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Before Watchdog, McAuliffe blamed federal officials for money trouble

By   /   July 18, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 28 of 76 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Months before his company blamed Watchdog.org for its financial troubles, an attorney working for Terry McAuliffe was blaming the federal government — warning federal officials that their failure to quickly approve applications for McAuliffe’s foreign investors had jeopardized the company’s finances and could bring down the U.S. government’s entire cash-for-visa program.

Watchdog.org art

WHAT A DEAL: Foreign nationals who invest $500,000 in a U.S. company can get U.S. residency and a green card. The funds are held in escrow pending USCIS approval.

In a July 7, 2011, email to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, attorney Dawn Lurie relayed complaints from officials at Gulf Coast Funds Management. The Virginia-based regional center was certified by USCIS in 2008 to raise foreign capital for GreenTech Automotive through the federal EB-5 cash-for-visas program.

“The regional center notified me earlier this week that they have received word of a possible lawsuit being filed against them for the delays associated with the I-526 petitions,” wrote Lurie, then an attorney with the law firm of Greenberg Traurig.

I-526s are applications made by foreign nationals who invest $500,000 in a U.S. company in exchange for U.S. residency and a green card. The funds are held in escrow pending USCIS approval.

Lurie’s email was included in documents obtained by Watchdog.org.

“I had not wanted to bother you with the concerns but feel the sense of urgency has escalated and requires your attention. Today, (GCFM) received word that investors are requesting refunds of their funds,” Lurie informed Mayorkas.

She went on to quote from officials at GCFM’s offices in China, where investors were being recruited as part of a capital campaign for McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive:

“Because of the slow issuance of the I-526s, we are facing many unhappy agents. … We are facing extreme pressure fr(om) agents and clients. We ran out of excuses already.

“I am afraid if the I-526 situation cannot ratify in the very near future, clients will WD (withdraw) fr(om) the program.”

“The framework of the entire EB-5 program could be threatened if there is a report of unrest combined with legal action taken against the center and the GTA project,” Lurie concluded.

Mayorkas, the top official at USCIS, responded within 23 minutes, writing, “Dawn, thank you for your email, which you and I discussed by telephone. I will follow up. Ali.”

USCIS would not say what actions, if any, the director took.

Lurie told Watchdog last week that she could not comment on the situation, since she left Greenberg Traurig.

“EB-5 is great program,” she said, “but I can’t talk about this one.”

Laura Rice, who chairs the immigration section at Greenberg Traurig’s Tyson’s Corner office, did not respond to an interview request.

GreenTech announced April 5 that McAuliffe, a Democrat running for governor of Virginia, had resigned as company chairman on Dec. 1, 2012.

The USCIS documents obtained by Watchdog reveal that McAuliffe went over Mayorkas’ head to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. In a Dec. 15, 2010, letter, McAuliffe advised Napolitano that “USCIS should … expedite adjudications of all EB-5 petitions for (GTA) investors.…”

More recently, GCFM general counsel Simone Williams emailed Mayorkas and USCIS deputy Don Neufeld on Jan. 23, declaring, “Undue delay by USCIS … has jeopardized our marketing efforts, as prospective investors are reluctant to invest in GTA.…”

Neither GTA nor Gulf Coast officials responded to Watchdog’s requests for comment.

GreenTech sued Watchdog in April for $85 million, claiming that articles appearing on April 1 and April 3 defamed the company and damaged its relations with investors.

Kenric Ward is 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
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  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 was a former San Antonio-based reporter for Watchdog.org.