By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org
ALEXANDRIA – Terry McAuliffe’s effort to press top federal officials on behalf of his troubled electric car company was wider and deeper than previously revealed, emails obtained by Watchdog.org show.
The emails – among McAuliffe and top-level Department of Homeland Security officials – include dire warnings that GreenTech Automotive‘s Mississippi plant would shut down within hours if officials failed to approve foreign investors’ visa applications.
The emails came in a string beginning with McAuliffe, then chairman of GreenTech, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s chief of staff, Noah Kroloff, on Nov. 16, 2012. The subject line: “Further to our conversation today re USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and GreenTech Automotive.”
The emails were obtained from USCIS through the Freedom of Information Act. The agency refused to provide notes of telephone conversations referenced in the emails.
In one email, McAuliffe thanked Kroloff “for taking the time to discuss our concerns regarding the timeliness of USCIS’ review of our investors’ EB-5 petitions.”
“GreenTech relies on funding from EB-5 investors to grow our electric-car business and create jobs in Mississippi. I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide with regard to this matter,” McAuliffe wrote.
McAuliffe registered his concerns five months before his company sued Watchdog. In its April lawsuit, GTA asserted that the EB-5 visa-investor program was not a major funding source, and blamed Watchdog’s news coverage — not delays at USCIS — for damaging relations with investors.
The lawsuit also contended that GreenTech was on track to build neighborhood electric vehicles in Mississippi.
Yet the emails between Kroloff and Assistant DHS Secretary Douglas Smith on Feb. 1 alluded to funding problems at GTA. Smith related that the company threatened a shutdown if EB-5 applications were not approved immediately.
“Any way you can kick Ali (USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas) into gear? If this doesn’t get resolved by COB (close of business) today, the (Mississippi) plant will have to shut down and lay off 100 people on Monday,” Smith wrote to Kroloff.
After he was “looped in,” Mayorkas responded via email the same day, stating, “I cannot weigh in. It would be inappropriate for me to do so.”
Smith responded with a slightly different request: “Ali, it is not about weighing in to tell (USCIS adjudicators) which way to decide, it’s weighing in to get it done one way or another. People have a right to expect we can make a decision faster then [sic] a year.”
Mayorkas testified before a Senate committee earlier this year that he did not put his “thumb on the scale of justice” to help GreenTech.
He did acknowledge meeting privately with McAuliffe to discuss GreenTech’s concerns. Mayorkas said GreenTech and its funding arm, Gulf Coast Funds Management, were among the most persistent complainers about EB-5 processing.
Watchdog has reported that McAuliffe, a well-connected Democratic Party fundraiser now running for governor of Virginia, used various Obama administration officials to get his pleas heard. Gulf Coast is headed by Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s younger brother.
The GreenTech/Gulf Coast cash-for-visa financing currently is the target of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
USCIS spokesman Chris Bentley declined to comment on the emails.
DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard’s email account generated this automatic reply: “Due to the current federal funding hiatus, I will not be able to return emails or telephone calls until I return to duty upon conclusion of the funding hiatus.”
Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at [email protected] or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
- VA: As he runs for governor, McAuliffe wheels and deals electric cars in Mississippi
- VA: Media echo Watchdog exclusive on McAuliffe’s electric car maneuvers
- No news here: PolitFact brands Terry McAuliffe’s electric-car claim ‘false’
- Experts question source of McAuliffe car-company funding
- Terry McAuliffe on business ventures: ‘Some work, some don’t’
- How McAuliffe’s car company failed the Virginia test, landed in Mississippi
- Virginia official wants probe of McAuliffe company ‘visa-for-sale’ program
- McAuliffe car company sues Watchdog in libel claim
- Barack Obama’s GreenTech connection: Rick Wade
- Silence, secrecy, cops follow GreenTech’s China deal
- McAuliffe hones China’s crony-capitalism model in U.S.
- Promises keep Tunica County afloat
- McAuliffe company’s China hook-up: Will it work?
