Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the top Clinton operative who holds elected office, is under investigation yet again. This time, it involves $120,000 given to McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign by a billionaire who served in China's communist legislature.
McAuliffe's business and political dealings have raised questions repeatedly. For example, in the 1990s, as McAuliffe set records raising money for the Clintons, congressional investigators uncovered a Chinese government scheme to funnel money to the Clinton operation through a number of businesspeople, including a man named "Charlie" Trie. In that case, 94 people either refused questioning, pled the Fifth Amendment, or left the country.
During that period, McAuliffe helped a company named Loral Space get seats on official trade missions, and, reportedly with McAuliffe's intervention, the Clinton administration overruled national security officials to approve a Loral deal that gave China critical missile technology. Loral's CEO became the largest donor to the Democratic National Committee, where McAuliffe became chairman.
In 2009, McAuliffe founded GreenTech Automotive, a manufacturer of electric vehicles. "If you have good green projects, there are billions of dollars that are looking for those projects," he said at the time. Soon after, McAuliffe received a package of special-interest "incentives" — loans, grants and targeted tax breaks — from state and local governments in Mississippi to build a plant there. The taxpayers' care package totaled at least $5 million. At the plant's ribbon-cutting, Bill Clinton was an honored guest.
Why did McAuliffe, running for governor in Virginia, build his plant in Mississippi? Because Virginia provided no taxpayer goodies. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which hands out "development incentives," was "dubious of the project from its beginning." One official wrote, "This company is a complete start-up venture and it appears the management team has no previous experience in automotive manufacturing."
Despite "failing to satisfy questions about its financing and viability," McAuliffe kept looking for government handouts. The Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel went so far as to call the fundraising ploy "Terry McAuliffe's Solyndra" and a "crony-capitalist embarrassment."
The Mississippi project was supposed to produce 1,500 jobs. Later, company officials dropped that to 350 by late 2014. A recent group photo of employees shows about 75 people.
But there's more to the GreenTech story than crony capitalism: McAuliffe's visa business.
Under the Immigration Act of 1990, through a little-known visa program called EB-5, a foreigner can obtain a green card by investing $1 million in the U.S. ($500,000 if the company locates in a rural or high-unemployment area). Both government agencies and private companies can issue EB-5 visas in exchange for high-dollar investment.
GreenTech, shortly after its founding, partnered with Gulf Coast Funds Management — run by Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother — to recruit EB-5 investors. (Today, Rodham runs the GreenTech EB-5 operation, and the two companies share offices in McLean, Va.) Between 2009 and 2012, EB-5 visas helped GreenTech raise $67 million from over 100 foreign investors. Gulf Coast collected more than $7 million of its own during that time, suggesting a massive "visas for sale" scheme. By early 2013, at least 31 Chinese had received green cards through the McAuliffe/Rodham EB-5 operation. (Keep in mind that, in China, there's no real distinction between the Communist Party, the government and the business elite.)
Gulf Coast attempted to acquire an EB-5 visa for a Chinese telecom executive linked to the Chinese government. Zhenjun Zhang, the Huwaei Technologies executive who coordinated with Gulf Coast, was accused by former CIA Director Michael Hayden of "providing sensitive information about foreign communication systems to Beijing," according to one report. Yet Gulf Coast still made a pay-for-visa deal.
One possible explanation: Foreign nationals with green cards can contribute to elections, thanks to a loophole that McAuliffe is currently exploiting to excuse monies he (and the Clinton Foundation) received from Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang.
Coincidentally, Gulf Coast's Rodham is the godfather of the grandson of Aslan Abashidze, a former official in the former Soviet nation of Georgia, who partnered with Rodham in a deal to export hazelnuts. Abashidze was removed from office in 2004, thanks to public protests stemming from his conviction for stealing $57 million in government funds. Abashidze was also accused of murdering a former deputy.
Money and political power, coming together in business deals involving some of the world's most corrupt people. The latest investigation into Terry McAuliffe proves the Clinton '90s never really ended.
Dr. Steven J. Allen is the Vice President and Chief Investigative Officer of the Capital Research Center.Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.