A Bumpy Stretch for McAuliffe

Once billed as evidence of his business acumen, an electric-car company has become a headache for the Virginia Democrat

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Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post/Getty Images

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe

Corrections appended, Aug. 15

When he launched his bid to become governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe billed his recent stint at an electric-car company as evidence of his business acumen. Instead, the Democratic nominee’s ties to the company are emerging as a potential liability ahead of the November election.

McAuliffe’s campaign has been haunted by a swirl of controversy surrounding GreenTech Automotive, which has drawn criticism from Republicans for its failure to hit sales, production and job targets. The headache intensified this month when several news outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, reported that GreenTech was entangled in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Earlier this month, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa released documents “raising questions” about whether a government official nominated to a top Homeland Security post had allegedly provided “preferential treatment” to McAuliffe’s company. The SEC, citing internal policy, declined to confirm or deny to TIME whether reports that the commission was investigating the company were accurate.

McAuliffe, a former Democratic Party chairman and close friend of President Bill Clinton, has denied wrongdoing, as have GreenTech executives. But politicos in the commonwealth say the questions enveloping the venture could affect the Democrat’s chances in a tight race against Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Republican attorney general.

Democrats in the state are “beginning to question Terry’s role in not just GreenTech, but also other ventures and activities,” says Virginia Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, who suggests the probes could depress Democratic turnout. “In a low-turnout election, which I fully expect this one to be, the greatest political tool is enthusiastic support of the ground,” Saunders says. “How Terry is going to regain that enthusiasm in less than 100 days is beyond me.”

McAuliffe’s tenure as chairman of GreenTech, based in Horn Lake, Miss., ended in December 2012. (His departure from the company was revealed in April.) By then, it had become clear the firm was falling far short of its sales and production forecasts. Company officials, like Democratic operatives, have sought to cast the company’s struggles as common in a weak economy. “There are are a lot of small business owners who are finding that the success of their business is happening more slowly than they originally would have liked, than they would have predicted,” says Mo Elleithee, the DNC’s communications director. “To call anyone in that position a failure just demonstrates to me a lack of understanding business.”

Cuccinelli has been dogged by damaging ties of his own. Virginia’s Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, has been rocked by investigations into whether a wealthy donor provided he and his family large, unreported gifts. In a close race between two flawed candidates, observers don’t see the bumpy stretch for the Democrat’s business as a decisive factor. “McAuliffe isn’t doomed by GreenTech any more than Cuccinelli is finished” because of his ties to the same McDonnell donor, says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “My summary of the Virginia governor’s race so far: I’ll see your scandal and raise you an embarrassment.”

Due to an editor’s error, the original version of this story was posted unedited. It incorrectly stated that GreenTech was under investigation by the SEC for alleged visa fraud. The story also incorrectly reported that GreenTech was under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly conspiring with immigration officials. 

32 comments
edrebber
edrebber

One McAuliffe Chinese National investor was initially denied a visa because of his political associations and deprived McAuliffe $500,000.  A call from McAlliffe to Biden's office secured a meeting Napalitano and Mayorkas, who promptly overturned the decision because they said so.

PLauren
PLauren

He's the old guard. The back slappers..Of The corrupt Tammany Hall type politicos....the Democrat party leadership has formed its own Southern Strategy, and it begins with positioning McAuliffe in Virginia......Don't do it Virginia , even if you have to hold your nose...don't take this bait.

