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Politics

Lobbying by ex-Clinton associate draws scrutiny

Inquiry focuses on McAuliffe and business partners

Terry McAuliffe, candidate for Virginia governor, has denied seeking special treatment.

AP/File

Terry McAuliffe, candidate for Virginia governor, has denied seeking special treatment.

WASHINGTON — As federal investigators look into whether top US officials gave special treatment to Terry McAuliffe’s company GreenTech Automotive, the controversy has shed light on lobbying efforts by the former Clinton associate and two of his Northern Virginia business partners.

One is Anthony Rodham, a brother of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The other is GreenTech cofounder and chief executive Xiaolin ‘‘Charles’’ Wang, a lawyer with expertise in trade law and foreign investment who said he has second thoughts about going into business with a politician.

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Much of the public scrutiny of the GreenTech investigation has centered on McAuliffe, because he is running for Virginia governor this year. But the investigation has also drawn attention to the company itself — and to other people associated with it, including Rodham and Wang.

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has launched a preliminary investigation into whether US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Alejandro Mayorkas improperly intervened on behalf of GreenTech and other firms as they sought to raise capital from foreign investors.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the conduct of GreenTech and Gulf Coast Funds Management — a sister company owned by Wang — in soliciting foreign investors, according to government documents.

GreenTech Automotive controversy

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Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate, has argued that GreenTech’s dealings fit a pattern of shady ventures by McAuliffe since his days as a top fund-raiser for president Bill Clinton.

McAuliffe, Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent, has challenged the Republican’s ethics for his failure to initially report thousands of dollars of gifts from the same political donor whose largesse has tarnished Governor Robert McDonnell, a Republican.

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McAuliffe has denied seeking special treatment and said he was not aware of the investigations into GreenTech until they became public. Wang and other officials have acknowledged the SEC investigation and said they were cooperating.

Meanwhile, new details have emerged about McAuliffe’s and Wang’s efforts to lobby the DHS. In written explanations submitted to a Senate committee, Mayorkas wrote that McAuliffe had called him on several occasions as recently as this year to complain about delays.

‘‘In early 2013, Mr. McAuliffe walked past me in a crowd and said something like, ‘Your agency is killing the project,’ and kept walking,’’ Mayorkas wrote. His explanations were provided by the office of Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, who also provided a letter he sent to the director late last week accusing him of being less than forthcoming in previous Senate testimony about his contact with McAuliffe.

Mayorkas is President Obama’s nominee to become the deputy secretary of homeland security; his nomination has stalled while his dealings with GreenTech and other firms remain under preliminary investigation.

The DHS and SEC investigations involve a 23-year-old program, known as EB-5, that grants conditional visas to foreign entrepreneurs who invest at least $500,000 in the United States. The program, which is managed by Mayorkas’s agency, permits investors to eventually receive permanent resident visas, known as green cards.

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