By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
The former Obama cabinet official helped run the president’s latest campaign while simultaneously serving as a Democratic Party executive and vice president of GreenTech Automotive, the “green car” company owned by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Besides Wade, the venture has attracted other high-profile political insiders: Bill Clinton appeared at a company launch party. Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham runs the firm’s foreign-investor outreach. Former Republican National Committee chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour used a mix of grants and tax holidays to persuade McAuliffe to build Greentech in Mississippi.
But Wade might be the insider who carries the most weight.
Following a senior adviser role in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Wade was named interim director of the Department of Commerce and later became the department’s chief of staff and spokesman. While there, he helped craft Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill — the one that hyped such green-energy projects as the now-bankrupt Solyndra and even sent money overseas to aid production of green ventures in foreign countries. Wade got an education in cars via the president’s Auto Recovery Task Force, a $25 billion effort to prop up the failing U.S. auto industry.
The Commerce Department job also allowed Wade to hone a skill that might explain his value to GreenTech: he became a U.S. envoy on Chinese and Asian trade.
GreenTech’s majority owners have ties to China and the company seeks to raise capital from that country. It is mired in controversy over its use of a program here called EB-5, which allows foreign nationals to obtain U.S. visas in exchange for their investment in targeted U.S. companies. Each investment must produce at least 10 jobs.
In a retraction demand and lawsuit it filed against Watchdog, GreenTech, which has refused otherwise to respond to numerous requests for comment over several months, asserts, “Phase one of construction at (the Tunica, Miss., site) is complete and the project remains on schedule to be finished as projected.”
But so far the GreenTech assembly line has not produced enough cars to fill up dealerships around the U.S. At first, GreenTech tried to set up shop in McAuliffe’s home state of Virginia. But that venture disintegrated – ironically after Gov. Tim Kaine’s office questioned the company’s use of EB-5 funds. In a report, one Kaine official said she “still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications that we have no way to confirm or discount.” Another said the state’s approval of the project despite apparent shortcomings could give the commonwealth “a black eye.”
McAuliffe then found a supporter in Mississippi’s Barbour.
Wade came on board in 2011 while simultaneously joining Obama’s re-election campaign. He spent the next year cultivating votes for the president in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, states with no apparent connection to GreenTech.
At the same time, Wade founded a public relations firm, The Wade Group, which is a “global business development” company, according to LinkedIn.
A phone call and email seeking comment from Wade were not returned.
But you can hear something in Wade’s speeches while in the administration, something philosophical that also likely appealed to McAuliffe and the GreenTech executive team: faith in government regulation.
Speaking to a group of Michigan business leaders shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, Wade described the important role government would play in rebuilding the U.S. economy following the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“We know very well that lawmakers don’t invent. But the government does create the conditions — the framework — in which businesses operate. And that matters,” he said. “This administration is trying to rebuild the physical and the regulatory infrastructure that private sector businesses need to thrive.”
Now, at GreenTech Automotive, Wade is helping build a business that depends primarily on the stimulus of Mississippi giveaways and a federal program that collects cash from desperate foreigners hoping for a green card.
Contact Tori Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @newswriter2.
Concerned about what DC is up to? Click here to get our breaking news alerts!
- 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