An ongoing FBI investigation is looking into the possibility that donations to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign may have come from foreign nationals. That is against the law.
Further, similar donations to McAuliffe’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign for governor may also end up causing problems for him, and possibly a greater political problem for Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a long time friend and ally of McAuliffe.
The focus of the investigation may be whether $120,000 in contributions made to McAuliffe’s successful 2013 campaign for governor of Virginia by Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang through a company he owns in America are legal.
Before his election, McAuliffe served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005. He was the leading fundraiser for Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992, served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign, and was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.
“Federal investigators are looking broadly at donations to McAuliffe and at his personal finances,” the Washington Post reports.
McAuliffe ran unsuccessfully in 2009 for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia. He lost the primary that June to State Senator Creigh Deeds, who in turn lost the general election in November to Republican Bob McDonnell.
McAuliffe’s successful 2013 campaign for governor received a $120,000 donation from a company controlled by Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, while his unsuccessful 2009 campaign received a $50,000 donation from a Chinese corporation (Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corporation) controlled by another Chinese businessman, Xiaolon “Charles” Wang, and a $25,000 donation from Chinese born Jack Xi Deng, an executive with another Chinese corporation (Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings) controlled by yet another Chinese national, Yung “Benjamin” Yeung.
The man behind the 2013 contributions to McAuliffe, Wang Wenliang, has also pledged to make a $2 million donation to the Clinton Global Initiative, according to the Post.
The Chinese company whose executive donated $25,000 to McAuliffe in the 2009 campaign (Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings) also paid Bill Clinton $300,000 in 2008.
As Breitbart News reported previously:
Mr. Yeung funded his company with $1.6 million, according to court records, and intended to raise capital from Chinese investors through the EB-5 immigration program to finance automobile manufacturing operations in the United States. The EB-5 program awards green cards to foreigners investing in businesses in the US…
In December 2008, Mr. Yeung’s, company, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings, paid Bill Clinton $300,000 to give a speech in Hong Kong, according to Fox News, which also reported that “[t]wenty five days later, on Dec. 29, a man listed as the company’s CFO, Jack Xi Deng, made a $25,000 cash donation to the Virginia gubernatorial campaign of Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe.”
The Chinese company that donated $50,000 to McAuliffe in the 2009 campaign (Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corporation) merged with GreenTech Automotive and in October 2009, four months after he lost the 2009 Democratic primary for governor of Virginia, McAuliffe became chairman of the company. He held that position until December 2012 when he resigned, but, according to press reports, he remains the largest shareholder in WM GreenTech Automotive, the successor company to GreenTech Automotive.
Despite the 2009 campaign connections to Chinese controlled companies and Chinese business executives, press reports so far have only mentioned the 2013 campaign donations as an area of interest to the FBI.
“Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang, through his U.S. businesses. Wang was previously delegate to China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s ceremonial legislature,” CNN reported on Monday.
Wang Wenliang heads up China Rilin Construction and Dadong Port Group.
“West Legend Co., the New Jersey affiliate of Rilin Enterprises, a Chinese firm led by Wang [Wenliang], gave $120,000 to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign and inauguration,” the Post reported on Tuesday.
Wang Wenliang has been a generous patron of Democratic politicians and liberal causes in the United States. CNN reported, “Wang also has been a donor to the Clinton foundation, pledging $2 million. He also has been a prolific donor to other causes, including to New York University, Harvard and environmental issues in Florida.”
Federal election law “prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.”
It is also against the law “to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.”
The law defines foreign nationals as “Foreign governments; Foreign political parties; Foreign corporations; Foreign associations; Foreign partnerships;Individuals with foreign citizenship; and Immigrants who do not have a “green card.”
Immigrants who have a green card, however, may legally contribute to U.S. campaigns.
“An immigrant may make a contribution if he or she has a “green card” indicating his or her lawful admittance for permanent residence in the United States,” the FEC website on foreign national donations says.
“Wang [Wengliang] holds U.S. permanent resident status, which makes him eligible to donate to McAuliffe’s campaign,” the Post reported on Tuesday.
But the 2009 donations to McAuliffe’s campaign, possibly from foreign nationals, may represent an even bigger legal and political problem for McAuliffe, as Cause of Action reported in 2013:
Shortly thereafter [in August 2009], [Charles] Wang’s company [Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corporation] merged with what is now GreenTech and McAuliffe was named Chairman.
As GreenTech Chairman, in an email to then-Governor Haley Barbour, McAuliffe cited efforts by U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) to pressure the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas into fast-tracking EB-5 visa applications that would provide Chinese investments for GreenTech.
McAuliffe sent numerous emails to Director Mayorkas and Douglas Smith, Departmentof Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for the Office of the Private Sector, expressing frustration with USCIS’ slow visa approval process. Smith attendedGreenTech’s groundbreaking at its temporary Horn Lake facility, where McAuliffe also privately met with President Bill Clinton and Chinese investors.
Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Funds Management (Gulf Coast) the country’s largest Regional Center for processing EB-5 investments, and the manager of EB-5 investments for GreenTech.
Cause of Action also found that the 2009 donations to the McAuliffe campaigns raised questions about the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-governmental agency whose governing body includes a direct representative of the Secretary of State:
Because HKAC [Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corporation] was foreign-controlled, its merger with GreenTech should have triggered a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
CFIUS is an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S.business by a foreign person in order to determine the effect of such transactions on national security.
However, whether CFIUS reviewed the HKAC-GreenTech merger is unclear because CFIUS, in response to CoA’s Freedom of Information Act request, refused to confirm or deny the existence of records related to the merger. Additionally, GreenTech has not responded to inquiries about the issue.
Consequently, the public can only speculate whether GreenTech has evaded government oversight by exerting its political influence.
McAuliffe served as Chairman of GreenTech from October 2009 until he quietly left the company in December 2012, a resignation that was not publicly announced for at least four months.
McAuliffe is still listed as the “Chairman Emeritus” of GreenTech and as the company’s largest individual shareholder.
As Breitbart News reported previously, the propriety of the CFIUS approval of a deal in which a Russian company obtained control of a significant percentage of America’s uranium deposits, owned at the time by a Canadian company controlled by Frank Giustra, a leading donor to the Clinton Foundation, at a time when Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State and one of her subordinates served on the CFIUS panel has been questioned.
GreenTech subsequently merged with VL Automotive. To date, however, the company appears to have sold very few automobiles.
Breitbart News has reported extensively on the intertwined relationship between GreenTech, Terry McAuliffe, and various agencies of the federal government during the period from 2009 to 2013 when McAuliffe’s close ally Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State.
Breitbart News also reported that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s brother, Anthony Rodham, was a key player in raising money for McAuliffe’s GreenTech enterprise through the use of EB-5 visa programs:
Gulf Coast Funds Management has played a critical role in GreenTech Automotive Inc.’s financing plan, which depends on raising capital from foreign nationals who participate in the EB-5 program. Under that program, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Gulf Coast Funds Management is authorized to “work with investors in the [GreenTech Automotive Inc.] project through the EB-5 program, which offers foreign investors two-year green cards for themselves and their immediate families for $500,000 investments that create at least 10 jobs.”
Shortly after Virginia based American Immigration Center LLC took a controlling interest in Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC, Anthony Rodham, younger brother of Hillary Clinton, was named CEO of Gulf Coast Funds Management. The company’s offices were moved from New Orleans to a Tysons Corner, Virginia office which it currently shares with WM GreenTech Automotive Corp., the parent company of GreenTech Automotive Inc.
In 2013, as Breitbart News reported, DHS official Alejandro Mayorkas was investigated for his dealings with McAuliffe:
Mayorkas is the target of an investigation launched by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security into allegations that he improperly overruled a decision to deny a visa to a Chinese national. The indivdual was invested in Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive, a startup manufacturer of electric vehicles, through the controversial EB-5 program. . .
The Associated Press story also reported that the probe was launched based on a complaint first identified by the FBI that Mayorkas “helped a financing company run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to win approval for an investor visa, even after the application was denied and an appeal was rejected.” . . .
Mr. Mayorkas was asked if he had ever met with Terry McAuliffe to discuss his complaints that the USCIS was not moving fast enough to rule in favor of his request to extend the authority of the EB-5 regional center that GreenTech Automotive controls, Gulf Coast Funds Management, beyond the states of Louisiana and Mississippi into Tennessee and Louisiana.
Mr. Mayorkas confirmed that he had in fact met with Mr. McAuliffe to discuss these concerns.
“I was asked to attend a meeting with Mr McAuliffe so I could hear his complaints and I heard those complaints and that was the extent of the interaction,” Mayorkas told the committee.
Mayorkas testified that his meeting with McAuliffe had “absolutely not” influenced his decision on Gulf Coast Funds Management’s request to extend its geographic reach to Tennessee and Virginia.
“I do remember returning to the office and complaining about how I had to hear complaints,” he told the committee. . . .
Mayorkas has served as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since 2009, where he has the statutory authority to manage the controversial EB-5 investor program, established by Congress in 1990. Under that program, foreign nationals are able to obtain temporary and permanent resident green card visas for themselves and their immediate family members in return for the investment of a minimum of $500,000 in an American company…
The communications between Anthony Rodham and Mr. Mayorkas are at the center of the Inspector General Office’s investigation.
As “shocking” as the headlines of an FBI investigation were to Gov. McAuliffe when news of it broke on Monday, there may be more shocking headlines ahead for the long-time Clinton confidante.
With friend and ally Hillary Clinton already under investigation by the FBI in another probe for her use of unsecure emails while Secretary of State, still mired in a contentious race with Sen. Bernie Sanders to secure the Democratic nomination for president, and with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump hitting hard on the “Crooked Hillary” theme, more negative headlines for McAuliffe, especially those that include the Clinton name, could have an impact on the 2016 campaign for President.