Ahead of a self-described "likely" challenge to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Pomfret Republican Scott Milne criticized the senior senator Friday for "mismanaging" the federal EB-5 investor visa program.
"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."
The once-popular EB-5 program, which provides permanent residency to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in qualified development projects, has come under fire recently in Vermont. Last month, federal and state authorities accused Northeast Kingdom developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger of orchestrating a "Ponzi-like" scheme that allegedly defrauded investors of more than $200 million raised through the program.
Milne also accused Leahy of "travel[ing] the world to help recruit investors into this alleged Ponzi scheme." The senator's office has said that he promoted Vermont's EB-5 regional center during unrelated trips to China and Vietnam in 2014 and Ireland in 2008 but that he did not advocate specific projects.
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