Obama’s pick for No.2 at Homeland Security investigated over helping Chinese executive get a U.S. visa for company run by Hillary Clinton’s brother

  • Alejandro Mayorkas under investigation  for helping get an international investor visa for a Chinese  exec
  • Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham is  president and CEO of the company
  • The visa allows foreigners into the U.S.  if they invest $500K to $1m in projects or business that create jobs for  American citizens

By  Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 15:25 EST, 23  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 16:42 EST, 23 July 2013

President Barack Obama’s choice for the No. 2  job at the Homeland Security Department is under investigation for his role in  helping a company run by Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony  Rodham.

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services, is being investigated for his role in  helping the company secure an international investor visa for a Chinese  executive, according to congressional officials briefed on the investigation.

Anthony Rodham is president and CEO of Gulf  Coast Funds Management LLC in McLean, Va.

Under investigation: Alejandro Mayorkas (pictured far right) pictured with President Obama and Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano (center) 

Under investigation: Alejandro Mayorkas, who is being  probed, (pictured far right) stood with President Obama and Director of Homeland  Security, Janet Napolitano (center) in March 2013 at the White House

 

The officials spoke only on the condition of  anonymity because they were not authorized to release details of the  investigation.

Mayorkas was named by Homeland Security’s  Inspector General’s Office as a target in an investigation involving the foreign  investor program run by USCIS, according to an email sent to lawmakers late  Monday, Associated Press has learned.

In that email, the IG’s office said,’At this  point in our investigation, we do not have any findings of criminal misconduct.’

 

The email did not specify any criminal  allegations it might be investigating.

White House press secretary Jay Carney  referred questions to the inspector general’s office, which said that the probe  is in its preliminary stage and that it doesn’t comment on the specifics of  investigations.

 

The program, known as EB-5, allows foreigners  to get visas if they invest $500,000 to $1 million in projects or businesses  that create jobs for U.S. citizens.

The amount of the investment required depends  on the type of project. Investors who are approved for the program can become  legal permanent residents after two years and can later be eligible to become  citizens.

Hillary Rodham ClintonClinton connections: Hillary Clinton's brother Anthony Rodham (pictured right with his bride Nicole Boxer in 1999) is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC in McLean, Va

Clinton connections: Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony  Rodham (pictured right with his bride Nicole Boxer in 1999) is president and CEO  of Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC in McLean, Va

 

If Mayorkas were confirmed as Homeland  Security’s deputy secretary, he probably would run the department until a  permanent replacement was approved to take over for departing Secretary Janet  Napolitano.

The email to lawmakers said the primary  complaint against Mayorkas was that he helped a financing company run by Anthony  Rodham, a brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, to win approval for an investor  visa, even after the application was denied and an appeal was  rejected.

Mayorkas, a former U.S. attorney in  California, previously came under criticism for his involvement in the  commutation by President Bill Clinton of the prison sentence of the son of a  Democratic Party donor.

Another of Hillary Clinton’s brothers, Hugh  Rodham, had been hired by the donor to lobby for the commutation.

Mayorkas told lawmakers during his 2009  confirmation hearing that ‘it was a mistake’ to talk to the White House about  the request.

Hillary Clinton, who stepped down as  secretary of state on Feb. 1, is considered a possible contender for the  Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

According to the Inspector General’s email,  the investigation of the investor visa program also includes allegations that  other USCIS Office of General Counsel officials obstructed an audit of the visa  program by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The email did not name any specific official  from the general counsel’s office.

Family ties: Another of Hillary Clinton's brothers, Hugh Rodham (pictured with Bill Clinton in 1999) had been hired by the donor to lobby for the commutation 

Family ties: Another of Hillary Clinton’s brothers, Hugh  Rodham (pictured with Bill Clinton in 1999) had been hired by the donor to lobby  for the commutation

 

The email says investigators did not know  whether Mayorkas was aware of the investigation.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office was told  about the investigation in June after it inquired about Mayorkas as part of the  White House background investigation for his nomination as deputy DHS  secretary.

The FBI in Washington has been concerned  about the investor visa program and the projects funded by foreign sources since  at least March, according to emails obtained by The AP.

The bureau wanted details of all of the  limited liability companies that had invested in the EB-5 visa program. Of  particular concern, the FBI official wrote, was Chinese investment in projects,  including the building of an FBI facility.

‘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,’ an official wrote in one email. The FBI official’s name  was redacted in that email.

Appointed by Obama: Alejandro Mayorkas is director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 

Appointed by Obama: Alejandro Mayorkas is director of  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

 

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking  Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent the FBI a lengthy letter  Tuesday asking for details of its review of the foreign investor visa program  and Chinese investment in U.S. infrastructure projects.

Chinese investment in infrastructure projects  has long been a concern of the U.S. government.

In September, the Obama administration  blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon  that were near a Navy base used to fly unmanned drones and electronic-warfare  planes on training missions.

And in October, the House Intelligence  Committee warned that two leading Chinese technology firms, Huawei Technologies  Ltd. and ZTE Corp., posed a major security threat to the U.S. Both firms have  denied being influenced by the Chinese government.

The most routine users of the EB-5 program  are Chinese investors.

According to an undated, unclassified State  Department report about the program obtained by the AP, the U.S. Consulate in  Guangzhou, China, processed more investor visas in the 2011 fiscal year than any  other consulate or embassy.

The document says ‘applicants are usually  coached and prepped for their interviews, making it difficult to take at face  value applicants’ claims’ about where their money comes from and whether they  hold membership in the Chinese Communist Party.

Party membership would make an applicant  ineligible for the investor visa.

Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC is one of  hundreds of ‘Regional Centers’ that pool investments from foreign nationals  looking to invest in U.S. businesses or industries as part of the foreign  investor visa program.

There was no immediate response to an email  sent to Gulf Coast requesting comment.

It is unclear from the IG’s email why the  investor visa application was denied. Visa requests can be denied for a number  of reasons, including a circumstance where an applicant has a criminal  background or is considered a threat to national security or public  safety.

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