“About two months after individual SLS investors started filing petitions, USCIS began receiving congressional inquiries about the petitions. On December 5, 2012, a member of Senator Harry Reid’s staff emailed USCIS’ Office of Legislative Affairs asking whether USCIS could expedite processing of the SLS investor petitions. By granting expedited processing, SLS petitions would move ahead of previously filed petitions,” the DHS IG’s report found.
“Senator Reid’s staff member asserted that the SLS investor petitions needed expedited processing because the terms of the bank financing for SLS required that 10 percent of all visas for the project be approved by mid-January 2013. Failure to do so would result in losing the financing for the project. At that time, 25 investor petitions had been submitted, with an additional 205 to follow,” the report said.
But DHS staffers bristled at the Senator’s interventions and application of political pressure. Their process is supposed to ensure that the foreign investors who receive approval for the EB-5 visa program have the kind of background that makes them likely candidates to be solid American citizens eventually.
“The staff member indicated that the project had already received a number of local government permits for construction, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, which would expire in January. The staff member forwarded correspondence to USCIS from LVRC claiming that submission of the SLS petitions had been delayed because of potential changes to USCIS’ policy on tenant occupancy,” the report noted.
But despite their protests, Harry Reid’s political pressure, applied to them through the then-director of the USCIS, Mr. Mayorkas, continued.
“USCIS employees complained that, in January 2013, after speaking with U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Mr. Mayorkas personally directed that USCIS expedite processing of investor petitions related to the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (SLS) even though, in the staff’s view, there was no basis for expediting the petitions,” the Inspector General wrote.
Not only did Mayorkas hold DHS employees to account, Senator Reid held Mayorkas to account as well.
“We were told that, during a January 8, 2013, phone call with Senator Reid, Mr. Mayorkas agreed to provide ‘regular’ weekly updates on the status of the SLS petitions. Staff described providing updates to members of Congress as routine, but not ‘down to that level and degree’ as with the SLS case. According to one senior EB-5 official, from January through July 2013, they were asked to provide weekly updates on the status of the SLS petitions to the Office of Legislative Affairs; these updates purportedly went to Senator Reid’s office,” the authors of the report wrote.
The political pressure continued throughout 2013.
“On January 31, 2013, Mr. Mayorkas had a teleconference with Senator Reid’s staff. Afterward, Reid’s staff expressed appreciation to USCIS officials that Mr. Mayorkas ‘took the time to call us personally, even though it was to deliver bad news.’ The ‘bad news’ appeared to be that the substantive issues could not be resolved by February 4, 2013,” the report stated.
Apparently, a sufficient number of EB-5 visas were approved in time to satisfy the banks, the owners of SLS, and Senator Reid. But the pressure continued.
“Mr. Mayorkas stated in his interview that he did not recall agreeing to provide Senator Reid with weekly updates on the status of the SLS petitions. When told we had been informed that weekly updates had been provided for six months, Mr. Mayorkas said that sounded ‘ridiculous.’ More than three months after the decision to expedite the SLS petitions, Mr. Mayorkas’ calendar listed a meeting with Senator Reid on May 6, 2013, in which he was advised that the ‘SLS expedite’ was one of the topics,” the report found.
By February 2014, all the EB-5 visas had been approved, the $115 million of low cost junior debt had been raised and construction on the SLS Hotel and Casino began.
SLS Hotel and Casino opened its doors in August 2014.
Breitbart News asked SBE Entertainment, StockBridge Capital, and JP Morgan for comment but has not received a response.
They may not be eager to answer some of the questions Breitbart News posed to them:
(1) Who were the 230 EB-5 investors that invested $115 million in the low cost junior debt that financed the SLS Hotel and Casino?
(2) Were all of these foreign investors properly vetted or do some of them present security threats to the United States?
(3) Who were the investors in the $300 million “first lien” debt financing and did any of them contribute to Harry Reid?
One thing is clear from these recent revelations about the Senate Minority Leader’s application of brute political force upon the executive branch of the federal government: Harry Reid may represent as great a threat to the rule of law in the United States of America as does President Barack Obama.
Sam Nazarian is the founder of the SBE Entertainment Group, and Younes Nazarian’s son.
Note: Younes Nazarianis Sam Nazarian’s father, and a board member for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Marvin Josephsonwas the chairman for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and is an overseer for the International Rescue Committee.
Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the International Rescue Committee, and theAspen Institute (think tank).
George Soros was the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society.
ONE Campaign is a partner with the International Rescue Committee.
Susan McCue was the founding president & CEO for the ONE Campaign, Harry Reid’schief of staff, and is a trustee at the Third Way.
Michelle Obama is an advocate for the ONE Campaign, and was a lawyer at Sidley Austin LLP.
William M. Daley is a trustee at the Third Way, a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and was the chief of staff for the Barack Obama administration.
Sidley Austin LLP is the lobby firm for Israel.
Barack Obama was an intern at Sidley Austin LLP.
R. Eden Martin is counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, and the president of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Newton N. Minow is a senior counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and the president of the Crown Family Foundation.
Commercial Club of Chicago, Members Directory A-Z (Past Research)
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
James S. Crown is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and a trustee at the Aspen Institute (think tank).
Lester Crownwas a lifetime trustee at the Aspen Institute (think tank), is the VP for the Crown Family Foundation, and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Crown Family Foundation is a funder for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Kathleen L. Brownis a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and was an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas was an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and is the deputy secretary at theU.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Thomas E. Donilonis a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, was the White House deputy national security adviser for the Barack Obama administration, a trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), a director at the American Friends of Bilderberg (think tank), and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
Saban Center for Middle East Policy is a policy center at the Brookings Institution (think tank).
Haim Saban is a benefactor for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), the treasurer for the Saban Family Foundation, a board member for theFriends of the Israel Defense Forces, and a friend of Shimon Peres.
Saban Family Foundation was a funder for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Crown Family Foundation is a funder for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Younes Nazarianis a board member for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and Sam Nazarian’sfather.
Sam Nazarian is Younes Nazarian’sson, and the founder of the SBE Entertainment Group.
Shimon Peres is a friend of Haim Saban, and the president of Israel.
Daniel B. Shapirois the U.S. ambassador for Israel, and was Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislative assistant.
Dianne Feinstein’s legislative assistant was Daniel B. Shapiro, is a U.S. Senatesenator, and married toRichard C. Blum.
Richard C. Blum is married to Dianne Feinstein, an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), and a regent at the University of California.
Janet A. Napolitano is the president for the University of California, and the secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for the Barack Obama administration.
George M. Marcus was a regent at the University of California, and is the founder & chairman ofMarcus & Millichap.
Scott Louis Weber was a senior counselor to the secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a partner at Patton Boggs LLP.
Patton Boggs LLPis the lobby firm for Las Vegas (NV).