Meet Virginia’s New Sleazebag Governor
On Tuesday the Commonwealth of Virginia elected Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fundraiser and failed businessman, as the state’s next governor. Due to a flood of donor money, however, you’ve probably only heard about his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli, whose campaign built an entire website dedicated to his support of anti-sodomy laws. This is somewhat troubling because McAuliffe is his very own kind of shitshow. Here’s what you should know.
McAuliffe’s sketchy business ties
McAuliffe’s connections to shady businesses are legion. A few examples:
• According to the Talking Points Memo, McAuliffe accepted $120,000 from a Virginia-based company called the Liberian International Ship And Corporate Registry, whose corporate bank accounts were used to traffic arms into Sierra Leone:
LISCR serves as a regulator of the shipping industry in the African nation of Liberia through a contract given to the company by former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor. In 2001, LISCR was associated with efforts of Taylor's regime to arm rebels who committed atrocities in neighboring Sierra Leone in defiance of international sanctions.
• He invested in a Rhode Island estate-planning firm that turned out to be a front for a giant insurance scam. According to The Washington Post,
McAuliffe’s name appeared on a lengthy list of investors with Joseph A. Caramadre, an attorney and accountant who obtained the identities of dying people to set up annuities that ultimately cost insurance companies millions of dollars.
• According to The New York Times, McAuliffe tried to strong-arm several officials at the Department of Homeland Security, including Janet Napolitano, into approving various Chinese investments in his electric-car company, GreenTech Automotive.
Frustrated by government red tape slowing his electric car company, Terry McAuliffe repeatedly sought a meeting at the Department of Homeland Security. He and his lawyers sent a stream of e-mails to a senior official in charge of approving foreign investments that Mr. McAuliffe sought, and he went up the chain of command to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security
• He and his father-in-law Richard Swann used a workers’ pension fund—which they persuaded to take on several bad investments—to make $2.4 million for themselves. Per The Washington Post:
In 1999, the Labor Department reviewed a real estate venture involving McAuliffe that used money from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ pension fund. The department sued the union, saying the deal was a bad investment for its members. Union officials said the deal ultimately provided profits to the labor group. McAuliffe, who had invested only $100, made millions.
• He is close friends and business partnets with Hassan Nemazee, a former political bundler who pleaded guilty in 2010 to operating a massive Ponzi scheme with which he defrauded investors of $292 million. According to the Talking Points Memo,
After he stepped down as DNC chair in December 2005, McAuliffe quietly became a vice-chair of Carret Asset Management, a private equity firm of which Nemazee was co-chair. McAuliffe reportedly used the firm's swank Washington office to write his memoir — and to begin laying the groundwork for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, which launched just over a year later.
His bizarre memoir
His 2007 memoir, titled What A Party!, is insane. Some highlights:
• He abandoned his sobbing wife and newborn son in a parked car so that he could attend a fundraiser. Via BuzzFeed:
Dorothy was starting to well up in the backseat. She was having trouble understanding how I could be taking my wife and newborn baby to a fund-raiser on our way home from the hospital [...] I felt bad for Dorothy, but it was a million bucks for the Democratic Party and by the time we got home and the kids had their new little brother in their arms, Dorothy was all smiles and we were one big happy family again. Nobody ever said life with me was easy.
• McAuliffe ditched his girlfriend to play golf with Tip O’Neill. Via The Daily Caller:
“Dorothy, I’ve got to go golfing with the Speaker tomorrow,” McAuliffe recalled in his book. “I think, for Dorothy, that day was the perfect precursor for what her life with me would be like,” he wrote. “She was just learning to love the ways of the Irish in Democratic politics. Eventually, she forgave me, but she still teases me about leaving her stuck alone the entire day while I was off having the time of my life.”
• His primary concern immediately following the 9/11 attacks was his sudden inability to communicate with donors. Via BuzzFeed:
I was like a caged rat. I couldn’t travel. I couldn’t make political calls. I couldn’t make money calls. I couldn’t do anything. I went to my office and worked with my staff to prepare for when we could finally come back out again that made me feel a little better, but basically there was nothing for us to do in the immediate aftermath.”
(McAuliffe actually handed out the memoir during his failed 2009 campaign for Virginia governor.)
Some of McAuliffe’s sleaziness is difficult to define, but they help round out his character:
• Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones says that McAuliffe used her former Washington Post colleagues to interfere with her investigation into his various business connections:
When the Washington Post hired me to continue working on McAuliffe stories, he continued to threaten my editors with veiled libel threats. He even came in for a meeting with Len Downie, then the paper's executive editor. It was eerie how much he knew about what I was doing at the paper. It turned out that McAuliffe was a good source for some of my colleagues, and they were feeding him information that he was using to try to kill the investigation.
• He also bragged about convincing New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman to fire a meddlesome reporter. Per Mencimer:
In 1996, the New York Daily News fired reporter David Eisenstadt after he wrote an unfavorable story about McAuliffe potentially having connections to notorious fundraiser John Huang, who in 1999 pleaded guilty to felony charges for arranging more than $150,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. McAuliffe later gloated to the Washington Post about having called paper owner Mort Zuckerman to get Eisenstadt canned.
• He showed up drunk—or, pretending to be drunk—on MSNBC once:
• According to Politico, McAuliffe said this, in public:
Some guy approaches the table and Terry screams out “Where’s my movie?” to which the man produces a DVD and hands it to Terry. Terry then says at the top of his lungs: “No one does porn like me.” To which the guy replies “well, Terry, you have to be at least 6 inches to be in my movies.”
Good luck, Virginia.
[Photo credit: Associated Press]