Quiros, Stenger poured thousands into VT politics
The businessmen accused of an eight-year fraud scheme linked to the Jay Peak ski resort have poured thousands of dollars into Vermont politicians' coffers in recent years.
Ariel Quiros, the Florida businessman accused of using foreign investor money for personal use, and his associates have given $30,000 to the Vermont Democratic Party and $14,000 to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin since 2012, state and federal disclosures show.
William Stenger, who partnered with Quiros, has doled out campaign money since 2008 to candidates including Shumlin, the Vermont Republican Federal Elections Committee and Vermont's U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, both Democrats.
Shumlin said Thursday his administration's investigation and lawsuit against Quiros and Stenger shows the contributions had no effect on his administration.
"It’s a testament to the fact that campaign contributions don’t make a difference that I set up the structure that went in and found this out and brought us to where we are today," Shumlin said.
Shumlin has been an enthusiastic supporter of Vermont's regional center for EB-5, the program that allows foreign investors to contribute $500,000 to economic development for the opportunity to become a U.S. resident.
“I don’t hang out socially with any of the EB-5 principals," Shumlin said when pressed by a reporter about his relationship with Quiros and Stenger.
Leahy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been outspoken on the need to reform the EB-5 program to prevent fraud.
Leahy said Friday he'd ask his staff to donate his Stenger contributions "to some charity in the Northeast Kingdom that would enable people jobs."
Leahy said he was disappointed in the allegations and described Stenger as a friend.
“We’ve talked a lot, even though, I mean, he’s a Republican, I’m a Democrat," Leahy said. "I have a lot of friends who are Republicans.”
Bruce Lisman, a Republican candidate for governor, called on all Vermont politicians to return Quiros and Stenger campaign contributions to the court-appointed receiver who is managing the Jay Peak businesses.
Scott Coriell, a spokesman for the governor, said Lisman's call should include any Republican candidates who received money from the two. He said remaining campaign money in Shumlin's account would be used to support charities and other political candidates.
Campaign finance reports show that Quiros used various companies, all based out of the same Miami office, to make his donations. Campaign finance rules in effect at the time capped contributions at $2,000, but the total of various Quiros-linked donations exceeds that amount, records show.
Quiros gave $2,000 contributions to Shumlin under his own name at his Miami business address, and also under the names of his companies GSI of Dade County Inc., Q Burke Mountain Resort LLC, Q Development LLC, and Technology Tree USA Inc. Another $2,000 contribution under Quiros' name appears to be linked to his home address in Key Biscayne, Florida, according to Vermont campaign-finance records.
It is unclear whether any of the contributions refer to Quiros' son, Ary Quiros.
The campaign finance website FollowTheMoney.org shows that Ariel Quiros and his wife contributed $400 toward Republican Gov. Jim Douglas' 2004 campaign.
Another company linked to Quiros, Inner Circle Professional Services LLC, is based at the same business address but registered under the name of his business associate, William Kelly. Inner Circle Professional Services also chipped in $2,000 for Shumlin's campaign.
In federal filings, the Vermont Democratic Party reported receiving $10,000 and $12,000 from Florida-based contributors named Ariel Quiros in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Stenger's campaign activities included $2,000 contributions to Shumlin in 2012 and in 2014, in addition to a $2,000 check from Mary Jane Stenger. He gave $4,800 to Leahy in 2009, and a total of $1,500 to Welch over two election cycles.
Records also show that Jay Peak Resort contributed $2,000 to Republican Brian Dubie's gubernatorial campaign in 2010, and Mary Jane Stenger contributed an in-kind donation.
Stenger also gave $2,000 toward Dubie's campaign, according to FollowTheMoney.org.
All told, the two men and their associates have given at least $62,000 to Vermont political causes since 2008, when the federal lawsuit related to the Jay Peak foreign investor program alleges their fraudulent activities began.
- Jay Peak - Q Burke Mountain Resort, Hotel and Conference Center L.P.
- Ariel Quiros
- Peter Shumlin
- Patrick Leahy
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