- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office rebuffed interview requests with a federal agent investigating the U.S. government’s investor visa program, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General twice asked McAuliffe for an interview in the summer of 2014 but said in a recent report that the efforts were “unsuccessful.”

A senior special agent in the inspector general’s office emailed McAuliffe’s office on July 3, 2014, indicating that agent had called a month earlier asking for an interview.

“I am following-up via email because a decision from the governor’s office regarding the DHS-OIG request is still pending,” the email said, which the AP obtained through a public records request.

The interview never took place. McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy told The AP the governor was too busy “running the commonwealth” to sit down with investigators but offered to provide any specific information agents needed. Coy said investigators did not submit requests for specific information.

“On advice of his lawyers, that was the way they recommended he proceed,” Coy said.

State records show McAuliffe went on seven out-of-state trips for political or personal reasons in the summer of 2014, including a vacation to the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean. Other personal trips included two to New York state and one to Orlando, Florida, in August.

The OIG’s report, issued last week, said no laws were broken, but Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas improperly intervened on behalf of foreign investors seeking U.S. visas in three cases involving prominent Democrats. They include McAuliffe before he became governor, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Before he was elected governor in 2013, McAuliffe headed a small electric-car company that set up operations in north Mississippi. Part of its business plan was to recruit wealthy foreign investors under the EB-5 visa program with the help of a company run by Tony Rodham, the youngest brother of likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The OIG report shows that McAuliffe expressed dissatisfaction with several DHS officials about the slow pace in approving more than 200 investor visas.

McAuliffe has said he did nothing wrong but only advocated aggressively as a private citizen on behalf of one of his business interests.

Federal agents indicated they may have had a clearer picture of what occurred if they’d been able to interview McAuliffe. The OIG report highlights inconsistencies between Mayorkas’ recollection of a meeting he had with McAuliffe in February 2011. Mayorkas said he was in a “listen-only mode” at his meeting with McAuliffe, but the OIG report said McAuliffe “believed Mr. Mayorkas promised an expedited review” of visa applications based on an email McAuliffe sent months later.

“We found no contemporaneous record of what was discussed at the meeting, and we were unsuccessful in our attempts to interview McAuliffe,” the report said.

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