WASHINGTON U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, who has been nominated to be the deputy secretary of Homeland Security - and who could soon run the department - is under investigation by the department's inspector general.
A spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General said the watchdog was in "the preliminary stage of an investigation of certain allegations made against Alejandro Mayorkas." He would give no further details.
The inspector general's office sent lawmakers an email this week informing them about allegations Mayorkas had engaged in a conflict of interest and misused his position, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The source said investigators are looking into whether Mayorkas had assisted in securing an investor visa - which had previously been denied twice - on behalf of Gulf Coast Funds Management.
Gulf Coast Funds Management is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
If confirmed as deputy secretary of Homeland Security, Mayorkas would likely run the department on an acting basis following the September departure of Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is leaving to run the University of California.
In the email to lawmakers, the inspector general's office said it did not have any findings of criminal misconduct, according to the source familiar with the investigation.
Mayorkas is due to appear on Thursday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs for a hearing on his nomination.
The Cuban-born Mayorkas was previously the U.S. Attorney for Southern California. He was criticized for lobbying former President Bill Clinton for the pardon of a drug dealer whose father was a Democratic party donor.
In confirmation hearings for his Citizenship and Immigration Services position in 2009, Mayorkas told lawmakers he had made a mistake in talking to the White House about the pardon request.
(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Philip Barbara)