By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
Emails between Alejandro Mayorkas and attorneys working for GreenTech Automotive show the company pressed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director to speed processing of 81 investor applications in a federal “cash-for-visas” program after each invested at least $500,000 in the hybrid car company.
The Inspector General’s Office says Mayorkas is the subject of an investigation for allegedly helping Gulf Coast Funds Management secure a visa for at least one GreenTech investor, according to the Assoicated Press. Mayorkas is President Obama’s nominee for the No. 2 position in the Department of Homeland Security.
One of the visas sought by Gulf Coast is for an official with a Chinese telecommunications firm that has been investigated by the House Intelligence Committee over claims it has close ties with Chinese intelligence, NBC News reported. The company in question, Huawei Technologies, denied such charges, NBC said.
Gulf Coast officials forcefully denied the AP report to an NBC affiliate in Richmond and claimed that they are not a part of any federal investigation.
“Gulf Coast Funds Management (GCFM) has not sought assistance from USCIS to resolve a rejected appeal. In fact, we are not aware of any investor visa applications associated with our Regional Center being denied,” said Gulf Coast attorney Simone Williams. “GCFM is not part of any investigation by Department of Homeland Security.”
The GreenTech controversy is magnified because of its many political connections to the federal government. It’s owned by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who announced his resignation as company chairman in April amidst an intense investigation by Watchdog. The company’s fundraising arm, Gulf Coast, is headed by Bill Clinton’s brother-in-law Anthony Rodham. USCIS authorized the company to solicit investors through the government’s EB-5 program, which awards visas to foreign
But apparently the USCIS wasn’t working fast enough to suit Gulf Coast and GreenTech. Two years ago a Gulf Coast attorney emailed Mayorkas, asking him to expedite
processing of 81 investor applications.
“Is there anything we can do to have the (applications) adjudicated and direction provided on the remaining cases?” asked attorney Dawn Lurie in a July 7, 2011 email. Then on Jan. 23, 2013, Mayorkas received another email from a second Gulf Coast lawyer.
This time she said 31 petitions were pending, but singled out two applicants for special consideration.
“Undue delay by USCIS in reviewing our (petitions) has jeopardized our marketing efforts, as prospective investors are reluctant to invest in GTA without seeing our petition approval record,” wrote Simone Williams.
A week later, Rodham followed with his own email, complaining that he was inundated with questions from the USCIS seeking additional information.
Back in 2009, McAuliffe sought the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s help in building a home for GreenTech in the state where he was running for governor. But VEDP officials were skeptical of the EB-5 funding mechanism that now has Mayorkas at the center of the IG probe. One Virginia official said the project appeared to be a “visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”
Virginia officials also worried about the close ties between Gulf Coast and GreenTech. “We believe that having the principals of the Regional Center be the same as the principals of the company benefiting from the investment creates a conflict of interest,” wrote VEPD Chairman Jeffrey Anderson to Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Patrick Gottschalk.
The legal database Lexis/Nexis shows GreenTech and Gulf Coast are related, sharing the same McLean, Va., address through February 2013.
“Until questions regarding the plant are answered and a complete financing solution is identified, we recommend that the Governor decline the opportunity to support the expansion into Virginia of the Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC Regional Center affiliated with GTA,” Anderson wrote in 2009.
Virginia government officials finally nixed the idea of a plant there. McAuliffe ultimately located the plant in Mississippi and has yet to construct the building that he says will be its permanent facility.
Kenric Ward contributed to this story.
Contact Tori Richards at [email protected] and on twitter @newswriter2
- 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