Virginia’s Fears of a ‘Visa-for-Sale Scheme’
Economic advisers to Tim Kaine had concerns about McAuliffe’s green-car company.

Terry McAuliffe


Jim Geraghty

Just last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges and an asset freeze against two companies and an alleged scam artist living in Illinois; allegedly, these parties were behind a scheme to defraud 261 Chinese investors seeking profitable returns and a legal path to U.S. residency through a federal visa program. The SEC charges describe a “green energy” angle to that alleged scheme as well, as investors were told that they would be financing construction of the “‘World’s First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified’ hotel and conference center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.”


McAuliffe stepped down from GreenTech’s board in December 2012, but didn’t mention publicly that he had done so. In fact, at least seven days after GreenTech’s CEO accepted McAuliffe’s resignation as chairman, he continued to talk about the company with the pronoun “we” — “we wanted to,” “our headquarters are here,” “we had meetings,” “I have to go where the incentives are.”

Aside from the fear that GreenTech’s EB-5 efforts were designed to help the company effectively “sell” U.S. residency visas, Virginia officials had good reason to be wary of the company’s prospects. On October 22, 2009, Mike Lehmkuhler, the vice president of business attraction at VEDP, assessed GreenTech’s hurdles in withering fashion:

The sales forecasts suggest a completely successful start-up, despite

no brand recognition

no demonstrated vehicle performance

no safety and fuel economy certification from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

no emissions approval from the EPA

no established distribution network

no demonstrated automotive industry experience within the executive management team

All of this was to manufacture a product with a quite limited market. Almost no media coverage of GreenTech mentioned the limits of the GreenTech Automotive product: “MyCar is a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle in the U.S., but can be adapted to 45mph for in Europe. NEVs are low-speed vehicles; and depending upon the state you live in are limited, by law, to 25–35 mph. No highway driving, please.”

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.