The US government's Inspectors General have been mighty busy lately. Whereas the IRS, DOJ and Benghazi scandals can all be succinctly summarized in a sentence or two, this latest emerging story cannot -- which is why it may lack the legs to really blow up. Nevertheless, a newly-revealed investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General may cause some heartburn for the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia. I discussed the controversy on Fox News this afternoon:
As I indicated in the clip, there are a lot of moving parts to this story: President Obama's pick to become the second-highest official at DHS -- and who would run the department until Janet Napolitano's replacement arrives -- is named Alejandro Mayorkas. He is the target of an Inspector General investigation prompted by allegations from whistleblowers that he improperly intervened to help foreign nationals obtain investor or "EB-5" visas. The idea behind this visa program is to encourage and welcome wealthy foreigners who commit to investing in American companies with the promise of creating American jobs. EB-5s entitle visa-holders to legal status, and an expedited path to permanent legal residence. This makes good economic sense, so long as the visa recipients are properly vetted, deemed to be legitimate, and cleared as not detrimental to national security. In this case, the applicant in question was a Chinese businessman whose request was initially denied by the US government, then blocked again on appeal. In short, the vetting process worked, and a potentially problematic visa was withheld.
That's when Mayorkas stepped in, allegedly abusing his influence within DHS in an attempt to bypass the government's denial of entry to the Chinese investor. His power-play reportedly benefited a conduit company called Gulf Coast Funds Management, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the youngest brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Gulf Coast is also the funding arm of a floundering car company called GreenTech Auto, which until recently was chaired by Terry McAuliffe -- a longtime Clinton confidante, and Virginia Democrats' nominee for governor. Part of the knock on McAuliffe is that GreenTech put its roots down in Mississippi rather than Virginia. The fact is that Virginia officials took a pass on McAuliffe's company because they were concerned that its business model relied too heavily on "a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications." GreenTech auto has since sputtered, failing to meet McAuliffe's promises to create jobs and build clean-energy cars. There's another layer to potential DHS malfeasance -- an apparent cover-up:
According to the Inspector General's email, the investigation of the investor visa program also includes allegations that other [DHS] USCIS Office of General Counsel officials obstructed an audit of the visa program by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The email did not name any specific official from the general counsel's office.
This wouldn't be the first example of an Obama-era executive department working to quash unhelpful independent investigations into the behavior of its personnel. This isn't Mr. Mayorkas' first brush with political controversy. In the 1990's he used his position as a US Attorney to lobby the Clinton White House to pardon a drug dealer, the father of whom was a major Democratic donor. The Obama nominee has since apologized for that "mistake," but if the current IG's probe confirms DHS whistleblower allegations, it would appear that Mayorkas didn't learn his lesson about influence peddling. It would also appear that President Obama has selected a tainted candidate for a critical national security position. Was the White House vetting team ignorant of these allegations of impropriety, or did they not care? One final note on this: The team at WatchDog.org first reported factual information about Virginia's concerns over GreenTech's "visa-for-sale scheme." In retaliation, McAuliffe's now-former company filed an intimidation lawsuit against Watchdog, seeking a ridiculous $85 million in damages. The suit was bunk to begin with; recent revelations stack the deck even further against the failed auto company and its embattled money men at Gulf Coast Funds Management.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography