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Political follies
Time for Terry McAuliffe to come clean on GreenTech

Date published: 8/14/2013

VIRGINIANS, it could be worse: We could have text-happy Anthony Weiner or Bob "Filthy" Filner running for office. Proudly, our politicians have been falling off the straight-and-narrow through greed, not tacky sex. Featured today: Governorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe is, in his own words, "a salesman who sells something." These days, Mr. McAuliffe is trying to sell himself to Virginians as their next governor. But first he has some explaining to do regarding GreenTech Automotive, the alternative-fuel car company he founded in 2009 in part to establish his bona fides as a job creator in preparation for this run for governor.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into "promises the company made while soliciting overseas investors" reports The New York Times. The question is whether GreenTech, and specifically Mr. McAuliffe, was legitimately recruiting Chinese investors or selling EB-5 visas. That Department of Homeland Security program allows foreigners who put $500,000 or more in an American company to apply for permanent-resident green cards.

Frustrated with delays in obtaining the visas, Mr. McAuliffe used his political connections and went straight to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas (now under an internal DHS investigation). According to GreenTech's lawyer, Stephen Yale-Loehr, "Terry knew somebody in Biden's office, and that's how the meeting got coordinated." Mr. McAuliffe's GreenTech partner, Charles Wang, told the Times that after their meeting with Mr. Mayorkas, he "issued a favorable ruling that cleared the way for GreenTech to recruit more foreign investors."

Time will tell whether anything crooked was going on. But Politifact reports that when Mr. McAuliffe was trying to establish his company in this state, at least two high-ranking officials of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (a state agency) expressed both doubt over the viability of the business and concerns that GreenTech was not "anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications." Mr. McAuliffe ended up taking his business to Mississippi, where GreenTech received millions of dollars of incentives. The promised factory has yet to be built.

Mr. McAuliffe, who has had little to say about these charges, quietly resigned from GreenTech in December but retains 25 percent of the company's shares. Now, The Man Who Would Be Governor needs to come clean about his dealings. For as we all know by now, temptations only increase once a candidate is in office.