After a mysterious company suddenly made a nearly billion-dollar purchase of farmland surrounding an air base in California, some in Congress are sounding the alarm over national security concerns.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, over 52,000 acres worth of land in Solano County was purchased for $800 million; the land surrounds Travis Air Force Base. The purchase was made by a company called Flannery Associates, with a company attorney claiming that it is registered in Delaware and controlled by U.S. citizens, receiving at least 97 percent of its capital from American investors, with the remaining 3 percent from Irish and British investors. Nevertheless, the company’s low profile and sudden mass purchase of such strategically significant land has raised alarms in Congress.
“What is this all about?” asked Congressman John Garamendi (D-Calif.). “Why is an unknown, non-communicative secret organization buying up all the land around Travis Air Force Base?”
The base is located in Garamendi’s district, District 8, although at least one investor involved in the project has since claimed that the purchase has no connections to China or national security. An attorney for the company denounced any “speculation” about the purchase being “motivated by the proximity to Travis Air Force Base” as unfounded.
“There’s no shortage of rumors of what may or may not be happening,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), another congressman whose district also includes portions of Solano County. “We just don’t know.”
In recent years, various foreign-owned companies have attempted to buy land in close proximity to military bases and other strategic assets in states such as North Dakota and Texas, with the culprits most often being Chinese. Two states, Montana and Florida, have since enacted legislation banning future Chinese purchases of American land, while similar bills are being considered by Texas and Alabama.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) banning purchases of American farmland by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea; the measure passed with 91 votes in favor and only 7 votes against.