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Probe focuses on campaign contributions from a Chinese businessman who also gave to the Clinton Foundation
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
RICHMOND (CFP) — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says he was shocked to discover from a news report that he is under investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department over $120,000 in campaign contributions from a Chinese businessman who also gave money to the Clinton Foundation.
But speaking to reporters May 24, a day after the news broke, McAuliffe insisted that contributions from the donor, Wang Wenliang, were legal and that he had been “fully vetted” by the governor’s campaign staff.
He also insisted that the investigation has “nothing to do” with the Clinton Foundation, even though Wang had also given money to the foundation and McAuliffe sits on the board of one of its subsidiaries.
“I didn’t bring the donor in. I didn’t bring him into the Clinton Foundation. I’m not even sure I’ve ever met the person,” McAuliffe said.
The governor was also asked about the more than 100 donors common to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign and foundation, and whether he used his position with the Clinton Foundation to solicit campaign contributions.
McAuliffe explained that given his close relationship with the Clinton family, it would not be surprising to find donors who had given to both the campaign and the foundation.
“I think we’ve traveled in the same circles,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve traveled the globe with President Clinton, and we have a lot of the same friends.
News of the federal investigation was first reported by CNN. which attributed its information to “U.S. officials briefed on the probe.” It centers on $120,000 in contributions to McAuliffe’s campaign by Wang, according to the network.
The reason for the FBI”s scrutiny remains unclear. While foreign nationals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political campaigns, McAuliffe said that would not apply to Wang because he has been a permanent resident of the United States since 2007, and green-card holders can contribute to campaigns.
That would seem to point to the possibility that a relationship between the McAuliffe campaign and the Clinton Foundation is the focus of the probe. According to some news reports, the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server has expanded to the foundation.
McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton, even loaning them money to buy a house after they left the White House in 2001. He was the co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and both Clintons campaigned for him when he ran for governor.
The governor is on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative, the international outreach arm of the Clinton Foundation, which, since its founding in 1997, has raised more than $2 billion.
Wang is the head of the China Rilin Construction Group. Forbes magazine put his net worth at more than $1 billion.
Clinton confidante gets narrow win; attorney general race is headed for a recount
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics editor
(Note: CNN’s coverage of McAuliffe’s victory speech below)
McAuliffe, a long-time confidante and fundraiser for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, won the commonwealth’s top post with 48 percent, compared to 47 percent for Cuccinelli in November 5 vote. Libertarian Robert Sarvis drew 7 percent.
In the race for attorney general, with all of the precincts reporting, GOP State Senator Mark Obenshain held a lead of less than 300 votes over Democratic State Senator Mark Herring, out of more than 2 million votes cast. The race was within the margin to trigger a recount.
McAuliffe’s win gives Democrats control of four statehouses across the South, with Virginia joining West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas in the Democratic column. Republicans hold the top spot in the other 10 Southern states.
McAuliffe, 56, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, was making his second bid for governor. He lost in 2009 to Republican Governor Bob McConnell, who was barred by state law from seeking re-election.
McAuliffe has a long history in national politics, chairing Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 and Hillary Clinton’s White House bid in 2008. However, he has never held elective office.