According to sources at the AP the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which overseas the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program, Alejandro Mayorkas is under investigation by Homeland Security's Inspector General Office for his role in helping secure a visa for a Chinese executive and along with other officials at USCIS may have also obstructed an audit by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the EB-5 investor visa program.
In an email sent to lawmakers the primary complaint concerns Director Mayorkas's role in helping Gulf Coast Funds Management, an EB-5 Regional Center partially owned by Anthony Rodham, the brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, obtain approval for a wealthy Chinese executive's application for residency after the application for residency had been denied by officials within USCIS and the appeal was later rejected.
Gulf Coast is the investment and funding vehicle for Green Tech Automotive, a car manufacturing plant based in Mississippi that was until recently being run by McAuliffe who is also running for governor of Virginia. According to NBC news sources, one of the applications for U.S. residency was a vice president of Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications firm that was the subject of a House Intelligence Committee investigation regarding ties to Chinese intelligence services.
The email states that at the moment there are no "findings of criminal misconduct" nor did it specify if any criminal activity took place. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the investigation is in its preliminary stages and referred further questions to the DHS's IG office. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to the FBI requesting details of the investigation into the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program and Chinese investment into U.S. infrastructure projects.
According to the AP, the FBI in Washington had been concerned about the investor visa program and projects funded by foreign sources since at least March. The agency wanted details of all of the LLC's that had been created using foreign funding, in particular, Chinese investments in projects such as the building of an FBI facility. In a letter released by Senator Grassley's office to DHS Secretary Napolitano, the Senator asked for details about USCIS's handling of the investor's application and quoted from an internal agency email describing Gulf Coast as a "politically well connected company" noting the involvement of Rodham and McAuliffe.
"Let's just say that we have a significant issue that my higher ups are really concerned about and this may be addressed way above my pay grade," the official wrote. The FBI official's name was redacted in the email.
Director Mayorkas had come under scrutiny previously for his role in President Clinton's commuting of the prison sentence of the son of a wealthy Democratic Party donor. Hugh Rodham, another brother of Hillary Clinton, had been hired by the California donor to lobby for the commutation, at which point Mayorkas had become involved. At the time Mayorkas was a former U.S. attorney in California and he later admitted to lawmakers during his 2009 confirmation hearing that it had "been a mistake" to approach the White House with the request.
Director Mayorkas was recently nominated by President Obama to be the second highest ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is due to appear before the Senate for his confirmation on Thursday before the Security and Government Relations committee. If confirmed as DHS's deputy secretary it is most likely that he would be responsible for running the Department until a permanent replacement could be found for departing secretary Janet Napolitano. Efforts are now underway by the GOP to postpone the hearing until the investigation is completed.
"We do not want this to go forward," said an aide to Sen. Tom Coburn, the ranking Republican on the panel. During the course of the probe, the email states, the inspector general learned of other allegations "involving alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of position, mismanagement of the EB-5 program, and an appearance of impropriety by Mayorkas and other" officials within the UCSIS.
Here is the full text of the email:
The DHS OIG is investigating Director Mayorkas. Director Mayorkas was not specifically named in the initial complaint; however, the DHS OIG is now investigating allegations concerning the actions/conduct of Director Mayorkas and other USCIS management officials.
This investigation has been open since September 2012. DHS OIG's investigation was initiated based on an investigative referral submitted by a FBI Analyst, Counterintelligence Unit, Washington, DC. The complaint was forwarded to a DHS-OIG employee who subsequently referred it to the DHS OIG Hotline.
Initial allegations were that (1) USCIS managers and counsel directed employees to obstruct an OIG audit and (2) a (unnamed) USCIS Director personally facilitated and assisted an applicant/petitioner with an EB-5 visa approval after the petitioner was initially found to be ineligible for the program.
Preliminary investigative findings determined that the alleged obstruction was by the USCIS Office of General Counsel and related to an audit/investigation of the EB-5 program being conducted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), rather than a DHS OIG audit; and clarified that Director Mayorkas allegedly assisted with the approval of an application submitted on behalf of Gulf Coast Funds Management (GCFM), a Regional Center applicant under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, after GCFM's application was denied by the USCIS California Service Center and the denial was upheld by the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).
During the course of the DHS-OIG investigation, subsequent allegations have been indentified involving alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of position, mismanagement of the EB-5 program, and an appearance of impropriety by Mayorkas and other USCIS management officials.
At this point in our investigation, we do not have any findings of criminal misconduct.
We are unaware of whether Mayorkas is aware that we have an investigation.
In response to a June 2013 inquiry from the FBI Washington Field Office, Investigative Operations (reportedly conducting a background investigation on behalf of the White House), the DHS OIG advised of the investigation involving alleged misconduct by Mayorkas.
The DHS OIG also has an ongoing audit regarding the EB-5 program. The audit was started in August of last year and is in its final stages of field work.