Interesting: is Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe playing fast and loose with the rules? Also, is the sky blue?
To kick-start GreenTech Automotive in Mississippi, the Virginia Democrat has sought funding through federal EB-5 immigration visas. In exchange for investments of $500,000, foreign nationals can gain U.S. citizenship for themselves and their families.
But the EB-5 system has been heavily criticized for its lack of transparency and lackadaisical enforcement. McAuliffe’s venture is seen as a particularly bad fit for the alien-investor program that’s supposed to create U.S. jobs.
“EB-5 is good for funding certain kinds of projects, but it’s not appropriate for this type of large-scale, long-term funding,” said Michael Gibson, managing partner of U.S. Advisors, a Florida-based research and investment firm knowledgeable about the program.
Some background here: GreenTech Automotive was the subject of some controversy in Virginian political circles when questions were raised about why McAuliffe opened a factory in Mississippi instead of Virginia; McAuliffe’s claims that the Virginia state government (under both Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Bob McDonnell) were not interested in working with GreenTech was rated False by PolitiFact Virginia, a group not exactly known for giving Democrats a particularly hard time about their statements. PolitiFact Virginia determined that the Virginian government was partially concerned with, but not condemning of, the EB-5 system; but the real problem seems to have been that McAuliffe was simultaneously negotiating with Mississippi and Virginia at the same time (apparently without telling either), and Mississippi got their bid in, first. Which is fine… for a businessman. But it’s not quite so fine for a political candidate who is trying to convince Virginians that he’s One Of Them – and not, say, a corporatist glad-handler.
Which is what makes the EB-5 thing so interesting; as Watchdog notes in the first link, it’s not really all that great for building, say, electric cars. But as a method for keeping Democratic politicians affiliated with the House of Clinton on payroll? It’s wizzo: “[Michael Gibson] noted that [Gulf Coast Funds Management Ltd, the company arranging the EB-5 visas] members – including president and CEO Anthony Rodham (Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother), Clinton IRS Commissioner Margaret Richardson and ex-Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco – are distinguished by their long-time ties to the Democratic Party and the former president.” Which does suggest that Virginia may be better off not having another Solyndra or Fisker-style disaster happen in its jurisdiction: there’s no real indication that GreenTech is going to do Mississippi any good. Of course, whether this also means that Terry McAuliffe is unlikely to do Virginia any good is something that the individual Virginian voter is going to have to decide for him or herself.
I can give you a hint or two, though.
Moe Lane (crosspost)