Editorial: Looking Bad

Editorial: Looking Bad

 EB-5 Visa, EB5 Visa, EB-5 Investment

Last week VTDigger broke the story that “The general counsel for the Shumlin administration asked the state’s tech department on April 8 to delete ‘all archived email’ for five people who worked in the governor’s office prior to January 2013.”

The request came one day after Shumlin learned the SEC was going to bring court action against EB-5 developers Ari Quiros and Bill Stenger.

One of the employees in question is Northeast Kingdom native Alex MacLean, Shumlin’s former top aide and campaign manager. After her time with the Governor, MacLean went straight to work for Jay Peak, in EB-5 development.

The request to delete the emails riled a lot of people up for its stink of impropriety and cover-up. For years Shumlin, not exactly known for paragon virtue, carried water for Stenger and Quiros. At the very least, the timing of his request couldn’t have appeared shadier.

Shumlin’s camp took exception to the well-deserved and almost universally-held suspicions. He said the timing of the request was sheer coincidence and, anyway, all emails pertaining to EB-5 were placed on “litigation hold” by Attorney General William Sorrell - pending the completion of his investigation of Stenger and Quiros. As such, the “pertinent” stuff would be preserved, Shumlin insisted.

Sorrell, who brings his own sordid past to the conversation, is notoriously anti-transparent. Naturally, he rejected all media calls to release Shumlin EB-5 emails. As he always does, he said it would jeopardize his “investigation” (as though he’s going to find anything the SEC didn’t in their farcical multi-year probe).

Yesterday Representative Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, introduced a House resolution asking Shumlin to deliver the emails to a committee by May 1.

“I agree with a whole lot of Vermonters that something seems very fishy here,” Pearson told Seven Days. “But I’m not asserting anything. I’m saying: Show us the emails and prove it to us.”

Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said Pearson is grandstanding. If the House is so committed to “open records,” Coriell asks, then how come members always resist efforts to make their own emails available to the public?

That’s a totally legit question and one that gets right to the heart of our position.

We think ALL Shumlin emails - including the ones Sorrell is “protecting” - should be made immediately public. So too should those of our legislators, and anyone else who serves the public. That would be in keeping of Article Six of Vermont’s Constitution “That all power being originally inherent in and consequently derived from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times, in a legal way, accountable to them.”

Both Shumlin and MacLean tell the media they’re on board. Political creatures have an innate understanding that the overwhelming appearance of impropriety can be as bad as impropriety itself.



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