A company founded by Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ candidate for Virginia’s governor, was barred for a grant in the state because officials felt it could be part of a “visa-for-sale" scheme, it has been revealed.
GreenTech Automotive wanted to set-up a plant in the Old Dominion to produce MyCar, a neighborhood electric vehicle. It planned to make use of a little-known federal job creation program called the EB-5 program, which encourages foreigners to invest at least $1 million in regional development, which in turn would make them eligible for a residence visa.
But high-ranking officials at Virginia Economic Development Agency rejected the proposal after it saw little evidence that GreenTech had any of the hallmarks of a start-up, the National Review reports
Officials questioned whether the company had investors, and observed it had no brand recognition or the certifications and approvals required for its product. It also believed GreenTech was unlikely to create ten jobs within two years, a requirement of the EB-5 program.
An internal email from the agency, revealed in January following a Freedom of Information Act request, showed the officials believed McAuliffe’s business venture was nothing but “a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”
The email from Liz Povar, then director of business development at the agency, added, “This ‘feels’ like a national political play instead of a Virginia economic development opportunity. I am not willing to stake Virginia’s reputation on this at this juncture.”
In 2009, McAuliffe’s company decided to relocate to Mississippi, and received a $5 million start-up loan from that state.
McAuliffe, who was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001-2005, stepped down from GreenTech’s board in December 2012.
He was adopted as the Democratic candidate for the Virginia gubernatorial race last week. He will face Republican Ken Cuccinelli in November.
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