By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
HOT SPRINGS, Va. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli repeatedly mocked Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe on Saturday for the decision to locate GreenTech Automotive in Mississippi.
McAuliffe, former chairman of the electric-car company, tried to deflect the criticism, touting his goal to bring “21st” century jobs” to Virginia.
“Not many people would have started an electric car company. Nissan took 18 years. Our company has done it in four,” McAuliffe said during a debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association and moderated by PBS’ Judy Woodruff at The Homestead resort. It was unclear what he meant by the comparison.
Beyond that, McAuliffe had little to say about the firm he says he founded.
In a short encounter with reporters after the 90-minute debate, McAuliffe defended GreenTech’s decision not to place a plant in economically depressed Martinsville, Va., while he chaired the company.
“A lot of people make the decisions on the plants,” said McAuliffe, who reportedly stepped down Dec. 1. “I would certainly hope in future expansion plans that (Martinsville) would be included.”
In fact, McAuliffe reiterated during the debate that he had a “fiduciary responsibility” to take the company where it could obtain the most favorable terms.
McAuliffe left without responding when a Watchdog.org reporter asked what he thought about his former company suing the news organization over coverage of GreenTech.
In all, McAuliffe spent barely five minutes with reporters. Amid a scrum of jostling journalists, Cuccinelli entertained questions for roughly 15 minutes.
During the debate, “Cuccinelli scored points early on by invoking McAuliffe’s time with GreenTech,” Politico reported.
“OK, so you picked Mississippi; so run for governor in Mississippi,” Cuccinelli said to laughter and applause.
“You walked over the people of Martinsville on the way to Mississippi,” the GOP attorney general added.
Cuccinelli then drove home the theme that McAuliffe has failed to deliver on job-creation promises.
“(McAuliffe) promised 900 jobs by end of 2012. It wasn’t true when he said it. It wasn’t true at the end of 2012,” he said.
And ridiculing the Democrat’s reputation as a businessman and political fund-raiser, Cuccinelli said McAuliffe “went to Mississippi for its tax money. He thinks that’s how government is supposed to work.”
Branding the former Democratic National Committee chairman a “Washington insider and Virginia outsider,” Cuccinelli concluded the debate with a final salvo at GreenTech – this time over the company’s use of the little-known EB-5 visa-investor program for financing.
According to documents obtained by Watchdog, 92 EB-5 investor petitions had been approved for GreenTech by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services as of January 2013. That would yield a total of $46 million.
“We should be able to know how much of the money he’s getting,” Cuccinelli said. McAuliffe did not respond.
Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
- 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
- Investigation finds Mayorkas used visa program to help White House allies
- Criminal investigation sought in McAuliffe-Mayorkas dealings