The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

McAuliffe: I’m Chairman, but I Don’t Make the Decisions


In Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign is making a big deal about one of Terry McAuliffe’s companies, GreenTech Automotive.

In 2009, electric-car company GreenTech Automotive decided to locate its manufacturing plant in Mississippi instead of Virginia — pledging to bring at least 1,500 jobs to that state.

Asked why McAuliffe’s company picked Mississippi instead of Virginia, the Democratic candidate contended that officials at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership — the state’s business recruitment agency — weren’t interested. “They decided they didn’t want to bid on it.”

PolitiFact Virginia extensively reviewed the state records and came to the opposite conclusion:

Records showed VEDP staff were interested in the project and were in the process of its due diligence when GreenTech moved ahead with a plant in Mississippi.

VEDP had “grave concerns” about GreenTech’s business plan. The agency said GreenTech Agency officials had no “demonstrated experience” in manufacturing cars. It doubted the company’s job estimates. It questioned the ethics of GreenTech’s plan to raise money from foreign investors in exchange for U.S. residency.

The record shows that VEDP asked GreenTech to address its concerns and waited in vain for replies. Without those answers, VEDP would not negotiate monetary support for that, or any, project.Contrary to McAuliffe’s claim, there is no evidence the state agency decided not to bid on the project.

Emails show VEDP took GreenTech officials on a tour of potential sites and contacted the company about coming to Virginia almost two years after GreenTech announced it was building a plant in Mississippi.

We rate McAuliffe’s statement False.

The topic may or may not turn out to be a big deal in the year ahead, but McAuliffe was asked about it and is now offering a new spin — it wasn’t his fault, somebody else made the decision.

“They made the decision, the company made the decision,” McAuliffe told a radio host Friday.

McAuliffe must be the most strangely powerless chairman of a company ever.

Tags: GreenTech , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia


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