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An investigation of McAuliffe’s former company becomes the latest scandal tainting governor’s race.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The cloud of scandal continues to hover over Virginia politics, and now it’s raining on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating GreenTech Automotive, the electric car company McAuliffe founded amid much hype in 2009, for “its conduct in soliciting foreign investors.” The investigation is partly focused on allegations that GreenTech guaranteed returns to its foreign investors.
This news follows reports that McAuliffe appealed to officials in the Department of Homeland Security for help getting visas for GreenTech investors under the federal EB-5 program. The program allows foreigners who invest $500,000 in projects in rural or struggling regions, or $1 million elsewhere, to receive U.S. residency if at least 10 full-time jobs are created within two years because of the investment.
McAuliffe, who quietly left the company in December, has acknowledged that he expressed frustration to “multiple individuals” about bureaucracy and delays in the investment program, but he insists he sought no favorable treatment. He said he knew nothing about the SEC probe until last week.
“If there are concerns as to whether procedures were properly followed, those concerns should be examined, and I’m glad the company said it is cooperating fully,” McAuliffe said in a written statement circulated Saturday.
Instead of issuing carefully parsed statements, McAuliffe should stand before the press and fully answer questions about GreenTech’s recruitment of foreign investors and his meetings with homeland security officials to discuss the EB-5 program. The political pitfalls of waiting and reacting to a slow drip of unsavory revelations should be apparent to anyone who has watched Gov. Bob McDonnell’s clumsy handling of his ongoing gifts scandal.
Perhaps McAuliffe is hoping that any political damage associated with GreenTech is neutralized by the ethics questions that dog his Republican rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. While his campaign was aggressively criticizing McAuliffe over the GreenTech probe last week, Cuccinelli himself was resisting calls to reimburse Jonnie Williams Sr. for gifts he accepted from the businessman, a key figure in the investigation of McDonnell.
Virginia faces a sad reality with three months remaining in this campaign. As a scandal-scarred McDonnell limps from the scene, the Republican and Democrat running to succeed him seem too weighed down by their own baggage to project any vision for addressing the real challenges the state will face over the next four years.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the man on the outside looking in on this dismal campaign, put it best when he took to Twitter on Friday night.
“Frustrated by current direction of the gubernatorial campaign,” Bolling vented. “Voters deserve better than they’re getting and that’s a bipartisan criticism.”
The criticism is well deserved.
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