Homeland Security Pick Is Linked to Visa for Chinese Investor

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Homeland Security Pick Is Linked to Visa for Chinese Investor


Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Homeland Security inspector general is investigating President Obama's nominee to be the No. 2 official at the department over his role in helping the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton get an immigrant visa for a Chinese investor.

Investigators have told Capitol Hill lawmakers that Alejandro Mayorkas, currently director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), is accused of ramming through a visa application for McLean-based Gulf Coast Funds Management after it was denied by CIS and that denial was confirmed by the appeals process.

Mrs. Clinton's brother Anthony Rodham is president and CEO of the company, which bundles investment monies from foreigners who want to come to America on the investors' program, known as the EB-5 visa. The visa program and its use by Chinese businesses to invest in U.S. infrastructure projects has raised security concerns in Congress and within the Obama administration.

An email that outlines the investigation was sent to members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and obtained by The Washington Times. It was first reported by The Associated Press.

Latest potential scandal

The revelation is likely to complicate, if not completely derail, confirmation prospects for Mr. Mayorkas, nominated to be the troubled department's deputy secretary and the only person Mr. Obama has nominated in his second term to one of its seven unfilled senior positions.

News of the investigation, which also likely will reopen questions about Mr. Mayorkas' involvement in the pardongate scandal at the end of the second Clinton term, could scarcely have come at a worse time. The administration has been battling a string of scandals all summer and is struggling to fill long-vacant leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security in the midst of a roiling debate about immigration reform.

The inspector general email says investigators, who initially acted on a tip from an FBI counterintelligence analyst, uncovered subsequent allegations ... involving alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of position, mismanagement of the EB-5 program, and an appearance of impropriety by [Mr.] Mayorkas and other U.S. CIS management officials.

It says there have been no findings of criminal misconduct.

Neither the White House nor Homeland Security responded to several requests for comment.

White House press secretary Jay Carney referred questions to the inspector general's office, which said the probe is in its preliminary stage and that the office doesn't comment on the specifics of investigations.

Previous concerns

Mr. Mayorkas, a former U.S. attorney in California, once faced questions about his involvement in President Clinton's commutation of the prison sentence of a Democratic Party donor's son.

Another of Mrs. Clinton's brothers, Hugh Rodham, was hired by that donor to lobby for the son's commutation, and Mr. Mayorkas asked the prosecuting U.S. attorney in Minnesota not to oppose the commutation. He told lawmakers during his 2009 confirmation hearing that it was a mistake to talk with the White House about the request.

The EB-5 visa program allows foreigners to get visas if they invest $500,000 to $1 million in projects or businesses that create jobs in America. The amount of the investment required depends on the type of project. Investors who are approved for the program can become legal permanent residents, or green card holders, after two years and then later become eligible to apply for citizenship.

Gulf Coast Financial Management is one of hundreds of companies across the country that are federally approved regional centers for the program. Regional centers pool investor money for would-be immigrants and file their visa applications.

Gulf Coast is also the finance arm of GreenTech Automotive, a company founded by Terry McAuliffe, a former Clinton fundraiser and Democratic National Committee chairman. …

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