It has been a busy week since the SEC locked up Q-Burke and cracked down on Stenger and Quiros’ “Ponzi like” EB-5 scheme.
One thing that has grabbed a lot of attention is a “batch” of emails from the Shumlin administration that had been slated to be deleted. Speculation is rampant about the timing – why in early April, prior to the SEC action, this batch of correspondence was slated to be wiped.
They reportedly may contain correspondence between Shumlin’s former staff member Alex MacLean, who was then working for Jay Peak’s Bill Stenger, and the governor’s office. Administration officials say the request to delete was routine. And they want them made public however Attorney General Sorrell is said to be reviewing the issue.
Now The Vermont House has scheduled a debate for Friday to consider a proposed resolution calling for the release of the emails, joining several candidates for governor and others requesting the contents be made available to the public.
Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington), who heads the House Progressive caucus, says there’s an easy way to put to rest any lingering questions.
“I agree with a whole lot of Vermonters that something seems very fishy here,” he said. “But I’m not asserting anything. I’m saying: Show us the emails and prove it to us.”
To that end, he and four fellow Progressives have introduced a resolution asking Shumlin to deliver the emails to a House committee by May 1.
Maybe it is worth asking this: Is it more likely the email batch is simply an embarrassment (a big one perhaps) for the Shumlin administration, or could it be a smoking gun? I’d bet on embarrassment over smoking gun. So good: “show us the emails” because the longer it hangs fire the more suspicion gathers.
But if the point is to get to the bottom of how the state allowed this Ponzi scheme to happen, why not start at the bottom rather than the top?
Not exactly the bottom, but how about at the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development(ACCD). This would be the state agency that had the schizophrenic task of promotion and oversight of approved EB-5 programs until February 2015 when oversight began to be shared actively with the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR).
The ACCD’s directors of the Regional EB-5 Center for both the Douglas and Shumlin administrations had day-to-day dealings and traveled extensively overseas in support of Jay Peak and Q-Resorts’ team.
In their designated role former Regional Center Directors James Candido (Douglas’ man) and Brent Raymond (Shumlin’s former Director) were the faces Vermont presented to foreign investors. Their attendance at worldwide EB-5 conventions signaled Vermont‘s stamp of approval for Jay Peak /Q-Burke, helping Stenger and Quiros gather funds.
Considering the scale of fraud alleged could state officials so familiar with the operation not have expressed some worries or had suspicions? And just what was the calculus that weighed in favor of ignoring the tell-tale signs, of favoring the developers-cum (alleged) robber barons over their responsibilities to the people of Vermont and the (alleged) foreign-investor-victims?
At some point Vermont’s combination “watchdog” and enabling agency – going back to the Douglas daze – deserves as much or more attention than Shumlin’s batch of emails is now getting. The Regional EB-5 Center was there helping sell the snake oil from the start. What did the directors know and when might they have known it ?