Questions continue to swirl around GreenTech, the car firm from which Democrat Terry McAuliffe quietly resigned last year. GreenTech was supposed to be the next big thing in environmentally friendly cars, but when Virginia authorities looked into whether the state ought to provide it incentives to locate there — where McAuliffe is running for governor — the state determined that the business did not look viable, and its leadership had no experience manufacturing or selling cars. The Virginian-Pilot frames the tale well.
Terry McAuliffe, the longtime national Democratic operative and self-described business “hustler,” has returned for an encore after his unsuccessful 2009 bid for the governor’s mansion. Seven months before the election, McAuliffe’s business behavior has raised all kinds of questions, few of which he has managed to answer satisfactorily.
Most of the questions concern his association with a would-be electric vehicle manufacturer. GreenTech Automotive was supposed to be a critical element of McAuliffe’s business case for electoral victory.
Instead, it increasingly appears to be an albatross that his campaign is trying to downplay.
Other than offering evidence that McAuliffe supports alternative-fueled vehicles and is willing to wade into a risky business venture during a recession, the affiliation offers voters little reason for confidence in McAuliffe’s business prowess.
His claims that Virginia economic development officials weren’t interested in bringing a GreenTech manufacturing plant to Virginia during the administrations of McDonnell or his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, have been dismantled. As Politifact and others have reported, documents show the company didn’t press its case to Virginia officials, and those officials raised serious concerns about the company’s viability and operational abilities.
McAuliffe and company ended up locating GreenTech in Mississippi, where they have proceeded to create virtually no jobs or cars despite the state taxpayer-funded incentives that attracted them there ostensibly to create jobs for the state.
Part of the GreenTech plan involved attracting foreign capital through the EB-5 visa program. Investors could invest $500,000 in GreenTech, in exchange for visas to live in the US. The Washington Post, which has been cheerleading for McAuliffe’s run, dismisses any national security concerns over essentially selling visas to wealthy foreigners, but still manages to figure out that McAuliffe and GreenTech do have some problems.
Although Mr. McAuliffe resigned as GreenTech’s chairman late last year, it would produce a stench if it turns out that GreenTech’s raison d’etre turns out to be little more than a magnet for cheap foreign capital, without realistic prospects of producing cars, jobs or profit. Suspicions have been further raised by the fact that GreenTech, with federal approval, set up its own EB-5 regional investment center in Mississippi to attract foreign capital — for itself and possibly other firms. The management of that center includes several of Mr. McAuliffe’s political allies.
Crony capitalism, in other words. The appearance now is that GreenTech is a boondoggle set up to pull in money from various sources including the taxpayers, with little in the way of a substantive plan to turn that money into a viable, job-creating company. McAuliffe and his allies would get rich paying themselves from the investments, then quietly extract themselves from the company at some point down the road. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.