Democrats in the news

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Big Money

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He has channeled his connections with the Democrat Party to make millions, at the expense of jobs.

Terry McAuliffe’s role in a national controversy over an immigrant investor program to fund GreenTech, the Mississippi electric car company he founded, is only the latest chapter in the Democrat’s long history of mixing politics with his personal business interests.

It is a habit that may have benefited his pocket but could threaten his chances of moving into Virginia’s Executive Mansion next year.

McAuliffe tried to obtain EB-5 visas by using a financing company run by a brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The federal EB-5 immigration program allows foreigners who invest $500,000 into new enterprises in rural or struggling regions, or $1 million in new enterprises in any region, to receive U.S. residency if at least 10 full-time jobs are created within two years as a result of the investment.

McAuliffe repeatedly appealed to officials in the Department of Homeland Security, including Secretary Janet Napolitano, for help in getting visas for his company’s investors.

“Terry, like many business and political officials from both parties, was frustrated with the bureaucratic pace of the investment program,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said.

“There has been widespread frustration, and Terry was among those who expressed frustration with that bureaucracy when he and some colleagues, including counsel, met with Mr. Mayorkas, director of USCIS,” Schwerin said.

Obama has nominated Mayorkas for the No. 2 spot at the Department of Homeland Security.

Mayorkas is under investigation by the Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office for his role in helping Anthony Rodham’s company get approval for an investor visa after it had been turned down.
McAuliffe’s entanglement in the EB-5 visa controversy is only the latest in the career of a man who has made millions as an investor, who raised millions more for Democrats, and who has never considered it wrong to mix business and politics.

“I’ve met all of my business contacts through politics. It’s all interrelated,” he said in a 1999 interview with The New York Times.

Larry Sabato, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said that McAuliffe has had enough business controversies “for any 10 regular people.”
McAuliffe, who grew up in Syracuse, was 14 years old and on his way home from the golf course where he worked as a caddy when he decided he would start his own business — McAuliffe Driveway Maintenance — a company that would seal the driveways in the neighborhood before the long winters in upstate New York.

From an early age, he was a prodigious Democratic fundraiser.

But McAuliffe didn’t focus only on raising funds for his party; he aimed at becoming rich.

“I knew that without financial independence, I would be a slave to fate,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I figured I only needed to lock away a few million in my early twenties and then I could do my political work as a volunteer. That would buy me freedom of movement and peace of mind.”

McAuliffe got his first big-money job in 1987, when he was asked to join 17 others on the board of the newly chartered Federal City National Bank in Washington.

A year later, when the bank was in financial trouble, McAuliffe was elected chairman. He later claimed others said he was the only one who could have saved the bank.

McAuliffe was the finance director of then-Rep. Richard “Dick” Gephardt’s 1988 presidential campaign. According to The New York Times, “the committee had millions of dollars in deposits and loans” with the bank.
In the 1990s, McAuliffe became a rising star in Washington, owing much of his success to newly elected President Bill Clinton, with whom he had a close relationship.

McAuliffe and his staff reportedly raised more than $270 million for the Clintons’ campaigns and causes.

In return, Clinton granted him access to the White House and Air Force One.

In 1999, McAuliffe initially put up $1.35 million of his own money to help finance the Clintons’ purchase of their New York home.

He later was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill Clinton allowed him to mingle with Democratic Party leaders, labor union bosses, billionaires and lobbyists, adding thousands of numbers to his ever-growing Rolodex.

But he also filled his own pockets in those years. McAuliffe made more than $16 million developing a shopping center in Florida after a top labor executive he knew through the Democratic Party invested about $40 million from the union’s pension fund.

Schwerin said that the pension fund made a decision to invest — and ended up making a profit of several million dollars.
An even bigger opportunity presented itself in the late 1990s, when Gary Winnick, a California investor, offered McAuliffe the opportunity to invest in Global Crossing Holdings, a new venture seeking to operate undersea fiber-optic cables connecting the United States and Europe.
McAuliffe said he put up $100,000. In his book, he wrote that the company went public 17 months later in August 1999, “and the value of my stock skyrocketed. No one ever knew how much of the stock I sold.”

When he cashed out, he walked away with millions. The company later filed for bankruptcy.
Republicans did criticize McAuliffe for his role in Global Crossing, but McAuliffe said they were just bothered that a Democrat was rewarded for a smart investment.
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