Start-Up Visa Bill Starts Trouble

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The Carolyn Maloney campaign seemed none too pleased that the Congresswoman"s primary challenger was taking credit for a proposal to ease restrictions on foreigners who want to start a company in America.

Reshma Saujani, a former hedge fund attorney, wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post April 20 calling for a “Start Up Visa program to allow immigrant entrepreneurs to start companies in the U.S.

Maloney announced April 29 that she is introducing the StartUp Visa Act of 2010, modeled after a Feb. 24 Senate bill.
Saujani, at a recent summit on tech start-ups, noted that Maloney had introduced the bill based on her idea.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Photo by Andrew Schwartz.

Saujani"s campaign is focusing on entrepreneurship, start-ups and innovation, criticizing Maloney for doing little to bring new jobs from the tech sector into the district.

Maloney"s campaign in turn accused the political newcomer of stealing the Congresswoman"s ideas. George Arzt, a campaign spokesperson, said Maloney worked with Sen. John Kerry on the bill and wrote an April 7 letter to her colleagues about introducing the legislation in the House.

House hopeful Reshma Saujani.

“Congresswoman Maloney was working on StartUp Visas with Senator Kerry long before Ms. Saujani mentioned the idea in her Huffington Post article, said Maloney"s campaign spokesperson George Arzt. “While she continues to push this false claim, the facts are clear.

But the Saujani campaign says the idea was posted on her website in December 2009, and that she had talked about the visa proposal in a Feb. 19 interview with an Indian news publication. Her Huffington Post op-ed was in response to the strict illegal immigration legislation that the Arizona Legislature had recently passed.

“Reshma has been talking about the need for “Start-up Visas” — among other changes to the visa system — since the start of her campaign, before the Kerry/Lugar bill was introduced and months before Carolyn Maloney was even talking about the issue,” said campaign spokesperson James Allen. ” Reshma is proud of the new, innovative proposals she has offered, and hopes Carolyn Maloney will continue to introduce them as legislation in Congress.”

Sam Hamadeh, a Saujani supporter in Gramercy, hosted a fundraiser for the candidate in January where these visas were discussed.

“I believe that, in general, New York needs to become more of a center for entrepreneurship, that ecosystem that exist in Silicon Valley, said Hamadeh, the founder of Vault.com, a career website. “Reshma has been speaking about this from day one of the campaign, no question. The fact [Maloney] would come out now start discussing this is a little coincidental.

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