Terry McAuliffe’s car company, GreenTech Automotive, is suing the investigative-journalism nonprofit Watchdog.org for libel, seeking $85 million in damages.
“Specifically, as a direct and express result of the articles published by Defendants … investors are wavering in their commitment to provide $25 million in investments already promised to GTA,” the lawsuit said. “GTA … intended to raise $60 million in capital, (and) is now in significant danger as a direct result of the loss of investor confidence in GTA arising from the publication of Defendants’ articles.”
Watchdog.org cited the same documents I did yesterday, with one difference; they quoted an expert who used the term “fraud.”
Attorneys for GreenTech have contacted us and asked for a retraction of our April 1 and April 3 articles. In particular, they object to the use of the term “fraud” in our reporting. Lest there be any confusion about the point of our articles, we have updated them. To be clear, our articles were not intended to (and did not) accuse GreenTech of committing fraud. Instead, the articles pointed out that the federal EB-5 visa program — which trades U.S. green cards for business investments and which GreenTech has used as a source of capital — has lax oversight, is prone to abuse and fraud, and cannot possibly deliver on its promises to taxpayers and investors. Our articles also quoted sources who criticized GreenTech’s reliance on the EB-5 program — the same criticism that Virginia officials leveled against the company in 2009. We stand by our reporting about the EB-5 program and will continue to investigate this important story. — Editors
If you had a cynical mind, what would you suspect about this lawsuit?
If you wish to help out the good folks at the Franklin Center and Watchdog.org, you can do so here.
UPDATE: GOP lieutenant-governor candidate Pete Snyder moved fast, issuing the following statement regarding the decision by Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech to sue Watchdog.org over a blog post:
No one should be surprised that Terry McAuliffe and his sputtering company are blaming their business failures on a non-profit organization for scrutinizing their mismanagement. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from a Washington insider. Thanks to an amazing team, I’ve been able to build two very successful businesses based in the Commonwealth and create hundreds of good-paying Virginia jobs. I’ve also raised capital and dealt with investors — and trust me, it’s not a blog post that scared investors from GreenTech, it’s McAuliffe’s mismanagement and the fact that GreenTech hasn’t lived up to his hype or created the jobs and cars he promised. Terry is out of his league playing CEO, and clearly he would be out of his league trying to play Chief Executive of Virginia. Just like Terry’s lost investors, Virginia voters see Terry’s management skills as a risky investment.
I wonder if GreenTech’s lawyers will sue over that.