By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Email exchanges with the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reveal that Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive and its funding arm enjoy unusual access to several top Obama administration officials.
In one instance, McAuliffe appealed directly to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for special treatment to secure GreenTech’s funding.
Such high-level access is likely a function of connections between federal officials and GreenTech executives and board members, many of them Washington insiders:
- McAuliffe, who chaired the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton era and was chairman of GTA until last December, was a chief fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
- Rick C. Wade, a GTA vice president, was a top Commerce Department official and helped run President Obama’s 2012 campaign while serving as a Democratic Party executive.
- Tony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s younger brother, heads Gulf Coast Funds Management, GTA’s funding arm.
- Serving on the GCFM board are Kathleen Blanco, former Democratic governor of Louisiana; and Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, Clinton’s former IRS commissioner.
Williams reported that 92 investor petitions had been approved by the agency as of Jan. 23, 2013.
At $500,000 per investor, that totals $46 million.
Williams later sought more, and she contacted Mayorkas to complain that “$17 million of EB-5 funding is being held in an escrow account.” Williams told Mayorkas that the funds “cannot be released to GTA until USCIS approves our … petitions.”
The pattern of insider access was established earlier, when McAuliffe himself went over Mayorkas.
In 2010, the GTA chairman emailed Douglas Smith, assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees USCIS. Two years later, Smith was present at a GreenTech ceremony McAuliffe hosted in Mississippi last July.
On Dec. 15, 2010, McAuliffe wrote to Napolitano, alleging that USCIS was “standing in the way of creating thousands of jobs for U.S. workers.”
The record does not indicate Napolitano’s response, if any.
More recently, Rodham also contacted Mayorkas to push for more EB-5 approvals.
“We really appreciate your assistance in looking into this matter for us to move our cases along,” Rodham stated on Jan. 29. No subsequent emails were available to indicate what, if anything, Mayorkas did.
Napolitano recently announced her departure from the Department of Homeland Security. But that should come as a small worry for the well-connected McAuliffe, who still will have very good friends in very high places: Among them Mayorkas, whom President Barack Obama this month nominated for deputy secretary of DHS.
Mayorkas did not respond to a Watchdog.org inquiry.
Steve Camarota, director of research for the enforcement-oriented Center for Immigration Studies, told Watchdog.org that the ability of GreenTech and Gulf Coast to get the ear of the director of the 18,000-employee agency is exceptional.
“It’s very tough (to get USCIS responses), even at the public-affairs level. I wish I could get that kind of service,” Camarota said.
Virginia state Sen. Tom Garrett, who wrote to Mayorkas twice in the past three months seeking information about USCIS-GreenTech communications, wrote the director again on Friday.
“More than anything, I’m disturbed that private citizen Terry McAuliffe can gain access to a Cabinet-level secretary while everyday Americans cannot,” stated the Republican lawmaker who also serves as the commonwealth attorney of Louisa County.
“I may just be 1/40th of the Senate of Virginia, but I represent more than 200,000 Virginians who deserve to know just what their government is doing on their behalf, and whether or not Terry McAuliffe received any special treatment due to his political connections,” 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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