JohnBrown
JohnBrown

Greentech. Just another one of Obama Green corruption companies that have all gone belly up. Their employees are in the UNEMPLOYMENT lines and on foodstamps, but while the tens of billions of stimulous money have disappeared as the green corruption companies have gone belly up. The campaign contributers and other Obama hangers on, like McAuliffe ,have done very very well indeed. How is it that tens of billions disappear in a cloud of bankruptices, but the guys at the top walk away with millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions? How is it that failing and failed companies make so many so rich even though most of the money came from the taxpayers courtesy of Obama? Ask Mr McAuliffe, he can tell you. By the way a vote for him is a vote for Obama. If you love Obama, Obamacare, UNEMPLOYMENT, DEBT, and DECLINE. If you are ok with Obama gutting the 2nd amendment and banning all gun ownership in the United States than by all means for Mr McAuliffe. A vote for McAuliffe is a vote for Obama. McAuliffe owes Obama.....a lot!    Greentech....and people though it was about renewal energy and green technology.  Same old con politicians like Obama and McAuliffe have been using for centuries.  LOL!

tpaine
tpaine

How did Terry McAuliffe go from a net worth of few million to hundreds of millions under Obama's "crony socialism."  I have a suspicion the same way Al Gore did - fleecing the taxpayers.

HenryCrum
HenryCrum

If ever there was a time for a third party candidate, the Virginia Governor's race is it. Is the Libertarian candidate there at all competent?

chapalody
chapalody

The writing was on the wall. The problem was no one was reading it. There's no market for green jobs or electric cars no matter how much wheeling and dealing goes on behind closed doors. No one can shove any product down the throats of the private sector if there's no market for it and at the present time there's no market for electric cars. Obama has runned into the same problem funding all the green businesses that went bankrupt leaving the taxpayer with the bill. Has Obama learned from his mistakes? Not at all. He continues to fund a product there's no market for and continues to shove his green jobs down the throats of the private sector because it's what he wants, not what there's a demand for.

SallyMullikin
SallyMullikin

Mudcat Saunders is a good friend of Cuccinelli's so his opinion does not count. 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"Cuccinelli has been dogged by damaging ties of his own. Virginia’s Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, has been rocked by investigations into whether a wealthy donor provided he and his family large, unreported gifts."


God forbid you valueless cretins should talk about either man's policy positions. Cuccinelli, for instance, is a apparently a misogynistic knuckle-dragger who still doesn't believe in global warming science. No wonder this is the most clueless, backward and politically dysfunctional nation in the industrialized world. I'd call you a disgrace to your profession if your shallow political idiocy weren't the norm instead of the exception.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/can-climate-change-denier-ken-cuccinelli-win-a-swing-state-20130303

paulejb
paulejb

Typical liberal media. McAuliffe operates a "Green" scam and his compared to his Republican opponent who is charged with guilt by association. I thought liberals despised guilt by association.

paulejb
paulejb

What a Democrat knows about private enterprise is just how much they can screw out of the long suffering taxpayers. They are expert at crony socialism.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Seems like this should be a 'none of the above' election with 'lesser of evil' choice.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Terry is a mediocre candidate, however the zealot running against him who wants to make oral and anal sex illegal and use state funds for religious education is even worse.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@tpaine Al Gore did worse. He paved the way for the Islamic propaganda mouthpiece Al Jazeera into the country by selling his Current TV. Wont be surprise if that was already planned.

SallyMullikin
SallyMullikin

@chapalody We have an electric car charging station at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond and the owner of James River Air proudly drives one. 

princeliberty
princeliberty

@shepherdwong  "Misogynistic knuckle-dragger" - uh talking about being totally full it.

Just insulting someone with baseless language is just plain dumb.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@shepherdwong I think you are being too kind to Cuccinelli's policy positions. 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@paulejb"I thought liberals despised guilt by association."

It's called bribery, you partisan idiot.

Izzy3
Izzy3

@mantisdragon91 

Bill Clinton, a close friend of Terry, said he would not buy a used car from him.

princeliberty
princeliberty

@mantisdragon91 No one running is supporting a return to the old sodomy laws.  That's just slander from Terry and running baseless attacks like that demonstrate he is unfit for public office.

4982ap
4982ap

@princeliberty @mantisdragon91 princeliberty actually, as state attorney general cuccinelli personally asked the scotus to reinstate virginia's sodomy law. Easy to look up. 

4982ap
4982ap

 @reallife @mantisdragon91 reallife, just because you don't get any oral sex because you are disgusting, doesn't mean you should try and ban it for everyone.