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DHS inspector over GreenTech-McAuliffe case is under investigation

By   /   November 14, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 69 of 76 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
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HE WANTS ANSWERS: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says “The Office of Inspector General’s work on Mr. Mayorkas and the EB-5 program must be beyond reproach in order to have credibility. The leadership of this particular (IG) office has definitely seen its share of problems.”


By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid “alarms about national security,” the head of the federal office investigating a controversial visa-investor program used by Terry McAuliffe’s company is now himself under congressional investigation.

Charles Edwards, interim inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, faces allegations of misconduct, including misusing official resources and exerting undue influence.

Republican and Democrat lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee have demanded his resignation or firing.

The calls come as Edwards’ office is conducting two investigations into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

AP photo

UNDER REVIEW: Charles Edwards, acting inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, is under congressional investigation.

An audit of USCIS’ handling of the EB-5 visa-investor program — which one senator said “raises alarms about national security” — is expected soon.

That will be followed by a review of USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas’ dealings with EB-5 “regional centers,” including GreenTech Automotive’s Gulf Coast Funds Management, headed by Hillary Clinton’s brother, Anthony Rodham.

Independently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also is investigating Gulf Coast, the funding arm of the electric-car company formerly chaired by McAuliffe, Virginia’s governor-elect.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, fired a shot across the inspector general’s bow this week, telling Watchdog.org:

“The Office of Inspector General’s work on Mr. Mayorkas and the EB-5 program must be beyond reproach in order to have credibility.

“The leadership of this particular (IG) office has definitely seen its share of problems,” said Grassley, the top Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee have stalled President Obama’s nomination of Mayorkas to be deputy secretary of DHS. They say they are awaiting the IG’s findings before voting.

Without naming Mayorkas, Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said he is eager to “expeditiously” confirm additional pending nominees at DHS.

Dan Epstein, executive director Cause of Action, an activist group that calls interactions of McAuliffe’s company with top administration officials “cronyism,” sees political stumbling blocks to removing Edwards as IG.

“As we sit here today, Republicans want a full and fair investigation. But Edwards is the one they are depending on to do the investigation, when he himself is under investigation,” Epstein told WINA radio on Tuesday.

Though Edwards denies the allegations against him, U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., say he must go.

“This summer, we began investigating allegations of misconduct by Charles Edwards. Since then, dozens of whistleblowers have come forward. It is clear at this point that Charles Edwards should resign,” Johnson said.

McCaskill, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, cited reports that Edwards succumbed to political pressure in papering over the 2012 Secret Service scandal involving agents and prostitutes in Colombia. On Wednesday, she expressed frustration at the “inability to obtain a clean audit” from the IG’s office.

“Inspectors general are required to act as internal agency watchdogs to save taxpayers’ money, investigate corruption and punish wrongdoing,” Epstein told the Washington Times. “Edwards has failed to do his job on all fronts.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, stressed the irony:

“Mr. Mayorkas faces allegations of misusing the Immigrant Investor visa program, which he oversees and continues to lead, while he continues to run U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mr. Mayorkas — nominee for the No. 2 position at DHS — is currently under investigation by the DHS Inspector General’s office, which itself does not have (a permanent IG) in its top post and whose current leader is also under investigation.”

TOP JOB: Jeh Johnson is President Obama's choice to be secretary of DHS.

TOP JOB: Jeh Johnson,President Obama’s choice to be secretary of DHS, said he is “inclined” to provide information to Congress about the EB-5 visa-investor program

Jeh Johnson, Obama’s nominee to head DHS, was peppered with EB-5 questions during a confirmation hearing at the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, the top Republican on the panel, said the “investor visa program raises alarms about national security” and pressed Johnson to “publicly commit to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely manner.”

Johnson responded loosely that he was “inclined to give you what you need.” Both Carper and Coburn said more EB-5 queries will come from the committee.

Johnson, a former lead attorney at the Pentagon, did not address the Edwards matter, but pledged to “devote time and attention to management issues.”

“Sometimes the bureaucracy can be totally wrong,” he testified.

Grassley, who has compiled detailed questions and concerns about the administration of EB-5, including multiple correspondences between McAuliffe and top DHS officials, is watching.

Whether the White House — solely empowered to terminate the IG — lets Edwards stay or cuts him loose, Grassley concluded, “Ultimately, the work of the career employees must be judged on its own merits, so we’ll have to see the final product before making any judgments.”

