Terry McAuliffe's campaign responded to the testimony Thursday of a Alejandro Mayorkas- the man picked by President Barack Obama to become the 2nd most powerful official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Mayorkas is facing heat from Republicans after it was revealed this week that he is the subject of a investigation by the DHS Inspector General for his role in seeking assistance for the company Gulf Coast Funds Management (GCFM) in their dealings with the EB-5 program.
The EB-5 program grants visas to foreign bussinesspeople that invest significant capital in U.S. companies.
According to e-mails sent to lawmakers vetting his nomination- Mayorkas' efforts on behalf of GCFM are being examined to determine if he provided special assistance to the politically connected firm. Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, runs the company which has close ties to the Democratic Nominee for Governor, McAuliffe. GCFM was the firm in charge of coordinating the acquisition of EB-5 funds for Greentech, the green car start up started by McAuliffe after he lost the Democratic nomination for governor in 2009.
Early reports on the Mayorkas investigation cited GCFM but did not specifically include McAuliffe or Greentech. However Thursday during a tense hearing over his confirmation, Mayorkas was asked about McAuliffe and if he had personally intervened in efforts to free up EB-5 money destined for Greentech.
"I was asked to attend a meeting with Mr. McAuliffe so that I could hear in person his complaints,” said Mayorkas in response to a question from Sen. Tom Caper (D-Delaware), the chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs.
Mayorkas said unequivocally that the assistance he provided was not above and beyond the norm and that of all the programs in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the EB-5 program was one of the most controversial.
“We receive more complaints about our administration of the EB-5 program than we do in any other area of our work.” Mayorkas said. “Yes we receive complaints from the public, we receive complaints from applicants and petitioners, and we receive complaints from Members of Congress and from both parties.”
The revelation is the first definitive link between McAuliffe and the investigation. The details of the investigation are still very murky and it is unclear what- if any crimes the Mayorkas may have committed. McAuliffe continues to maintain that he is personally not a target of the investigation and did nothing wrong in soliciting Mayoraks' help in finding resolution to the problem.
"Terry, like many business and political officials from both parties, was frustrated with the bureaucratic pace of the investment program," said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.
Schwerin said McAuliffe has not been contacted by investigators in relation to Mayorkas investigation.
"There has been widespread frustration inside and outside USCIS about the bureaucracy there and Terry was among those who expressed frustration with that bureaucracy when he and some colleagues, including council, met with Mr. Mayorkas," Schewrin said.
McAuliffe's opponent for Governor is not convinced. Ken Cuccinelli wants to know more about why Mayorkas referred the Greentech matter to the Fraud Detection National Security Directorate (FDNS) within USCIS as he mentioned in his testimony.
Republicans believe it is another example of McAuliffe's questionable business record.
“I think it’s time for Terry McAuliffe to come forward and answer questions about this serious matter,' said Cuccinelli. "Virginians deserve to know the truth about McAuliffe and GreenTech’s potentially inappropriate solicitation of EB-5 visas.”
You can watch the entire Mayoraks confirmation hearing here.