An Obama ally embroiled in a corruption scandal as a big-city mayor is using a controversial foreign visa program determined by Homeland Security officials to be plagued with “crippling fraud and national security vulnerabilities” to raise millions of dollars for his company. Hundreds of foreigners, mainly from China, are expected to bankroll a skyscraper project via the EB-5 program that provides visas and a path to American citizenship for foreign nationals that invest $1 million in the U.S.
In this case, former longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his son are asking the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to let them solicit $150 million from foreign investors by using the EB-5 visa program. Chicago’s conservative newspaper published an investigative piece this week after obtaining hundreds of pages of government records. Though the documents were “heavily redacted,” there was enough information to cause alarm, especially after connecting the dots between the president and the disgraced former mayor. During Daley’s tenure more than 30 city workers, including two senior administrators close to the mayor, and contractors got federally indicated for taking bribes. A dozen cabinet-level officials also resigned in the fiasco.
When Obama became president, he hired some of Daley’s top people, including David Axelrod, who was the Chicago mayor’s chief consultant, and Valerie Jarrett, his former deputy chief of staff. In his ill-fated effort to bring the 2016 Olympics to his adopted hometown of Chicago, Obama deployed Jarrett, a senior White House advisor, to the Windy City to work out the details with Daley. Judicial Watch investigated the scandal and had to sue to uncover records involving the president’s costly plan to bring the Olympics to Chicago. This included a trip to Copenhagen by Obama and his wife to appeal to the International Olympic Committee to give Chicago the bid that went to Rio de Janeiro. Four years and millions of dollars in planning came to an abrupt halt in the Windy City, where local leaders—including Daley—and politically-connected business owners were banking on Obama’s star power to bring the games home.
Now we have Daley, a powerful figure in the Democratic Party and Chicago’s longest serving mayor (the city has no term limits so he served 22 years), using his political connections to benefit his private business. The company seeking to lure foreign investors with U.S. visas is called Tur Partners and Daley owns it with his son Patrick. The records obtained by the Chicago newspaper say the father-and-son conglomerate wants to build a downtown skyscraper and their DHS application was submitted on September 22, 2015. The application shows that each would put up half a million dollars for the skyscraper project and pay a $50,000 administrative fee that would bring the Daleys’ company $15 million, the article states. “In return, the foreigners would be eligible to be granted visas allowing them and their immediate families to move to the United States and live here forever,” the story says. Of interesting note is that the Daleys will also collect an additional $50,000 from each investor to “cover the costs of offering migration services and marketing fees.”
The shady Daley project comes to light following a series of widespread problems surrounding the EB-5 visa program, which was created more than two decades ago to ignite economic development in rural areas and has come under bipartisan attack in recent years. Just last month a U.S. senator who sits on the Judiciary Committee reminded Congress that years ago an interagency working group consisting of DHS and other federal agencies with national security responsibilities recommended discontinuing the EB-5 visa program. The panel cited “rampant exploitation” in the program as well as “widespread fraud and national security concerns.” Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, has determined that the EB-5 visa program is susceptible to fraud and that its economic benefits are questionable.
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