- McAuliffe car lags in Domino’s delivery
- McAuliffe car co. parent in off-shore tax shelter
- Lawmaker gives feds one more week for EB-5 answers
- Bolling: McAuliffe’s Mississippi package ‘attractive’
- Inside, execs knew McAuliffe plan had ‘substantial risk’
- Union darling McAuliffe and his non-union car company
- Did Clinton aid the birth of ‘McAuliffe’ car company?
- McAuliffe feels heat over GreenTech resignation
- TV report: One year later, ‘party is over’ at GreenTech
- Months after he said he left company, McAuliffe kept talking GreenTech
- Clinton connection: More money for McAuliffe
- Terry McAuliffe used loophole to avoid key SEC oversight of his car company
- VA officials: McAuliffe green car more politics than biz
- McAuliffe car company announces it’s ready to roll — again
- Before Watchdog, McAuliffe blamed federal officials for money trouble
- McAuliffe gets cash from GreenTech exec, board members
- Watchdog report on McAuliffe spurs FOI request to Homeland Security
- McAuliffe leaves GreenTech questions hanging at debate
- Totally wired: McAuliffe went to Napolitano to expedite company funding
- McAuliffe bragged about GreenTech’s cash position while begging feds for faster processing of ‘cash for visas’
- Investigation targets Homeland official’s relationship to McAuliffe company
- Even before news of federal probe, McAuliffe ducked GreenTech questions
- McAuliffe company pressed Homeland official on 81 investor visas
- Rodham company sought visa for controversial Chinese exec
- Immigration official says he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for foreign investors
- Whiners: Mayorkas says Gulf Coast ‘continues to complain’
- VIDEO: Ex-GreenTech employee says little happened at Horn Lake plant
- Online ad to Terry McAuliffe: Drop your lawsuit
- National security on ‘hold’: Lawmakers press McAuliffe for answers
- Citizens United documentary film delves into McAuliffe, GreenTech
- VIDEO: Terry McAuliffe’s 15 million-square-foot car plant … in China
- Feds call McAuliffe car company’s use of investment program ‘possible fraud’
- GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide
- GOP legislators call for McAuliffe to answer GreenTech questions
- McAuliffe ‘desperate’ over documentary, Citizens United says
- GreenTech weighed Fisker-style federal loan
- Group tells Terry: Follow ‘McAuliffe Standard’ on disclosure
- Car and Driver races into GreenTech controversy
- Congressman: McAuliffe owes Virginians explanation about White House meeting
- Feds loosen oversight as McAuliffe car company makes mysterious management change
- GreenTech execs use Times and ABC to throw McAuliffe under the (non-electric) bus
- Aide in union contribution swap hosts California fund-raiser for McAuliffe
- Despite denials, docs show McAuliffe company asked feds to fast-track visa for investor tied to spy list
- Former Democrat Party director was on GreenTech payroll
- More bad news for McAuliffe car company as GreenTech China venture stalls
- Clinton Foundation posts deficits on McAuliffe’s watch
- VIDEO: GreenTech record dogs McAuliffe at energy forum
- Auto industry expert labels McAuliffe electric car ‘preposterous’
- Democratic leaders have their own Bain pain in Mideast private equity deal
- Hillary PAC adviser served as GreenTech spokeswoman
- New emails add evidence McAuliffe pressed U.S. officials to approve GreenTech funding
- After endorsement, Post shrinks facts to cover Terry McAuliffe
- Ties that bind: Following the McAuliffe-Clinton money trail
- McAuliffe tilts at windmills; Chinese venture goes bust
- Federal investigations cast shadow over McAuliffe on Election Day
- DHS inspector over GreenTech-McAuliffe case is under investigation
- McAuliffe names former GreenTech employee secretary of commonwealth
- McAuliffe lawyers, accountants sort GreenTech stock amid federal investigations
- Nuking filibusters, Dems clear way for Mayorkas at Homeland Security
- U.S. judge hands Watchdog a victory over VA governor’s green-car company
- Attorney: McAuliffe is ‘100 percent divested’ of GreenTech
- Investigation finds Mayorkas used visa program to help White House allies
- Criminal investigation sought in McAuliffe-Mayorkas dealings