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Immigration official says he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for foreign investors

By   /   July 25, 2013  /   No Comments

Part 38 of 76 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
AP photo

TIRED OF TERRY’S WHINING: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left, lends her endorsement to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, President Obama’s nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, during his confirmation hearing. Mayorkas revealed that he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for McAuliffe’s investors as part of the federal EB-5 program. (AP)


By Will Swaim | Watchdog.org

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A top federal immigration official testified Thursday that he met with Terry McAuliffe to discuss the visa applications of foreign investors in the Virginia gubernatorial candidate’s car company, GreenTech Automotive.

Denying accusations the meeting was inappropriate, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, “I was asked to attend a meeting with (McAuliffe) so I could hear his complaints. I heard those complaints, and that was the extent of the interaction.”

He recalled that the meeting occurred “about two years ago.”

That surprise revelation came just hours after a GreenTech Automotive official denied the company has ever lobbied  immigration officials to speed visas for its investors.

The company “does not (itself) interact with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officials,” an unnamed GreenTech spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  The spokesperson said GreenTech handled visa issues through Gulf Coast Funds Management, an affiliated investment firm headed by Anthony Rodham, brother of Hillary Clinton.

McAuliffe, who is in a tight race for the Virginia governor’s office, was GreenTech’s chairman until his abrupt April resignation following media reports about his company’s use of the controversial federal EB-5 cash-for-visas program. He remains a part owner in the company.

Asked by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., if he imposed any changes in the handling of Gulf Coast’s investor applications as a result of the meeting, Mayorkas responded, “Absolutely not.”

“I returned to my office and said I was tired of hearing complaints,” he related.

Mayorkas met with senators weighing his appointment to the No. 2 spot at Homeland Security. Acting on a tip from the FBI, the DHS Inspector General said it is looking at evidence that Mayorkas may have acted inappropriately to approve the denied visa application of a Chinese national seeking to invest in McAuliffe’s company.

According to the Tribune-Review, “GreenTech said it was not aware of the IG probe” until the Associated Press revealed it earlier this week.

Watchdog.org has reported that Rodham’s company pressed Mayorkas to fast-track visa applications for 81 GreenTech investors.

Documents obtained from the USCIS through a Freedom of Information Act request show McAuliffe went over Mayorkas’s head, appealing directly to Janet Napolitano, secretary of the powerful Department of Homeland Security.

In some cases, the company’s appeals were frantic.

“The investors are upset and threatening to withdraw their investments,” GreenTech attorney Dawn Lurie wrote to Mayorkas on June 28, 2011. “Reputation is critical in this industry and our branding is being hurt.”

A week later Lurie followed with another email warning of unhappy investors threatening a lawsuit.

The email apparently had little effect: a year and a half later a second attorney had the same message for Mayorkas. This time her words were more direct.

“This delay is having a detrimental impact on the ongoing operations of GreenTech Automotive and GTA’s ability to create and maintain American jobs,” Simone Williams wrote on Jan. 23, 2013.

GreenTech’s denial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review may rest on its suggestion that Rodham’s investment firm is somehow independent. It’s not: federal documents show GreenTech Automotive is Gulf Coast’s only client. Outside observers, including Virginia officials reviewing the company’s business plan in 2009, have concluded there is no important separation between the two.


RIDE-ALONG: Anthony Rodham, right, travels with GreenTech president and CEO Charles Wang on high-speed train in China.

“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,” a commonwealth official wrote in his review. “Furthermore, having the principals benefit monetarily from the fees to be charged to the investors creates a conflict of interest.”

A photo obtained by Watchdog shows GreenTech CEO and president Charles Wang sleeping next to Rodham on a Chinese train. Sources said the two were traveling the country to solicit Chinese investors.

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

Reporting from Capitol Hill by Kenric Ward. Additional reporting by Tori Richards. 

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


Will is the vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center and editor of Watchdog.org. You can reach him at [email protected]