This afternoon, in perhaps the least surprising news to break since Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern, CNN reported that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Cash) has spent the past year under federal investigation for campaign finance shenanigans:
Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, U.S. officials briefed on the probe say.
The investigation dates to at least last year and has focused, at least in part, on whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law, the officials said.
McAuliffe, the former DNC Chairman, is of course best known as a longtime confidant of the Clintons and all-purpose bag man for their shadier ventures. As the Washington Post put it in a 2013 profile highlighting McAuliffe’s close ties to the Clintons and the various scandals that relationshi0p had generated: “McAuliffe and the Clintons: A friendship as close as family, with benefits, risks for both.” As left-wing magazine Mother Jones wrote in 2013:
McAuliffe represents an unseemly slice of Washington. His primary role in politics for the past two decades or more has been raising money—most notably, for the Clintons. He cooked up the idea of essentially renting out the Lincoln bedroom during the Clinton administration as a fundraising vehicle, and he smashed all previous presidential fundraising records in the process. When McAuliffe was the Dems’ top fundraiser, a campaign finance scandal besieged the Clinton White House. Coincidence? No. McAuliffe was all about pushing the envelope when it came to the political money chase.
That alone might not be enough to render him a distasteful political candidate. What’s different about McAuliffe is his brazen mixing of his campaign fundraising activity and attempts to enrich himself personally. Many of McAuliffe’s business deals have come about due to his place in the political cosmos, not because he possesses a wealth of business skill. That tangled history has linked him to a long list of unsavory characters.
McAuliffe had a high-profile role in Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign, and has stayed involved this time around despite his day job as Governor.
Hey, I wonder if this latest scandal has anything to do with McAuliffe trading off his relationship with the Clintons?
As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.
As the Washington Post reported last summer:
More than 175 contributors to the Clinton Foundation and to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential campaign have dug deep into their wallets for McAuliffe (D), often giving prolifically despite little or no connection to Virginia….[Ties to Virginia are] tenuous for many of the dual donors. Among them is an Omaha database executive who lavished so much corporate jet travel on himself and the Clinton family that shareholders forced him out. A Hollywood media mogul with a singular interest in Israel. And an Argentine-born energy tycoon who recalled visiting Richmond just once — flying in and out years ago with Bill Clinton, his Georgetown classmate.
Of the $60 million McAuliffe has raised for his two gubernatorial bids, inauguration, political action committee and the Democratic Party of Virginia, nearly $18 million has come from contributors to the Clinton Foundation or to Hillary Clinton’s current campaign.
If we’re talking about replaying Clinton fundraising scandals from the 90s, I wonder if there are any shady Asian businessmen involved?
Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang, through his U.S. businesses. Wang was previously delegate to China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s ceremonial legislature.
“Neither the Governor nor his former campaign has knowledge of this matter, but as reported, contributions to the campaign from Mr. Wang were completely lawful,” said Elias.
Elias…who is he? That would be “Marc Elias, attorney for McAuliffe campaign,” a longtime Democratic fixer who is also the general counsel for Hillary 2016.
This is the same McAuliffe who, perhaps looking down the road at his own future, recently unilaterally by executive order restored the voting rights of over 200,000 felons in Virginia, many of them convicted of violent crimes (everyone involved in that debate assumes, with reason, that convicted rapists and murderers will be a heavily Democratic-leaning voter group).
(As is invariably the case when we’re discussing crooked Democrats, one of McAuliffe’s donors was Donald Trump, who gave him $25,000 in 2009 and was hobnobbing with McAuliffe as recently as 2014).
McAuliffe is hardly the only Democrat under this sort of cloud at the moment; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, also elected in 2013, is under at least five separate investigations, including for campaign fundraising violations of his own – the New York Times conceded that “historians have been hard-pressed to find a mayor who, along with his administration and inner circle, was ever the subject of as many simultaneous investigations — conducted by as many different agencies — as Mayor Bill de Blasio now faces.” But even de Blasio was not as wholly predictable a magnet for campaign finance scandals as McAuliffe. Democratic voters knew exactly who and what he is when he was elected, and they got it.
We also know that the Clintons are cut from the same cloth. With Hillary Clinton’s return to the White House, we can expect more of the same. Don’t let anyone pretend they’re surprised when it happens.