High-profile Montana Senate race has Republicans call out Democratic support of Chinese EB-5 investment — despite their own Chinese ties

  • Written by GCBI Team Posted on October 16, 2020 | Updated on October 16, 2020 | 2 min read

In a battle that may impact control of the Senate, Republicans are attacking Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who has entered the Senate race, for encouraging Chinese EB-5 investment. However, his Republican opponent, incumbent Steve Daines, has also solicited Chinese EB-5 investment — and taken campaign contributions from the founder of a firm that attracts Chinese EB-5 investors.

With an election almost here and a Republican-led task force looking to investigate the threat China poses to U.S. economic and political security, it’s little wonder that anti-Chinese rhetoric has now found EB-5 as a target.

Republicans damn Governor Bullock for his EB-5 involvement

In particular, it’s become a focal point in the Montana Senate race featuring Democratic Governor Steve Bullock and Republican incumbent Steve Daines. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has released a TV commercial that claims Bullock “sold out” to the Chinese, who aim to “steal our intellectual property…and continue to lie about the Coronavirus.” This accusation is in a reference to a video Bullock made soliciting Chinese investment in Montana. 

A Bullock spokesperson claims the video was made to solicit Montana exports, not EB-5 investment. However, the video, uploaded to a social platform by a Chinese immigration firm, has a Chinese caption on it that suggests it was being used (not necessarily with Bullock’s consent) to encourage EB-5 investment. 

Bullock’s proposal to lower EB-5 investment amounts and help struggling areas

Whether or not Bullock’s video was meant to be an EB-5 ad, the Governor has indeed been a supporter of the program — with some notable changes. In his failed 2020 presidential run, he advocated lowering the EB-5 investment level to just $350,000 for projects in high unemployment areas — if the investors agreed to live in that area for 10 years. His reason was to direct capital to struggling areas which need it most, as a way of correcting the “flawed” program.

Daine’s EB-5 connections: EB-5 support rewarded by campaign donations

While the Republicans are eager to call out Bullock for soliciting Chinese investment in Montana and being in favor of EB-5 (even if they don’t address his desire to reform the program), it’s curious, if not hypocritical, to look at Republican incumbent Steve Daine’s track record with the program.

The senator has in the past voted to extend the EB-5 program. And, notably, he has not co-sponsored any bills to reform EB-5. 

More than that, Daines has accepted substantial campaign donations from Brian Su, a principal of a Montana resort built with EB-5 money. Su is SEO and President of Artisan Business Group, a firm that attracts Chinese EB-5 investors. Su has donated over $59,000 to NRSC and Republican candidates and groups.

Daines met with Su at his Montana resort in 2016 to encourage Chinese investment in Montana. The owners of the resort and their spouses donated $32,000 to Daines two days after an EB-5 bill Daines supported passed. Prior to Daines voting for this bill, none of these people had made donations to him.

So while Chinese EB-5 investment is a lightning rod that Republicans are only too happy to bring up during election races, they conveniently forget to mention that members of their own party have not only supported Chinese EB-5 stakeholders, but have been rewarded by them as well.

All is fair in foreign investment love, trade wars, and U.S. elections.

Read the Salon article “Steve Daines got influx of cash after vote to extend an investor visa program “rampant” with fraud”