Kenric Ward is a national reporter and chief of Watchdog’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at [email protected] or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward




Part of 76 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
  1. VA: As he runs for governor, McAuliffe wheels and deals electric cars in Mississippi
  2. VA: Media echo Watchdog exclusive on McAuliffe’s electric car maneuvers
  3. No news here: PolitFact brands Terry McAuliffe’s electric-car claim ‘false’
  4. Experts question source of McAuliffe car-company funding
  5. Terry McAuliffe on business ventures: ‘Some work, some don’t’
  6. How McAuliffe’s car company failed the Virginia test, landed in Mississippi
  7. Virginia official wants probe of McAuliffe company ‘visa-for-sale’ program
  8. McAuliffe car company sues Watchdog in libel claim
  9. Barack Obama’s GreenTech connection: Rick Wade
  10. Silence, secrecy, cops follow GreenTech’s China deal
  11. McAuliffe hones China’s crony-capitalism model in U.S.
  12. Promises keep Tunica County afloat
  13. McAuliffe company’s China hook-up: Will it work?
  14. McAuliffe car lags in Domino’s delivery
  15. McAuliffe car co. parent in off-shore tax shelter
  16. Lawmaker gives feds one more week for EB-5 answers
  17. Bolling: McAuliffe’s Mississippi package ‘attractive’
  18. Inside, execs knew McAuliffe plan had ‘substantial risk’
  19. Union darling McAuliffe and his non-union car company
  20. Did Clinton aid the birth of ‘McAuliffe’ car company?
  21. McAuliffe feels heat over GreenTech resignation
  22. TV report: One year later, ‘party is over’ at GreenTech
  23. Months after he said he left company, McAuliffe kept talking GreenTech
  24. Clinton connection: More money for McAuliffe
  25. Terry McAuliffe used loophole to avoid key SEC oversight of his car company
  26. VA officials: McAuliffe green car more politics than biz
  27. McAuliffe car company announces it’s ready to roll — again
  28. Before Watchdog, McAuliffe blamed federal officials for money trouble
  29. McAuliffe gets cash from GreenTech exec, board members
  30. Watchdog report on McAuliffe spurs FOI request to Homeland Security
  31. McAuliffe leaves GreenTech questions hanging at debate
  32. Totally wired: McAuliffe went to Napolitano to expedite company funding
  33. McAuliffe bragged about GreenTech’s cash position while begging feds for faster processing of ‘cash for visas’
  34. Investigation targets Homeland official’s relationship to McAuliffe company
  35. Even before news of federal probe, McAuliffe ducked GreenTech questions
  36. McAuliffe company pressed Homeland official on 81 investor visas
  37. Rodham company sought visa for controversial Chinese exec
  38. Immigration official says he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for foreign investors
  39. Whiners: Mayorkas says Gulf Coast ‘continues to complain’
  40. VIDEO: Ex-GreenTech employee says little happened at Horn Lake plant
  41. Online ad to Terry McAuliffe: Drop your lawsuit
  42. National security on ‘hold’: Lawmakers press McAuliffe for answers
  43. Citizens United documentary film delves into McAuliffe, GreenTech
  44. VIDEO: Terry McAuliffe’s 15 million-square-foot car plant … in China
  45. Feds call McAuliffe car company’s use of investment program ‘possible fraud’
  46. GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide
  47. GOP legislators call for McAuliffe to answer GreenTech questions
  48. McAuliffe ‘desperate’ over documentary, Citizens United says
  49. GreenTech weighed Fisker-style federal loan
  50. Group tells Terry: Follow ‘McAuliffe Standard’ on disclosure
  51. Car and Driver races into GreenTech controversy
  52. Congressman: McAuliffe owes Virginians explanation about White House meeting
  53. Feds loosen oversight as McAuliffe car company makes mysterious management change
  54. GreenTech execs use Times and ABC to throw McAuliffe under the (non-electric) bus
  55. Aide in union contribution swap hosts California fund-raiser for McAuliffe
  56. Despite denials, docs show McAuliffe company asked feds to fast-track visa for investor tied to spy list
  57. Former Democrat Party director was on GreenTech payroll
  58. More bad news for McAuliffe car company as GreenTech China venture stalls
  59. Clinton Foundation posts deficits on McAuliffe’s watch
  60. VIDEO: GreenTech record dogs McAuliffe at energy forum
  61. Auto industry expert labels McAuliffe electric car ‘preposterous’
  62. Democratic leaders have their own Bain pain in Mideast private equity deal
  63. Hillary PAC adviser served as GreenTech spokeswoman
  64. New emails add evidence McAuliffe pressed U.S. officials to approve GreenTech funding
  65. After endorsement, Post shrinks facts to cover Terry McAuliffe
  66. Ties that bind: Following the McAuliffe-Clinton money trail
  67. McAuliffe tilts at windmills; Chinese venture goes bust
  68. Federal investigations cast shadow over McAuliffe on Election Day
  69. DHS inspector over GreenTech-McAuliffe case is under investigation
  70. McAuliffe names former GreenTech employee secretary of commonwealth
  71. McAuliffe lawyers, accountants sort GreenTech stock amid federal investigations
  72. Nuking filibusters, Dems clear way for Mayorkas at Homeland Security
  73. U.S. judge hands Watchdog a victory over VA governor’s green-car company
  74. Attorney: McAuliffe is ‘100 percent divested’ of GreenTech
  75. Investigation finds Mayorkas used visa program to help White House allies
  76. Criminal investigation sought in McAuliffe-Mayorkas dealings


Kenric Ward is the San Antonio-based reporter for Watchdog.org. A California native and veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 and previously reported from Virginia. Kenric can be reached at [email protected]