By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA – The Washington Post, which endorsed Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor last Sunday, says it would be “a stretch” to say the Democrat is under investigation for his dealings at GreenTech Automotive.
The newspaper’s Fact Check column on Thursday questioned GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s assertion that “There’s only one candidate under investigation: Terry McAuliffe.”
The Post’s verdict? “From what is publicly known, there are no federal inquiries directly into McAuliffe’s conduct.”
That ruling seems self-servingly narrow, bordering on the naïve.
McAuliffe did not hesitate to boast about “buying a Chinese company and bringing it over here” to build cars and create jobs. When production didn’t match projections, and federal investigators showed up, McAuliffe ran the other way. By April, he said he knew nothing, and GTA announced that he had actually resigned in December.
The Post’s Fact Check acknowledged that “federal inquiries are ongoing into GreenTech on two fronts.” It notes that the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into “alleged claims” that the company sought to “guarantee returns” to foreign-national investors who pay $500,000 for U.S. visas through a federal EB-5 program.
These facts were reported by the Post itself on Aug. 2.
Watchdog.org reported on the investigations by the SEC and the Department of Homeland Security, and uncovered a “promissory note” among GreenTech documents.
The promissory note, bearing the GreenTech logo, is problematic for the company, and then-Chairman McAuliffe, because it guarantees repayment to investors. That guarantee violates conditions of the EB-5 program that say investors’ money must be “at risk.”
Watchdog reporting also has revealed that, contrary to his more recent assertions, McAuliffe was intimately involved in managing the company he co-founded. Testifying before Congress, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said McAuliffe repeatedly asked him to approve GTA’s visa applications.
Watchdog also reported that McAuliffe personally reached out to other top Obama administration officials — from the White House to Homeland Security — while he chaired the electric car company.
Officials from GreenTech and its sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management, say the SEC subpoenaed corporate records and bank documents in May, around the time Watchdog revealed the promissory note.
A spokesman for McAuliffe’s campaign told the Post that the Democrat — who co-founded GreenTech, is its largest shareholder and now holds the title of “chairman emeritus” — had “no knowledge of any investigation.”
By now, McAuliffe certainly does.
Tim Miller, president of the conservative group America Rising, called the Fact Check analysis “a joke.”
“As chairman of GreenTech, Terry McAuliffe is responsible for the company’s conduct during his tenure, and as the Washington Post itself has reported the company is subject to two federal investigations for its conduct during that time,” Miller said.
Former commonwealth attorney Tom Garrett, a GOP state senator from Louisa County, summed up the Post’s verdict in one word: “Ridiculous.”
GreenTech sued Watchdog in April, alleging that its reporting had damaged investor relations. The $85 million lawsuit is pending in a Mississippi court.
Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
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