Rendell Says He Didn’t Ask for Favors

But report suggests Homeland Security official sped up visa processing for Rendell clients.

Ed Rendell has denied seeking special favors from a Homeland Security official who sped up visa applications for clients of Rendell and other well-connected politicians, the Washington Post reports.

“We never asked Alejandro [Mayorkas] to do anything other than to speed up the decision-making process,” Rendell said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “The programs was a mess and disorganized, with different standards in different regions.”

Rendell held the conference call one day after the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security issued a report that found Mayorkas, now the department’s No. 2 official, helped several politically powerful individuals seek special visas for foreign investors. In addition to Rendell, the list included Terry McAuliffe (D), now governor of Virginia, and Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Mayorkas has said his intervention in those cases was meant only to address problems with how the program was operating.

Rendell said he also shared his concerns at the time with a top staffer to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “not to try to persuade them to affect an outcome, but just to say, ‘Good God, it’s taking forever, and we’re gonna lose projects because it’s taking forever.’”

The program offered visas to foreign individuals who invested funds in American economic development programs. Rendell said he’d like to see the program expanded to individuals who invest in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.