- - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A visa to get into the United States is precious, and a lot of people would pay a lot of money for one. A visa can be a pass through the backdoor into America. Responsible governments don’t sell them to raise campaign cash. But the Obama administration may have been selling citizenship to the highest bidder in a tawdry and complicated tale of business-as-usual in what the president said would be the “most transparent and ethical administration in U.S. history.”

The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security last week revealed an investigation into how a wealthy Chinese businessman, who shouldn’t have received a visa, got one anyway after he wrote a big check to an investment firm called Gulf Coast Funds Management. The firm is operated by one Anthony Rodham, the brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and its primary function has been to dispense cash to GreenTech Automotive, the electric-car company until recently chaired by Terry McAuliffe, a longtime associate of Hillary and Bubba and the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia. GreenTech shares a mailing address with Mr. Rodham’s Gulf Coast Funds Management.

Keep your eye on the ball here: Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, wants to know the exact role that Alejandro Mayorkas, the president’s nominee to be the deputy director of Homeland Security, played in approving the visa application. Mr. Grassley released copies of emails from lower-level Department of Homeland Security officials who were concerned that an executive with the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies was trying to buy a visa through Gulf Coast. “This is the same company that in September was forced to testify on the Hill concerning espionage,” an email in February warned. “I highly recommend that this information be considered prior to granting the expedite request to this Regional Center.” Nobody took the advice.

The department treated Mr. McAuliffe like a VIP. GreenTech had said it was about to open a major manufacturing facility in Virginia, which would have aided Mr. McAuliffe in his race for governor. The factory went to Mississippi instead. Mr. McAuliffe promised that the company would have a thousand employees and produce more than 10,000 cars this year. So far, jobs have been almost as scarce as a hand crank on a Cadillac.

GreenTech’s business model relies on the company’s ability to lure foreign investors by helping them obtain EB-5 visas, which are granted to wealthy foreigners who invest $500,000 or more in an American enterprise. An official in the administration of Tim Kaine, the governor then and a Democrat, was so spooked by the arrangement that she warned colleagues in 2009 that she couldn’t “get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications that we have no way to confirm or discount.”

Mr. McAuliffe reaches out to the “1 percent” in China and allows them to cut to the front of the immigration line in return for cash to fund the company that he, until recently, operated. Citizenship is still important to a lot of us, and the government shouldn’t use citizenship with visas as bait to lure investors to businesses with close ties to the political party in power. Congress should add the visa-for-sale scheme to the growing list of the Obama scandals that demand further investigation.

The Washington Times