Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, catching hell from both Republicans and Democrats for the blatant “access for cash” fundraising effort by his new political action committee aimed at high-dollar donors, is now claiming he knew nothing about a recent email sent out by the committee selling access at various levels of contributions up to 100 grand.
“They put out a piece of paper I had never seen or approved,” McAuliffe told radio listeners on WRVA radio Thursday when asked about the solicitations by his Common Good Virginia PAC.
That solicitation sold a private dinner with the governor and Virginia’s First Lady, a roundtable discussion with him and other state leaders and monthly meetings with “policy experts” for those who shell out $100,000 in annual contributions.
Both Democrats and Republicans questioned McAuliffe’s political acumen for blatantly offering an access for sale program so soon after the scandals that left recently departed Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife under federal charges of using the power of the office to help disgraced former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams help in exchange for cash, gifts and personal loans.
“It furthers public belief that our government is for sale to the highest bidder and the sarcastic claim of ‘new boss, same as the old boss’ that haunts the halls of power nowadays,” says a Democratic consultant who, for obvious reasons, asks not to be identified.
It also reminds political foes that McAuliffe came into political prominence as the political fundraiser who sold overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House and part of an access package to big-buck contributors for then-President Bill Clinton.
But now McAuliffe is claiming a program to sell access to him and his administration was something he never approved and won’t happen.
“We’re not going to do what they said,” he said on the radio show.
Political insiders in Richmond say what McAuliffe really didn’t know was the fury that would erupt from his PAC’s access for sale program.
So he’s taking a normal step for a politician caught in a stupid and questionable act: Claiming he didn’t know and blaming it on others.
I first me Terry McAulifee when he was a Democratic campaign honcho in Washington and I ran the political programs division for the National Association of Realtors — including what was then the nation’s largest political action committee. He was known around DC as a leader who delegated and seldom took a hands-on approach.
Such delegation in politics normally has a caveat: “Take care of it, but don’t make me look bad.” Somebody on the McAuliffe team will most likely pay dearly is they actually made such a mistake.
Any political operative who wants to remain on the payroll would both dumb and stupid to put out a fundraising letter that commits the governor and his wife to private dinners and other access without at least running the idea past the top man.
It’s political suicide.