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Democratic Candidates Give to Others

Tim Craig

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.

By Tim Craig  |  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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Comments

Mr. Craig,

So what you're really trying to commincate is that all three have played Santa with other people's money via their respective PACs, and that McAuliffe has all of a sudden personally given $2300 to Warner, Connolly, Periello, and Nye--never doing that before except $500 bucks to Boucher a few year back. Also, only $500 to any local candidate--and that was recently for Bulova who will be running for the Fairfax BoS special election this Febuary.

So, in other words, McAuliffe is paying to play, and hoping that paying will lead to some endorsing.

This guy has no business running for Virginia Governor. Period.

Posted by: HumbleGovWorker | December 19, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, McAuliffe's decision to send $5,000,000 to Tim Kaine's 2005 Coordinated Campaign which also supported HOD races all over the Commonwealth doesn't count for anything. It only got the 2005 coordinated effort started in May instead of August. Worthless.

McAuliffe started the national voter data file that's now the backbone of the party's database. Worthless.

McAuliffe paid of the DNC's debt and put it in a position to purchase a building freeing up cashflow that enabled the 50-state strategy. Worthless.

McAuliffe hasn't done anything for Virginia - except make it possible for us to win it.

I can understand why we'd focus on the low-hanging fruit of campaign contributions here - that's easy to research and understand. But the entire concept that to "help" a candidate you have to send them a check is nonsense.

If anything, McAuliffe was a large scale team player whose efforts created the platform upon which Virginia's electeds could build their success.

Watching recycled campaign dollars fly between campaign accounts is a bean counting sideshow.

Posted by: FederalGraphics | December 19, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

FederalGraphics,

OK, if I read your obtuse rationale correctly, then McAuliffe is DUE the Governor's slot. After all, without McAuliffe then Warner and Kaine would have not won governor's races in 2001 and 2005, Webb would not have won in 2006, the State Senate would not have turned Dem in 2007, and Warner, Connolly, Nye, and Perriello would not have won in 2008.

Right. All because of Terry McAuliffe. He's due for our offerings, and we need to hand him the primary so he can run in the general for the keys to the Governor's mansion. Right. We need to fall in line. Nevermind the issues of him running a statewide executive branch, working with the General Assembly, etc., etc. So long as Terry gets his keys to the mansion, then we've all done our duty.

So SHAME on Governor Kaine, and Senator-Elect Warner, and Senator Webb, and Congressman Boucher, and Congressman Moran, and Congressmen-Elects Connolly, Nye, and Perriello, and every Dem state senator and every Dem delegate, etc., etc., for not whole-heartedly endorsing our savior Terry McAuliffe.

Oh, and SHAME on Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds for even staying in the running. How can they fight against the one that has made the past eight years possible for Virginia Dems? Shocking, just shocking.

Posted by: HumbleGovWorker | December 19, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say that at all. I simply said that focusing on money being spread around to campaign accounts like like watching stocks trade on the floor instead of looking at what really makes the market move.

McAuliffe needs to earn his nomination. So does Moran who shouldn't get it just because he spread the most cash or Deeds who ran statewide last time. No one is entitled to any nomination.

Posted by: FederalGraphics | December 19, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

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