Democratic Candidates Give to Others
As Terry McAuliffe considers a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, he has to overcome the impression that he has thin ties to the Virginia Democratic party and its activists.
But when it comes to spending his own money, campaign finance reports outline how McAuliffe has been far more interested in helping federal versus state candidates for office.
McAuliffe, a wealthy businessman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has contributed more than $200,000 to presidential, congressional and national party committees since 2000, according to the Federal Election Commission. McAuliffe's wife, Dorothy, has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to federal candidates.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics, McAuliffe has made only one contribution to a candidate running for state or local office in Virginia in the past eight years. On Oct. 28, after it was clear he was eyeing the governor's race, McAuliffe gave Fairfax County Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D) $500.
If McAuliffe made additional contributions to Virginia candidates this fall, they will be reported when the next round of campaign finance reports are due next month. But those donations will probably have been made after he began his exploratory effort for governor.
McAuliffe's lack of donations to Virginia candidates, especially considering his generous giving to federal candidates, could become fodder for his two rivals for the nomination, Brian J. Moran and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath).
Neither Deeds nor Moran have parted with much of their personal wealth in support of Virginia candidates, either. But both men have just a fraction of the fortune that McAuliffe can claim.
Moran has contributed $2,600 to state candidates in recent years, according to VPAP. Moran, an attorney and former prosecutor, has given about $2,000 to federal candidates, according to the FEC.
Deeds, also an attorney, donated about $12,000 to Virginia candidates in the late 1990s, according to VPAP. Deeds appears to have made only one federal contribution - a $500 donation to U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher in 2004, according to the FEC.
But Deeds and Moran both had political action committees before they became candidates for governor. Moran's PAC donated about $400,000 to Virginia candidates from 2002 to this year, about half of which went to candidates for the House of Delegates. Under his leadership, the House Democratic Caucus also directly raised $5 million.
Deeds' leadership PAC gave out about $100,000 since 2006, according to VPAP. Deeds's also diverted about $75,000 from his senate account to other Democrats in 2007.
McAuliffe can argue, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2005, he pledged a record $5 million in party money to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's campaign.
McAuliffe's wife also gave Kaine $10,000 in 2005, according to VPAP. In 2001, the DNC under McAuliffe donated $1.5 million to Mark R. Warner's (D) gubernatorial campaign
And in dishing out cash to federal candidates, McAuliffe and his wife gave the maximum $2300 this year to Gerald E. Connolly, Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye, the three Democrats who picked up GOP-held U.S. House seats. The McAuliffe's also maxed out to Warner's Senate campaign this year.
The question for Democrats is whether McAuliffe should get credit for diverting national party money into Virginia when he was chairman? Some Democrats can argue McAuliffe had an obligation as party chairman to make sure the state party was well-funded during Kaine and Warner's gubernatorial campaigns. But the same argument could be applied to Moran's support for House candidates considering his former job as chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
That gets back to how the candidates have been using their personal wealth in support of candidates. McAuliffe has given about 400 times more to federal candidates then he has to state and local candidates in Virginia in recent years.
December 19, 2008; 2:38 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig
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