GreenTech, the start-up electric car company founded by the Democratic nominee for governor Terry McAuliffe is once again back in the news.
The company, once thought to be an opportunity to show the candidate's business acumen, has turned into a series of damaging stories that range from the company's lack of progress to the company and its partner organization being under two separate federal investigations.
On Sunday the Washington Post brought GreenTech back to the front page with a lengthy story on how the company is an example of McAuliffe's business practices. The paper, with the help of the conservative leaning non-profit government watchdog "Cause of Action" revealed that despite his resignation from GreenTech at the end of 2012, McAuliffe continues to be touted as "Chairman Emeritus" in a recently released company memorandum.
The pitches to potential investors in a new electric-car company have been unabashed about its promise: It will enjoy “billions” in government subsidies and tax credits, will rise to a dominant position in the U.S. electric-car industry and, perhaps most critically, has a politically connected founder with the savvy to make it all happen.
That founder, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D), is listed in a recent confidential memorandum to prospective investors as GreenTech Automotive’s “chairman emeritus.” The 70-page document includes photographs and references to McAuliffe’s close ties to former president Bill Clinton. It recounts his political pedigree in detail, from serving as finance director for Jimmy Carter’s 1980 presidential reelection campaign to breaking fundraising records for the Democratic Party and chairing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.A section dedicated to GreenTech’s public relations efforts cites only one specific initiative: McAuliffe’s past promotion of electric vehicles on “national television news programs.”
Dated March 12, the previously undisclosed prospectus, provided to The Washington Post by the nonprofit watchdog group Cause of Action, notes that McAuliffe is “currently the largest individual shareholder” of GreenTech.
read the full Washington Post story here
The material provided to the Washington Post is only part of a lengthy six month investigation by Cause of Action. The group touts itself as a "non-profit, non-partisan" advocacy group, however it closely aligned with the conservative Franklin Center. The Franklin Center's journalistic arm Watchdog.org has produced a lengthy series of hard hitting reports on McAuliffe. Their reports on his GOP opponent Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are far less critical. Take for instance this story on his teen volunteer army.
This new report by Cause of Action (which NBC12 was given an advance copy of) contains a lot of what has already been reported. It goes to great lengths to outline the concerns the Virginia Economic Development Partnership had with the GreenTech proposal and the fast track it was given by leaders in Mississippi.
It outlines the questionable use of the U.S. EB-5 program which helps foreign investors to leverage capital investment in exchange for visas.
They also details the history of GreenTech and McAuliffe's co-founder Charles Wang who recently conducted an interview with the NY Times distancing himself from McAuliffe.
There were a couple of interesting points revealed in the report that are worth spotlighting.
First: GreenTech and it's related entities have contributed more than $85,000 (figure 2 page 24 of the report) to McAuliffe's two separate campaigns for governor. The bulk of that funding came during McAuliffe's failed 2009 campaign and before he decided he was interested in the electric car company business. So far in his 2013 campaign, McAuliffe has recieved only $1,7250 from GreenTech related donors.
Second: McAuliffe, who has said repeatedly that he is not involved in either of the two investigations related to GreenTech and its partner company GulfCoast Funds Management (GCFM), sent an e-mail (page 15-16 of the report) to Mississippi's then Governor Haley Barbour which states that Mississippi's two senators, Thad Chochran and Roger Wicker both called the Director of the U.S. Customs and Immigrations Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas to encourage him to help push through 83 EB-5 petitions submitted by GCFM. In the e-mail, McAuliffe writes that he had personally met with then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to voice his "displeasure with the program".
Mayorkas is under investigation by the U.S. Inspector General because of accusations that he was working to give GCFM special treatment to move along their EB-5 requests. GreenTech is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the way it went after forgien investment capital.
McAuliffe and the White House admitted that McAuliffe also met with Obama Administration officials about GreenTech. He has said he sought meetings with Mayorkas because of the "bureaucratic pace" of the EB-5 program.
Despite his connections to both high level inquiries, McAuliffe has said directly that he has not been questioned by investigators, he has not retained counsel in the matter and is not the target of any investigation.
While GreenTech has been the source of many headaches for the McAuliffe team, there is little evidence that is has inflicted the damage Republicans wish that it would. Despite a summer of negative reports that included a flurry of television ads and a full half hour documentary on the topic, McAuliffe emerged out of labor day day with a sizeable lead in many polls.
Cuccinelli has had his own problems to deal with as he continues to beat back his connection to the ongoing Star Scientific saga.
However in the last week, Cuccinelli has closed the gap and the race is within a few points with McAuliffe holding a slight lead. The Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is a position to potentially play spoiler.
The stage is set for an interesting finish in a race already filled with plenty fireworks. The next big showdown comes this Wednesday as McAuliffe and Cuccinelli share the stage at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce debate in McLean. You can see that debate live on NBC12 at 7pm.