Being a U.S. senator is a heady job. It provides stature, power and privilege that few Vermonters will ever enjoy or can even relate to. In fact, it is such a lofty position senators are often insulated from the public and media by large staffs and the considerable geographic distance between the home press corps and their official duties. As a result, U.S. senators can become easily annoyed when challenged or just routinely questioned by the media, a constituent, or even a political opponent, and sometimes can lose sight of what is the right thing to do.
This seems to be the case with Sen. Patrick Leahy and the call to release his EB-5 emails.
Senator Leahy — who has written numerous endorsements of the media’s “Sunshine Week” to promote government transparency — flatly refused a request by his presumptive general election opponent, Scott Milne, to release all of Leahy’s (and his staff’s) emails related to the federal EB-5 program.
Is Milne’s request steeped in politics? Yes. Even Milne has traveled in support of Vermont’s EB-5 program and has spoken highly of it. Nonetheless, the request is not unreasonable, given the scope of the federal charges against Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, the two businessmen accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of EB-5 fraud in the Northeast Kingdom. Leahy has been one of the primary advocates of the federal EB-5 program in the U.S. Senate, traveled abroad to promote the Vermont EB-5 program and was pictured at a ground-breaking ceremony with both Quiros and Stenger.
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