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Totally wired: McAuliffe went to Napolitano to expedite company funding

By   /   July 22, 2013  /   2 Comments

Part 32 of 73 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
AP file photo

CONNECTED: In this July 6, 2012, photograph, GreenTech Automotive chairman and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, left, and former President Bill Clinton, confer prior to the unveiling of GreenTech Automotive’s new electric MyCar at GTA’s leased facility in Horn Lake, Miss.

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.

A subsequent email from Gulf Coast general counsel Simone Williams to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas suggested that USCIS got the approval process in gear.

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.

Watchdog.org graphic

WHO’S WHO: A look at some of the players involved in the GreenTech Automotive story. Click to enlarge.

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 kenric@watchdogvirginia.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward

 

 

 

Part of 73 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

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Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers. A California native, 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 as Virginia Bureau Chief.

  • Damama

    still better than the alternative.

  • Wesley K. Brown

    @Damama…you are smoking bird seed!