The U.S. Air Force and Treasury Department are investigating a major land acquisition near Travis Air Force Base after a mysterious company bought up much of the land around it.

Since 2018, investment firm Flannery Associates LLC has been buying up nearly $1 billion in land in Solano County, California, where Travis Air Force Base is located. The Wall Street Journal originally reported on the $800 million land acquisitions in July, with local officials saying they could not find out what the firm’s plans for the land were. Local Congressman John Garamendi, who represents California’s 8th District, has been vocal in the past month about the lack of transparency behind the company.  

Now CNN reports that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency group led by the Treasury Department, is now reviewing the land sale. CNN, citing several unnamed sources, said that the CFIUS is looking into any possible national security concern tied to the purchases.

Travis Air Force Base is a few miles from the city of Fairfield, California, but is essentially surrounded by agricultural land — land that is now owned by Flannery Associates. Garamendi told CNN that the investment firm now owns land going “right at the fence line with Travis Air Force Base, on three sides of the fence.”

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In two separate statements to Task & Purpose last month, the 60th Air Mobility Wing, based at Travis AFB, confirmed that the Air Force was reviewing the land sales. On July 25, the 60th Air Mobility Wing said it “can confirm that base senior officials are aware of this land acquisition and are actively supporting all involved federal and Solano County agencies. We are unable to provide any specific information regarding land acquisition outside installation property.”

A day later the 60th Air Mobility Wing told Task & Purpose “[i]nstallation security is a top priority for the Air Force. We are unable to provide any specific information but are actively supporting all federal and local agencies that deal with land acquisition.”

Flannery Associates, which has its headquarters listed in Delaware, is not required to disclose its investors’ identities. It previously told the Wall Street Journal that 97 percent of its investors are American, with the remainder from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The firm has not said what it plans to do with the land.

Travis Air Force Base is the largest employer in Solano County. 

In May the Treasury Department proposed a new rule to require foreign companies or individuals to get U.S. government approval before any land sale could be completed if the land was within 100 miles of a military installation. Under the new rule, CFIUS would have additional powers and could block sales. The proposal was made after the Chinese firm the Fufeng Group bought 370 acres of land near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. It planned on building a $700 million corn milling plant, but that was nixed after the Grand Forks City Council voted to end the development deal. 

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