McAuliffe denies seeking special visa favors for former company

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe released a statement Saturday night stressing he was previously unaware that the Securities Exchange Commission is investigating his former electric-car company for visa irregularities and that he didn’t seek special favors in the approval process for visas for potential workers and investors in Mississippi-based GreenTech Automotive.

"The first I learned of this investigation was earlier this week when the Washington Post reached out to my campaign,” he said in the statement. “I have no knowledge of the investigation other than what I have read in the papers. I find it unfortunate that a Republican Senator from Iowa – who has a long history of support for the EB-5 program – selectively released information for the purpose of partisan attacks instead of getting facts.”

He’s referring to Sen. Charles Grassley, who has raised concerns about a potential breach of security harmful to U.S. interests regarding the program’s granting of visas to investors.

"The EB-5 program is designed to inject capital into the American economy and to create American jobs (and) it has broad bipartisan support, including from every member of Virginia's delegation and the current administration in Richmond,” McAuliffe said. “There has been widespread frustration, however, both inside and outside USCIS about the bureaucracy there and the pace of the investment program. Like many business leaders and political officials from both parties, I was among those who expressed frustration on several occasions to multiple individuals.

“I never asked for any preferential treatment, nor did I ever expect to receive any.”

The campaign of Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, was quick with a response.

"The most significant point is not whether the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation led to McAuliffe's silent resignation from GreenTech Automotive, but that both the SEC and Department of Homeland Security are investigating actions taken by his company before he resigned as chairman (last year),” campaign manager Dave Rexrode said in a statement. “Tellingly, McAuliffe's statement did not deny that central fact. The question is, what did McAuliffe and GreenTech do to warrant not one, but two federal investigations?”