Scott Milne recently sold his stake in his family travel agency and began floating serious trial balloons about running against longtime Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. In March he discussed his qualifications with vtdigger.com:
[…] you know, I’m a travel agent and I think I got a shot at taking out the longest-serving senator in Vermont history and currently the longest-serving senator in the United States,” Milne said.
He now, it seems, is exploring whether the investigations into the (alleged ) “Ponzi” scheme at Jay Peak and Q-Burke is an issue that Senator Leahy, a champion of the Federal EB-5 program, may be vulnerable on. Could it have legs for Milne?
It seems unlikely, so we will see, but Scott Milne didn’t wait and jumped head first into it:
“Peter Shumlin and Patrick Leahy have both displayed a lack of competence and a lack of leadership in the way the EB-5 program has been structured and managed,” Milne said, lumping Leahy in with the Democratic governor he nearly defeated in 2014. “On the federal level, I think it just wasn’t structured with auditability and transparency built into it.”
Milne may not have thought this one through. You see he and his business partner Attorney David Boise (his former college roommate and largest contributor to his failed campaign for governor) explored using EB-5 program to help finance their mixed use Vermont development.
B&M Realty and Development has been attempting to build a mixed used development, Quechee Highlands in Hartford near the intersection of Interstates 89 and 91. B&M’s project has been wrangling in the courts over regional land use regulations (one of Milne’s signature issues).
In 2009 at their own expense, B &M partners Milne and Boise joined an EB-5 road trip to Asia with then-Governor Jim Douglas. Milne must have enjoyed the trip.He returned impressed with EB-5 and sang praises to its entrepreneurial qualities without qualification.
“To me, it [EB-5] is the perfect storm of government policy capturing the best of entrepreneurial spirit,” Milne told the Valley News a week after returning from Asia. “I was pleased beyond my expectations.”
Although still hemming and hawing a bit about challenging Sen. Leahy, Milne says former Vermont Republican Party chair Jim Barnett has been advising him.