Remember the Democrats' withering attacks on Mitt Romney for his business dealings in China and holdings in the Caribbean? The tables have turned. Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe faces attacks from Republicans over his former leadership of an electric car company called GreenTech Automotive, which originally sought to establish its manufacturing base in Virginia but later landed in Tunica, Miss.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating GreenTech, and Republicans have pounced on McAuliffe for seeking out Chinese investors, lobbing charges of potential national security risks at the Democrat.
The SEC inquiry centers around GreenTech's use of a U.S. visa program commonly known as EB-5, which provides visas to foreign investors who invest more than $500,000 in American companies.
On Thursday, the conservative opposition-research super PAC America Rising requested that McAuliffe and Charles Wang, current CEO of GreenTech, release all records and documents the company gave to federal investigators.
McAuliffe left GreenTech in December 2012 but retains a significant ownership stake. In a statement this week said he "has no knowledge of any investigation" and if "there are concerns as to whether procedures were properly followed, those concerns should be examined and I'm glad the company said it is cooperating fully."
In a letter to McAuliffe and Wang, America Rising pointed out that McAuliffe himself asked for a similar disclosure from then-president George W. Bush in 2002, when Harken Energy, of which Bush was a director in 1990, faced investigation from the SEC. (Ultimately, Bush was cleared of any wrongdoing.)
"Today, President Bush offered his third and latest explanation over his role in Harken Energy's questionable business practices. Every day, more questions arise," McAuliffe said in 2002. "President Bush should stop refusing to release his SEC files and let the American people, and not his lawyers, decide what is relevant."
Four Separate Companies
GreenTech's enterprise is a complicated one, involving at least four separate companies.
The first company is Capital Wealth Holdings, which owns a majority stake in American-based GreenTech. Capital Wealth is owned by a group of investors, controlled by CEO Charles Wang and incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
McAuliffe owns the rest of GreenTech, according to a filing with the state of Mississippi. He still retains a 25 percent stake in the company, according to the campaign, while Capitol Wealth owns 75 percent.
Then there's Gulf Coast Funds Management, which assists GreenTech in gaining investments and helping investors obtain visas. It is helmed by president and CEO Tony Rodham, brother of former secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Gulf Coast established itself as an approved regional center in Mississippi for attracting foreign investments in exchange for EB-5 visas; it solicits those investments for GreenTech and seeks approval for those who invest over $500,000. Gulf Coast shares an office address with GreenTech in McLean, Va.
And then there's the third company, American Immigration Center, described as GreenTech's "sister company" in emails to the Virginia Economic Development partnership by Gary Tang, GreenTech executive vice president. American Immigration Center owns Gulf Coast Funds Management, Tang wrote to the Virginia officials in an email.