Yesterday we outlined at length Terry McAuliffe's explanation as to why he chose to open a manufacturing plant for his Green Car company in Mississippi instead of here in Virginia. The plant opened to great fanfare in July and was helping to establish McAuliffe's credentials as a businessman willing to invest in green technology as a long term economic solution.
But for McAuliffe, who purchased the Chinese company shortly after losing the democratic primary for governor in 2009, the fact that the plant and it's potential one thousand jobs ended up in Mississippi was a mystery. Especially because McAuliffe never really stopped running for governor. He touted this week that he has attended some 2,400 political events in Virginia over the past four years.
On Wednesday McAuliffe claimed that the reason he went to the deep south instead of the Commonwealth was because the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) passed on his company's incentive application.
"VEDP decided they didn't want to bid on it," he said.
According to a spokeswoman from VEDP, the agency never officially was given the opportunity to bid or not bid on his project.
"We did not receive enough information to respond to GreenTech’s business proposal that was received in 2009," said Suzane West, the Communications Manager for VEDP.
West said VEDP could not give specifics on what information was not provided, but according to Marianne McInerney, the Executive Vice President of sales at GreenTech, the company decided to forgoe the final steps of the application process because it was made clear to them in meetings with VEDP that the proposal would be unsuccessful. This was after a significant amount of time and energy was dedicated to the project.
"GreenTech has two goals, creating affordable green vehichles and creating jobs in the U.S." McInerney said. "Terry McAuliffe's primary goal was to move the plant to Virginia, but VEDP made it clear they were not interested."
When GreenTech ran into roadblocks in Virginia, they explored options in others states.
McAuliffe said yesterday that politics had nothing to do with the proposal not moving forward. A difficult argument to be made any way when you consider that GreenTech applied for approval during the democratic administration of Tim Kaine and not the republican administration of Bob McDonnell.
McAuliffe has touted the GreenTech move to the U.S. as an example of his efforts to in source jobs from Asia to the U.S. and do so in bi-partisan fashion. GreenTech opened it's plant in Mississippi to great fanfare with GOP governor Haley Barbour and former President Bill Clinton. But republicans believe that in an effort to get the best deal for his private company, McAuliffe misled voters in Virginia.
"Getting caught in a lie about jobs is no way to start ones campaign for governor and introducing yourself to Virginia's voters," said Chris LaCivita, a strategist for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the front runner for the republican nomination.
McAuliffe's campaign argues that he never lied about any aspect of his efforts to bring GreenTech to the United States and there is no question that Virginia was where he wanted to bring the company. On Wednesday, McAuliffe argued that Virginia is not doing enough to entice manufacturing jobs.
"Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created," McAuliffe said. "Virginia has made a decision not to go after those manufacturing facilities, I've always argued that we should go after them."
LaCivita believes this situation will offer voters insight into who the presumptive democratic nominee actually is.
"At least we know now the standard Terry McAuliffe holds himself too," he said.
But the McAuliffe campaign said tonight that their candidate's main focus has been and will continue to be jobs.
"Unfortunately, the VEDP made clear that they were not interested in pursuing this economic development project" said Brennan Bilberry, a campaign spokesperson. "The main reason Terry is running for Governor is to make it easier for companies to create jobs right here in Virginia and he has the business background to make it happen. Terry knows an important part of ensuring Virginia’s economic prosperity is to attract the growing and innovative companies of the 21st Century.”