Regulation. Also, Fullam’s two predecessors had left state government to take jobs with EB-5-funded developers, further darkening the cloud hanging over the program.
And now EB-5’s White Knight is gone. Just like that. And we’re not supposed to ask questions?
“Gene Fullam offered his resignation and I have accepted, he has moved on,” said Pat Moulton, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
… Moulton said she lacked time for an interview about Fullam’s departure.
Heh, yeah. Busy busy busy. Gotta wash my hair, walk the dog, you know how it is.
This little farrago might pass the smell test if it was anywhere other than EB-5, and if Fullam hadn’t been such a great fit for the post. But not here, not now.
Who knows, there may be perfectly valid reasons for his precipitous exit. Maybe his’s gotta move to Florida to care for his aging parents. Maybe he contracted Lyme Disease and he can’t handle the pace. But if there was a reasonable explanation, don’t you think we’d be getting it instead of this “we’ve moved on” routine?
And don’t you think we’d be getting a little bit of praise for Gene Fullam’s excellent job in managing the program through difficult times and setting the stage for future success? Nope, it’s off to Siberia for the White Knight, whose name shall no longer cross our lips.
Just one more blotch on the thoroughly tainted image of EB-5.