“U.S. Sen Heidi Heitkamp is bringing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s No. 2 official to North Dakota this week for a two-day trip,” reports the Associated Press. “Heitkamp and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are scheduled to meet with local officials Tuesday and Wednesday.”
That’s an interesting development given that Mayorkas is embroiled in controversy surrounding special treatment he gave to certain foreign investors at the behest of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (who was instrumental in getting Heitkamp elected) and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth issued a report describing in detail actions by then-director of the immigration services agency Alexander Mayorkas that “created an appearance of favoritism and special access.” Mayorkas is now deputy secretary of the Homeland Security department.
Roth’s report was the focus of a Thursday hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Roth said Mayorkas intervened at the request of Reid seeking “expedited review of investor petitions involved in funding a Las Vegas hotel and casino, notwithstanding the career staff’s original decision not to do so.” The inspector general said, “Mayorkas pressured staff to expedite the review. He also took the extraordinary step of requiring staff to brief Senator Reid’s staff on a weekly basis for several months.”
Mayorkas also mounted an “unprecedented” intervention in the denial of an EB-5 application for funding of a firm “to manufacture electric cars through investments in a company in which Terry McAuliffe was the board chairman.” The inspector general said that “because of the political prominence of the individuals involved, as well as USCIS’ traditional deference to its administrative appeals process, staff perceived it as politically motivated.”
Roth further reported that “Mayorkas created a hand-picked ‘deference review board’ that reversed a series of decisions by the LA Films center to reject applications linked to film projects of Sony and Time Warner. ‘This board did not previously exist and was never used again after it voted to reverse the adjudicators’ proposed denials. Remarkably, there is no record of the proceedings of this board.”
Not surprisingly, the Senate Ethics Committee (the same sort of legislative ethics body that North Dakota Democrats want to create here in North Dakota) couldn’t find any wrong-doing in Reid or Mayorkas’ actions:
Epstein told Hulser that Cause of Action raised concerns to Congress about the roles of Reid and McAuliffe in letters to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2013.
The Senate panel concluded there was no evidence of wrong-doing by Reid, but Epstein said Roth’s report makes clear that the ethics committee’s review was insufficient. Reid’s intervention via Mayorkas was prohibited by Senate rules, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Sunshine in Government Act and the Senate’s historical precedents, according to Epstein.
Heitkamp is bringing Mayorkas to North Dakota to discuss federal funding for first responders and rail safety, which is all well and good, but maybe she should get some questions about Mayorkas’ ethics issues and his special favors for her Reid who, again, invested millions in getting her elected in 2012.