Democrat Terry McAuliffe hoped his experience as the head of electric car company GreenTech Automotive would boost his reputation as a businessman. Instead, it appears to be a liability.
Lackluster hiring by GreenTech, documents showing serious doubts about its business strategy, and the shady circumstances of McAuliffe’s departure from the firm have prevented the former DNC chairman from effectively using the company to tout his business acumen, the New York Times reports.
Not only has McAuliffe’s experience at GreenTech failed to produce significant political advantage, critics say the company has become a proverbial albatross for his gubernatorial campaign.
The Times reports:
When Terry McAuliffe appeared with his good friend Bill Clinton at the ribbon-cutting for Mr. McAuliffe’s electric car company in July 2012, the campaign-style event, complete with "Born in the U.S.A." blaring, was meant to supply the top line of his résumé as he positioned himself to run for governor of Virginia.
But less than a year later, the company, GreenTech Automotive, has become a potential embarrassment as Mr. McAuliffe campaigns on the slogan "Putting Jobs First" and seeks to keep the spotlight on the conservative social views of his Republican opponent, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the state attorney general.
Mr. McAuliffe resigned as GreenTech’s chairman last year but publicly acknowledged it only this month. Documents have surfaced questioning his explanation for why he located the plant in Mississippi, not Virginia, including memos from Virginia officials expressing "grave doubts" about his business model and suggesting its financing was a "visa-for-sale scheme" for Chinese investors.
McAuliffe has also come under fire for leveraging his political connections to secure financing for GreenTech. Critics say it is indicative of his politics-centric approach to business.
"The McAuliffe-Cuccinelli race might be the clearest contrast we’ve seen of a corporatist Democrat running against a free-market populist," Tim Carney, director of the Culture of Competition Project at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon in March.