By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As Virginians head to the polls Tuesday, a darkening cloud of federal investigations hangs over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
The inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are conducting separate inquiries into actions involving McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive company and its use of a federal investor-visa program.
The investigations, which began last spring after Watchdog.org started digging into McAuliffe’s activities, target U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Gulf Coast Funds Management, GreenTech’s fundraising arm.
“Voters should be aware that the two investigations around GreenTech and Gulf Coast may well cripple a McAuliffe administration, as well as the commonwealth’s credibility and ability to move forward,” Virginia state Sen. Tom Garrett told Watchdog last week.
“Literally, from day one, a pall would hang over a McAuliffe administration and over Virginia’s executive branch. Simply put, it would be bad for business,” said Garrett, a Republican and former Louisa County prosecutor.
President Obama’s nomination of Mayorkas to be deputy secretary of DHS has stalled while investigators look into the director’s role in expediting EB-5 investor-visa applications submitted by Gulf Coast on behalf of GreenTech.
Testifying at the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Mayorkas acknowledged he met several times with McAuliffe, who complained about the pace of EB-5 approvals by USCIS.
Mayorkas maintains he did nothing improper. “I never put my thumb on the scale of justice” to help GreenTech, he said.
But whistleblowers inside USCIS say they were pressured to “get to yes” and approve visas for foreign applicants who had invested $500,000 in GreenTech, McAuliffe’s electric car company.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, recited a series of allegations in letters last month to then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Inspector General Richard Skinner.
The letters followed specific concerns Grassley expressed to Mayorkas in a July 24 email that quoted findings of “fraud/national security holds” on 21 GreenTech applicant investors.
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has requested detailed data about results from the USCIS service center that handles GreenTech-Gulf Coast applications.
McAuliffe — GreenTech’s co-founder and “chairman emeritus” who remains the firm’s biggest stockholder — has not directly commented on the investigations. Company officials said they are complying with investigators’ subpoenas and other requests for information.
Gulf Coast is headed by Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s younger brother. Records show Rodham also solicited assistance from top federal officials, including Vice President Joe Biden.
Both DHS’ inspector general and the SEC have remained mum, standard policy during ongoing investigations.
Garrett, the former commonwealth attorney, says a thorough investigation by the Obama administration’s Justice Department is warranted in the McAuliffe-GreenTech matter.
“You would think that probable cause exists to initiate a (Department of Justice) investigation, but DOJ is so thoroughly politicized under this administration that nothing surprises me.
“Richard Nixon would be very envious, because at least when he was in the White House, federal law enforcement acted independently,” Garrett said.
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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