Two weeks ago, we brought an emerging "visa for sale" scandal to your attention, laying out how its somewhat byzantine intricacies may infect the Obama White House, the Clinton camp, and Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. One week later, McAuliffe's headache became a migrane. News reports have revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating a "green" automotive company McAuliffe co-founded, from which he abruptly resigned earlier this year. The basis of the probe? Alleged improprieties connected to soliciting loans in exchange for "EB-5" foreign investor US entry visas. Watchdog.org sounded the alarm on this story back in April, prompting what increasingly looks like a frivolous lawsuit intended to muzzle investigative journalism. Whether GreenTech automotive loses their dubious suit may now be the least of McAuliffe's problems, via the Washington Post:
An electric-car company co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its conduct in soliciting foreign investors, according to law enforcement documents and company officials. In May, the SEC subpoenaed documents from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company “guarantees returns” to the investors, according to government documents. GreenTech has sought overseas investors through a federal program that allows foreigners to gain special visas if they contribute at least $500,000 to create U.S. jobs. Gulf Coast, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeks investors for GreenTech and arranges the visas. In recent months, the SEC has stepped up its scrutiny of companies that use the visa program, largely over concerns that investors may have been misled or defrauded by the companies seeking their money. The visa program has also raised national security concerns from some lawmakers worried that suspect individuals are using it to gain entry into the country...
And then there's this:
Aside from the SEC investigation, the newly obtained documents show greater communication between McAuliffe, Rodham and DHS officials than was previously known, as well as concern over a potential GreenTech investor tied to a Chinese firm that has raised national security concerns. The documents counter the impression left last week by a top U.S. immigration official, Alejandro Mayorkas, who testified in front of a Senate panel that he met with McAuliffe on one occasion, “and that was the extent of the interaction.”The documents show that Mayorkas and other senior DHS officials had a dozen e-mail and telephone contacts with McAuliffe, Rodham, and other representatives of GreenTech and Gulf Coast. Mayorkas, who has been nominated to be second-in-command at DHS, is under investigation by the agency’s inspector general for allegedly providing special treatment for GreenTech.
It's almost as if this top Obama nominee, Hillary Clinton's brother, and the Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia haven't been entirely forthcoming about their lucrative back-scratching. One of the troubling accusations associated with this controversy is that certain DHS officials actively sought to obstruct SEC scrutiny of the visa program in question. It seems the commission's investigators weren't deterred. The Post explains why these developments are likely to pose new risks to McAuliffe's campaign, summarizing GreenTech's checkered history:
The new issues surrounding GreenTech are likely to create fresh political problems for McAuliffe, who launched the company after his failed 2009 bid for governor in part to burnish his credentials as a businessman and job creator. McAuliffe initially pledged to build a factory “right in the heart of Virginia,” but the company instead set up shop in Mississippi after getting generous incentives from that state and local governments...McAuliffe said last year that he thought GreenTech could build 10,000 cars in 2013. A fraction of that number has been built, and McAuliffe rarely mentions the company on the campaign trail. The company’s struggles, its reliance on foreign investors and government help, and its location have become regular lines of attack by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli...
"A fraction" may be a generous characterization, both in terms of jobs created and cars built. The Cuccinelli campaign and Republican Governors Association are up on the air with new ads drawing attention to McAuliffe's ethical morass:
At a recent debate, McAuliffe attempted to yoke Cuccinelli to Gov. Bob McDonnell's disappointing ethics issues (which have hurt, but not tanked, his favorability ratings in the state), leveling a charge that independent fact-checkers immediately rejected as false. Now the cloud of scandal hanging over the Democrat's campaign is darkening. Polling of the race has yielded mixed results, with many Virginia voters expressing ambivalence about their choices -- which may not be a great surprise. I'll leave you with this clip, which the Team Cuccinelli released this past spring:
McAuliffe still hasn't lived up to to the standard to which he and other Democrats held Mitt Romney way back in aught-twelve.