Terry McAuliffe’s electric car company under SEC investigation
posted at 6:01 pm on August 2, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham
There are so many boondoggles and politically incestuous relationships here, this may take a minute to sort out. Bear with me. If you stop reading, you’re letting the cronyists win.
In 2009, after losing his bid to be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Terry McAuliffe decided he’d get into the business that was all the rage in those days of big-government giveaways to fashionable industries. We were paving the new road to, ahem, recovery and sustainable economics that has brought us to 1.7 percent growth, and every connected political figure and their momma was starting an electric something company. McAuliffe was no different. His quest was manifold (see what I did there?). Get a bunch of government backing for his electric car company, GreenTech, maybe create some highly subsidized jobs or the illusion thereof, and do it all in the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia, thereby deepening his roots in the state as opposed to the District and burnishing creds as a businessman, not a politician.
It didn’t go as planned. GreenTech got government backing, all right, from the state of Mississippi, where it set up shop to create…well, not much. No one can seem to find the jobs or the cars businessman McAuliffe was supposed to create in exchange for that $5 million in Mississippi taxpayer money, and the people of two states have zip to show for it. McAuliffe was a co-founder of the company, but stepped down as its head to
extricate himself from this mess run for governor of Virginia.
Meanwhile… GreenTech is being investigated by two separate government entities— the Inspector General of Department of Homeland Security and now the Securities and Exchange Commission. Guy Benson explains the IG investigation:
President Obama’s pick to become the second-highest official at DHS — and who would run the department until Janet Napolitano’s replacement arrives — is named Alejandro Mayorkas. He is the target of an Inspector General investigation prompted by allegations from whistleblowers that he improperly intervened to help foreign nationals obtain investor or “EB-5” visas. The idea behind this visa program is to encourage and welcome wealthy foreigners who commit to investing in American companies with the promise of creating American jobs. EB-5s entitle visa-holders to legal status, and an expedited path to permanent legal residence. This makes good economic sense, so long as the visa recipients are properly vetted, deemed to be legitimate, and cleared as not detrimental to national security. In this case, the applicant in question was a Chinese businessman whose request was initially denied by the US government, then blocked again on appeal. In short, the vetting process worked, and a potentially problematic visa was withheld.
That’s when Mayorkas stepped in, allegedly abusing his influence within DHS in an attempt to bypass the government’s denial of entry to the Chinese investor. His power-play reportedly benefited a conduit company called Gulf Coast Funds Management, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the youngest brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Gulf Coast is also the funding arm of a floundering car company called GreenTech Auto, which until recently was chaired by Terry McAuliffe — a longtime Clinton confidante, and Virginia Democrats’ nominee for governor.
Did you catch that? That’s a Clintonista (Anthony Rodham) running a fund management company, which funds another Clintonista’s (McAuliffe) boondogle company in part by plying an Obama administration higher-up for special treatment in a federal government special visa program in which visas can be bought for $500K investments in…politically connected boondoggles, apparently. That Obama administration official is now up for the second-highest homeland security post in the U.S. as he stands accused of overriding national security concerns to help the Clintonistas with their boondoggle. Good times!
An electric-car company co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its conduct in soliciting foreign investors, according to law-enforcement documents and company officials.
The SEC subpoenaed documents in May from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company “guarantees returns” to the investors, according to government documents.
GreenTech has sought overseas investors through a federal program that allows foreigners to gain special visas if they contribute at least $500,000 to create U.S. jobs. Gulf Coast, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeks investors for GreenTech and arranges the visas.
In recent months, the SEC has stepped up its scrutiny of companies that use the visa program, largely over concerns that investors may have been misled or defrauded by the companies seeking their money. The visa program has also raised national security concerns from some lawmakers, who are worried that suspect individuals are using it to gain entry into the country.
The full focus of the SEC investigation into GreenTech and Gulf Coast is not known, and officials from the SEC declined to comment.
GreenTech and Gulf Coast (which the Post notes share office space inside the Beltway, incesty!) confirm they’ve been subpoenaed.
And, one more twist, for good measure: documents obtained by Sen. Chuck Grassley about the buy-a-visa program have shown Obama administration official Mayorkas (the one up for the DHS job) understated his dealings on behalf of GreenTech and the Clintonistas by quite a bit in a Congressional hearing:
The documents counter the impression left last week by a top U.S. immigration official, Alejandro Mayorkas, who testified in front of a Senate panel that he met with McAuliffe on one occasion “and that was the extent of the interaction.”
The documents show that Mayorkas and other senior DHS officials had a dozen e-mail and telephone contacts with McAuliffe, Rodham and other representatives for GreenTech and Gulf Coast.
This will not fix this problem for McAuliffe.
Citizens United has created a 30-minute documentary, Fast Terry, on McAuliffe’s misadventures in the car industry. Here’s the trailer, and you can watch the full film, here.