A cloaked investment company is buying large amounts of land surrounding a California Air Force base, but nobody knows who owns it or their intent.
The firm, Flannery Associates, is registered as an agricultural company, but the land it has acquired is dry and would take decades to turn a profit at the prices the firm has been paying.
Flannery has bought $800.000 million worth of land immediately around Travis Air Force Base in California’s Solano County, which is situated midway between Sacramento and San Francisco.
It drew the attention of lawmakers in May when it filed a lawsuit against a group of landowning farmers, accusing them of conspiring to inflate the value of their property.
Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Hill he has been investigating the land purchases for over two years but has no answers to show for it.
“We have no idea who they are,” Garamendi said. “Flannery Associates is opaque. We have no idea where the nearly $900 million dollars has come from. They bought well over 55,000 acres of land in the area and [the purchase] raises a major concern.”
Suspicions of Shadowy Chinese Actors
Garamendi is also concerned about the investment firm’s intention, as fears of Chinese businesses acquiring land near American military sites has grown lately.
He said the Air Force’s Foreign Investment Risk Review office is looking into the purchases from Flannery, as well as the FBI and Treasury Department.
This year alone, legislators in over two dozen states have debated legislation to restrict Chinese purchases of US farmland.
In one case, the Air Force objected to a planned sale of farmland around North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base to Chinese-owned firm Fufeng. A local council ultimately voted to block the acquisition.
Former President Donald Trump has similarly pledged to ban Chinese investors from purchasing US farmland and land around other critical infrastructure sites if he is reelected.