The Associated Press is out with a damaging report on the company recruited by Terry McAuliffe to help secure funding for his Greentech Automotive start up venture.
AP reporter Alicia Caldwell has discovered that a high ranking official in the Department of Homeland Security is under investigation for helping to facilitate access to the EB-5 program for a Chinese Company through the group Gulf Coast Management.
Here is part of Caldwell's report:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, who has been nominated to be the department's No. 2 leader, was named by the DHS Inspector General's Office as a target in an ongoing investigation about the foreign investor program run by USCIS.
According to an email sent to lawmakers Monday evening, the IG's office initially starting investigating the EB-5 visa program last year based on a referral from an FBI analyst in the counter intelligence unit in Washington. The email does not specify what criminal violations it is investigating.
The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to get a visa if they invest $500,000 to $1 million in a project or business that creates jobs for U.S. citizens. The amount of the investment required depends on the type of project. Investors who are approved for the program can become legal permanent residents after two years and would later be eligible to become citizens.
The White House did not have an immediate comment on the investigation. Neither the department nor USCIS immediately responded to inquiries.
Were Mayorkas confirmed as the department's deputy secretary, he likely would run the department on an interim basis until a permanent replacement has been approved to take over for departing Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The root of the complaint against Mayorkas is an allegation that he helped a financing company run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, win approval for an investor visa even after the application was denied and an appeal rejected.
read the full story here.
What Caldwell's report doesn't include is the connection of Gulf Coast Fund Management to McAuliffe's Greentech Automotive. According to Gulf Coast Fund Management's web site, the only company they are currently working on securing funding for is Greentech Automotive.
McAuliffe was the connection between Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Greentech.
In the past, officials in Mississippi have blamed the lack of progress in the Greentech venture on a hold up in EB-5 funds.
Last week company spokesperson Marianne McInerney rejected any claims that Greentech was inappropriately using the EB-5 program.
"We've met every regulation of the EB 5 program so I would say those (claims) are misguided", she said.
She also said that the EB-5 program was only one component of the company's investment plan.
"EB-5 is one part, and it's an important part, of our strategy but not the only one," she said.
McAuliffe resigned his position with Greentech in late 2012.
Republicans wasted no time pouncing on the report. McAuliffe's opponent Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) responded to the news himself.
“I think it’s time for Terry McAuliffe to come forward and answer questions about this serious matter," Cuccinelli said in a statement. "Virginians deserve to know the truth about McAuliffe and GreenTech’s potentially inappropriate solicitation of EB-5 visas.”
Tuesday evening Gulf Coast Funds Management officials forcefully denied the AP report 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 spokesman Simone Williams. "GCFM is not part of any investigation by Department of Homeland Security."
McInerney said the report of an investigation is news to GreenTech.
"GreenTech Automotive (GTA) was not aware of any investigation of the EB-5 program by the Department of Homeland Security before it was reported by the Associated Press," she said. "GTA has not been contacted by the Inspector General’s office."
Meanwhile the McAuliffe campaign distanced themselves from the report and said it has nothing to do with the candidate for governor.
"The investigation does not involve Terry and we hope that it is completed in a timely matter," said spokesman Josh Schwerin. "Cuccinelli’s attacks are an attempt to distract from his ties to the Star Scientific scandal. Its surprising that Cuccinelli would grandstand on this issue since his corporate patron Star Scientific is the subject of multiple investigations."