Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, reportedly the subject of an investigation by the DHS inspector general, denied any wrongdoing during a Senate hearing on his nomination to the second-highest post in the department.
“I have never ever in my career exercised undue influence to influence the outcome of a case,” Mayorkas said under questioning from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., during a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee hearing.
“I have never based my decisions on who brings the case, but rather on the facts and the law. I have taken in my life oaths of office and each and every day, morning day and night, I have lived by those oaths.”
The Associated Press reported that the DHS inspector general is investigating whether or not Mayorkas improperly aided Gulf Coast Funds Management, a company run by Anthony Rodham — Hillary Clinton’s brother — and connected to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s company, Greentech Automotive.
“An email obtained by the AP said the primary complaint against Mayorkas was that he helped Gulf Coast win approval for an investor visa after the application was denied and an appeal was rejected,” Watchdog.org explains.
Mayorkas did concede that he was consulted about the application, but he said this came about in the necessary and proper execution of his duties as the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “I assess legal policy issues,” Mayorkas said. “I made no orders in this case. what i did was sit around the table with my colleagues ... and we discussed an resolved those issues.” Mayorkas also argued that he has strengthened the integrity of the foreign investor visa program, known as the EB-5 program.
“We have brought economists to bear, we have brought business expertise, and we have brought individuals dedicated to ensuring the integrity of the program,” he said. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., opened the hearing by discrediting the inspector general’s office.
“This same inspector general’s office has not even had a Senate-confirmed leader for two years, but a series of acting inspector generals,” Carper said, noting that one of those acting IGs is himself the subject of a Senate investigation. “Rather than allowing rumor and speculation and innuendo to rule the day, this hearing will allow us to continue the process of vetting the nominee.” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the committee, boycotted the hearing.
“Holding this hearing in light of an active investigation into serious, relevant allegations of professional misconduct by the nominee, and over the objections of the ranking member and others, appears to be virtually without precedent in the history of this or any other Senate committee,” Coburn said in his statement for the record.
“As I and other members have already expressed, we believe the Committee must wait until these allegations against Mr. Mayorkas are resolved before deciding whether to move forward with his nomination.”