The Columbia Tribune this weekend published two more articles that further erode what’s left of Jay Nixon’s credibility on economic development issues in general and Mamtek in particular.
The first piece describes the haste with which the Nixon administration acted to begin protecting Nixon’s image after the Mamtek deal collapsed—painting the picture of a governor more concerned about deflecting blame than creating jobs or salvaging a deal that he personally touted one year earlier.
The second article contains several explosive revelations, including the fact that Mamtek was just a small amount of paperwork away from receiving millions in state money only weeks before their collapse. The story confirms yet again that the Nixon administration was aggressively pitching the project to Missouri cities with its stamp of approval. Finally, the story also shows the Nixon administration hard at work trying to deflect blame. In fact, one internal email from an EcoDevo employee claims that “Director Kerr has distanced us from the project. We have no liability for this project.”
These are just the latest in a series of devastating revelations about the failure of the Nixon administration to vet the project before committing taxpayer money and Nixon’s desperate attempts to shift blame for the collapse away from himself.
For those of you keeping score at home:
* “A bit sketchy:” The city of Bismarck, ND, was offered the project, but local EcoDevo officials passed because the company failed to provide “verifiable financial information” or “a sound business plan.” North Dakota officials publicly called the project “a bit sketchy.”
* No due diligence: The Mamtek deal was closed in an extraordinarily short 73 days—significantly shorter than the 5-6 months a deal such as this normally takes to be closed—which suggests that the process was rushed and normal due diligence procedures were ignored. In fact, emails reveal that the state did not begin to do due diligence into the project until a year after the Gov Nixon made the announcement—but their vetting was way too little and way too late.
* Past financial troubles: The Nixon administration failed to uncover the troubled financial past of Mamtek’s CEO, Bruce Cole, who had more than $400,000 is civil judgment liens against him. During the past 15 years, Cole also had state (California) and federal tax liens against him amounting to $33,000.
* No Chinese facility: A report from the Post-Dispatch suggested that there may be no Mamtek facility in the Fujian Provence of China, as company officials publicly claimed.
* An immigration scam: The Columbia Tribune reported that the Mamtek project was likely a scam set up to exploit a loophole in immigration law and allow wealthy Chinese investors a chance to buy American citizenship.
* State assurances: Contrary to the Nixon administration’s early claims that the city of Moberly pitched the Mamtek project to the state, they were forced to admit that it was in fact the state who pitched the project to the cities. Given the state’s seal of approval of the project, it’s no wonder Moberly committed nearly $40 million in bonds to land the company.
* Buck-passing: When questioned about the Mamtek debacle, Nixon desperately claimed “I don’t run the Department of Economic Development.”