Cuccinelli goes on the offensive after news report details McAuliffe’s cronyism

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is on the offensive after the Washington Post reported that a 70-page document showed that Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe still had financial and legal ties to the infamous GreenTech Automotive after he publicly he announced that he had left the company last December.

“After telling the public and media for months that he had no involvement with the company, today we’re finding out that statement is blatantly untrue,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “As it turns out, not only was McAuliffe still involved, but GreenTech was also using that ongoing involvement to lure investors and promote its brand.”

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a risk or starting a business that does not reach the success one had hoped. That’s a fundamental and important part of free market capitalism,” Cuccinelli added. “But what’s very troubling about Terry McAuliffe’s unsuccessful leadership of GreenTech is his continued pattern of misleading Virginians and keeping critical information from them about the company, its operations and the ongoing federal investigations it is embroiled in.”

GreenTech has been a sticky issue for McAuliffe who has sustained constant media attention surrounding the company’s alleged use of EB-5 visas to get Chinese investors into the U.S. However, McAuliffe said in April that he left the company last December.

“Terry McAuliffe is unwilling to be open and honest about his involvement with GreenTech Automotive,” Cuccinelli said. “I do not believe that is the kind of leadership or character Virginians want or deserve. You cannot fight for Virginia if you are unable to be honest with its citizens.”

The 70-page “Private Placement Memorandum,” given to the Washington Post by the government watchdog group Cause of Action, referenced McAuliffe as the company’s “chairman emeritus” and included photographs and references to the gubernatorial candidate’s close ties to former President Bill Clinton and other political activities.

More importantly, the confidential memorandum — dated March 12 — said that McAuliffe is “currently the largest individual shareholder” of GreenTech and that the Virginia Democrat would stay involved with the company even if he won his election.

The Post reports that the memo says “[w]ere McAuliffe to win his race for governor” he would “resign all positions with [GreenTech] and appoint a representative to vote his shares.”

However, McAuliffe’s campaign told the Post that the memo “appears to have been written long after Terry resigned and he never saw or approved of this document. Terry left the company in early December and since then has had no official role and no responsibilities. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not correct.”

GreenTech Automotive also told the Post that McAuliffe was no longer involved with the “day-to-day operations” of the company and that the “chairman emeritus” title “recognizes his previous contributions to the board’s efforts.” The company declined to comment on the 70-page memorandum, saying that “securities counsel advised that it ‘may not comment directly’ on the memo ‘as these are communications with prospective investors that contain confidential nonpublic information about the company.’”

The Post reports the EB-5 visa program is loosely regulated and critics say it allows U.S. companies “to profit from foreign payments and fees sometimes with little job creation to show for it. In the meantime, these critics say, investors gain entry to the United States, even if they have little direct involvement in the fate of the companies they have ostensibly invested in.”

According to the Post, GreenTech has received about $46 million from EB-5 investors, but the company hasn’t made much headway producing cars or hiring workers. GreenTech’s plant sits in a mostly vacant lot in Tunica, Mississippi.

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