BREAKING: Steve Daines Caught in EB-5 Visa Pay-to-Play 

Rachel Prevost2020, Daines, News, Republicans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, October 3, 2020

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BREAKING: Steve Daines Caught in EB-5 Visa Pay-to-Play 

Helena, MT –  A damning new report reveals that Senator Steve Daines voted to reauthorize the EB-5 visa program which has been widely “criticized for ‘rampant’ fraud” after meeting with investor Brian Su who advocates for the program. At the invitation of a private equity firm, Daines met with Su and offered “maximum support and assistance” for Chinese investment in Montana. 

Su leads a business group that “helps Chinese investors establish relationships in the U.S., and is a ‘leading authority on EB-5 marketing and promotion.’” Su donated in support of Daines’ campaign around the time of their meeting. After the Senator and Su met, Daines then voted for a clean extension of the EB-5 program without any reforms – despite bipartisan concerns about the program being wrought with “fraud, securities violations, money laundering, investor exploitation and failed projects.” Just two days after Daines’ vote to extend the program, executives at the private equity firm donated nearly $20,000 to Daines.

This continues Daines’ shameful pattern of looking out for his corporate backers who bankroll his campaigns, not hard-working Montanans. 

Highlights:
Salon: Steve Daines got influx of cash after vote to extend an investor visa program “rampant” with fraud
By: Igor Derysh 

“Investor Brian Su, who advocates for EB-5 visas, donated tens of thousands to Daines and other Republicans after Daines voted to extend the program without any reforms to address potential fraud.

Daines reportedly met with Su, a major Republican donor, at the Yellowstone Club at the invitation of CrossHarbor Capital Partners before voting for the extension. He received an influx of donations from the company’s executives two days after the vote.

Daines, who has extensive ties to China, and then-Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., who later served as President Trump’s Interior secretary, met with Su at the Yellowstone Club in 2016 to court Chinese investment in Montana. They promised to provide investors with maximum support and assistance, according to a translation of an article published in the Chinese media outlet Chuansongme.

Su is the founder of the Artisan Business Group, which helps Chinese investors establish relationships in the U.S., and is a “leading authority on EB-5 marketing and promotion.” Su visited the Yellowstone Club at the invitation of CrossHarbor Capital Partners, according to Chuansongme.

Su donated $3,000 to Daines’ Big Sky Committee around the time of the meeting, the only individual contribution on the committee’s September 2016 Federal Election Commission report. Su has donated $6,500 to Daines’ campaign, leadership PAC and super PAC since 2016. He has also donated $10,000 to the Montana Republican Party and more than $59,000 to the NRSC and Republican candidates and political committees.

Su did not respond to questions from Salon.

In September 2016, Daines voted in favor of a spending bill that included an extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program without any reforms.

Daines voted for the bill despite bipartisan opposition from Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who were opposed because the measure failed to implement necessary changes to a program described as “rampant” with fraud. The senators sent a letter to Senate leaders citing “fraud, securities violations, money laundering, investor exploitation and failed projects as evidence of the need for reforms.”

Executives at CrossHarbor Capital Partners and their spouses donated nearly $19,000 to Daines on Sept. 30, two days after the bill passed. William Kremer, the company’s co-founder and managing partner, donated $5,400 to Daines’ campaign. Tracey Byrne, the wife of co-founder Sam Byrne, donated $5,400 as well. Matthew Kidd, the company’s managing director, and his wife Sheena donated another $5,400 to Daines’ campaign. Jay Hart, another managing partner, donated $2,500. The executives and spouses have donated a total of $32,000 to the Zinke Daines Victory Account. None of those people, it appears, had donated to Daines before he voted for the bill.

Daines’ campaign did not respond to questions from Salon.

“Steve Daines has made pay-to-play his trademark in Congress. Instead of focusing on helping his constituents during a pandemic, Daines uses his office to reward his friends and wealthy donors,” Zach Hudson, a spokesman for the Democratic PAC American Bridge, said in a statement to Salon. “Montana families are sick and tired of crooked politicians like Steve Daines doling out favors to the highest bidder.”

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