The Corner

Why Virginians Can’t Trust Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe’s recent Washington Post op-ed concerning GreenTech Automotive fails to answer serious questions about his failed leadership of the company and serves as a case study in the differences between us. 

First off, what was most revealing about the piece was not what it said, but what it didn’t say. Nowhere in the op-ed, for instance, did McAuliffe explain statements by multiple former GreenTech employees – expressed to numerous publications including The Washington Post – that they were instructed to pretend to assemble vehicles when foreign investors toured the Horn Lake plant. If true, and if those investors relied on what they saw in deciding to invest, then that would be classic fraud.

What role did then–GreenTech chairman Terry McAuliffe have in those employees’ being told to pretend to assemble cars? He conveniently skipped over this subject in his op-ed.

And while McAuliffe continues to refuse to answer questions, GreenTech has once again denied media requests to tour the plant — this despite McAuliffe’s claims he is proud of the company. In reality, McAuliffe’s refusal to stand up and answer questions is a clear admission he believes the claims made by both executives and employees against GreenTech’s business practices developed and executed under his chairmanship can’t be defended outside highly scripted settings and sheltered fora.

McAuliffe also failed to offer a logical and serious response to accusations made by his former business partner Charles Wang. Among other comments, Wang said politicians such as McAuliffe are “dangerous to business.” A company executive also stated GreenTech’s production timeline was affected by the former Democrat National Committee chairman’s desire to add “job creator” to his campaign résumé.

My opponent also chose not to explain accusations about how he sought and received a White House meeting scheduled by Vice President Biden and/or his staff. The former DNC chairman sat down with the very staffer who was behind the Solyndra taxpayer boondoggle and, to no one’s surprise, the accuracy of McAuliffe’s initial “recollection” of what transpired in the meeting seriously conflicts with what actually took place.

Going further, I did not find any mention in McAuliffe’s op-ed of the fact that career officials at the Department of Homeland Security have explicitly stated that McAuliffe and GreenTech were given preferential treatment in visa processing, despite a press release from him stating he never sought nor received special treatment from the Obama administration.

All of this comes down to trust. No one is perfect. Each of us makes mistakes. But the difference is how we deal with those issues when they arise. When I have erred, I have stepped forward, owned my mistakes, and publicly addressed the questions surrounding them. In fact, in one recent instance, I went one step further and had them independently reviewed by a Democratic prosecutor, and in the end, I was fully cleared. That stands in stark contrast to my opponent’s behavior.

In fact, stunningly, in his op-ed, McAuliffe actually wrote that he was “not responsible” for actions GreenTech undertook while he was chairman! This is despite the fact that some of these actions have led to an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To credibly argue stances on the critical issues confronting Virginians, including the economy, jobs, and education, one must be trustworthy. I believe my opponent has demonstrated a proclivity to be less than honest (to characterize it generously), and has skirted the truth consistently for many years. And herein lies a key difference between us. There will always be citizens in Virginia who differ from me on one issue or another, but agree or disagree, they will always know where I stand. In good times and bad, I will stand up and tell the truth – and I have a history of doing just that. 

Terry McAuliffe has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to meet that basic standard. If he is unable to do so as a candidate, why should anyone believe he would do so as the Commonwealth’s chief executive officer? 

— Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II is the attorney general of Virginia and the Republican candidate for governor.

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