Politico reported on Saturday that Doug Smith, the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, who exchanged a series of emails with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe about GreenTech Automotive, has landed a new job with MWW, a high powered Washington D.C. public relations firm headed up by a major donor to McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign.
According to Politico, Smith “is joining MWW public affairs as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Washington office.” Acting DHS Secretary Rand Beers told Politico “Douglas has played a key role in leading DHS’s efforts in working with the private sector and strengthening the collaboration between the department and all of its private stakeholders from aviation security to intellectual property and all points in between.”
Virginia Public Access Project records show that MWW founder and CEO Michael W. Kempner has donated a total of $50,000 to the McAuliffe campaign this year. Kempner, who “serves as a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, appointed by President Barack Obama,” donated $10,000 to McAuliffe on June 24, $25,000 on October 16, and $15,000 on October 30.
Federal Election Commission records show that Kempner, who is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, has donated more than $280,000 to Democratic political candidates over the past several years, and more than $100,000 to Democratic joint fundraising committees. A Breitbart News review of FEC records indicates that Kempner’s donations to Republicans total a mere $2,250. He donated $1,000 to the Romney campaign in 2011 and 2012, $250 to the McCain campaign in 2008, and $1,000 to a John Kasich political action committee in 1999.
Smith has been heavily criticized by Republicans for playing an inappropriate role as McAuliffe’s advocate within the Department of Homeland Security. McAuliffe’s company, GreenTech Automotive, which he served as chairman from 2010 to 2012 and chairman emeritus since, is currently under investigation by the Inspector General’s Office of the DHS for inappropriate influence in the granting of temporary green cards and permanent visas within the DHS’s EB-5 foreign investors program.
Smith’s emails to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, a top DHS official, apparently played a role in setting up a personal meeting between McAuliffe and Mayorkas in 2011 to discuss a DHS ruling that was unfavorable to GreenTech, which Mayorkas later reversed.
As recently as February 2013, Smith forwarded a series of emails requesting expedited EB-5 visa application processing from the attorney representing Gulf Coast Funds Management, the EB-5 Regional Center wholly owned by McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive, to Mayorkas.
In a letter to Mayorkas on July 31, 2013, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) referenced several other email communications sent by Smith that appeared to constitute advocacy for DHS to provide preferential treatment to GreenTech Automotive.
In the letter, Grassley noted that “Smith forwarded you two emails from Mr. McAuliffe as early as July and August 2010. The first forward in July 2010 included a detailed e-mail from Mr. McAuliffe, who stated: Doug, [i]t was great speaking with you today. . . . GCFM filed an Amendment Application in Jan 2010 to expand its operations to Virginia and Tennessee to support G[reen] T[ech] A[utomotive]’s efforts. . . . I have been extremely frustrated by the USCIS approval process . . . . You should be aware that Senator Warner and other Members of Congress have made inquiries on this project.”
Grassley’s wrote to Mayorkas that in the first of this emails, sent in July 2010, that “Assistant Secretary Smith forwarded Mr. McAuliffe’s e-mail to you after apparently speaking about it with you, as he simply stated: ‘A – Thanks! Looking forward to our dinner when you get back.’ You forwarded Mr. McAuliffe’s e-mail to your subordinates in USCIS.”
Mayorkas then forwarded this email to USCIS employees involved in evaluating the GreenTech Automotive project, with the following comment:
Douglas Smith, the Assistant Secretary for Private Sector in DHS, just forwarded to me the attached regarding an EB-5 petition (he called me in advance a minute ago and indicated he would be doing so). I am copying [redacted] and [redacted] so that they have visibility. I want to make sure that we are providing customer service consistent with our standards but that we are not providing any preferential treatment. Please address as appropriate.
Thanks very much.
Grassley also cited an August 2010 email from McAuliffe to Smith, which Smith forwarded to Mayorkas, stating “this [denial of GreenTech’s application] is what I called you about. Unless I am missing something, this is just crazy.”
Breitbart News reported earlier that in an April 2013 email, a career DHS official stated that DHS “absolutely gave special treatment” to green card visa applications filed by foreign national EB-5 investors in GreenTech Automotive.
According to his biography on the DHS website, as Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector, Smith “advise[d] the Secretary on the impact of the Department’s policies, regulations, and processes on 29 million private sector companies, universities, and not-for-profit institutions and enhances strategic communications in order to help the public and private sectors to jointly meet their shared responsibility for homeland security.”
Earlier in his career Smith “served in a variety of positions [in the Clinton administration] including as a Deputy Press Secretary and Director of Special Projects for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.” Later, as Managing Partner of T Street Partners, Smith “successfully managed the winning campaign for the City of Chicago to be the U.S. Designate City for the 2016 Olympics.”
Image: EB-5 News