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McAuliffe Fundraiser Revives Union Issue

Rosalind Helderman

A fundraising event for Terry McAuliffe in North Carolina last month has thrust into public view a bit political history McAuliffe might not want revived during his run for governor: His one-time role in the reelection of a Teamsters union president.

The 1996 union campaign resulted in a criminal conviction for a Teamsters official over illegal fundraising practices.

McAuliffe, who at the time was a top fundraiser for President Clinton, was never charged in connection with the incident. But Richard Sullivan, then finance director for the Democratic National Committee testified at a five-week federal trial of Teamsters official William W. Hamilton Jr. that McAuliffe had encouraged him to find a Democratic donor to contribute to Teamsters' president Ron Carey's reelection campaign in exchange for Teamsters' contributions to the party. No such donor swap, which would have been illegal, took place.

There is apparently no bad blood between McAuliffe and Sullivan. As first reported by the Washington Examiner, Sullivan held a fundraiser for McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign last month.

Hamilton, a former political director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was found guilty by a federal jury of illegally raising money for Carey. Sullivan's testimony about McAuliffe came during Hamilton's 1999 trial.

Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe, called any whiff of scandal associated with the incident "just another recycled Republican smear from over a decade ago."

"It went nowhere then and will go nowhere now," she continued. She said McAuliffe is focused on improving the economy "not these rehashed right wing attacks."

Like McAuliffe, Sullivan has a long history of involvement with Democratic politics, including working with former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, with whom McAuliffe has also worked. in 2007, Sullivan was a leading supporter of Hillary Clinton in North Carolina. So the friendship to McAuliffe should come as no surprise.

Still, the Teamsters trial isn't the prettiest bit of McAuliffe's history, and it's the kind of things his detractors believe will leave voters with a bad taste in their mouth about him, tying him to the harsh political battles of the Clinton years.

Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for McAuliffe opponent Brian Moran, said "the election of President Barack Obama turned the page from this kind of big money inside Washington politics. It's up to Virginia Democrats if they want to go back to it."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 11, 2009; 4:43 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009 , Rosalind Helderman , Terry McAuliffe  
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Comments

Making mountains of molehills seems to be the order of the day, and I guess this is because when there is no story to highlight, one has to make stories that may sound sensational.

What is the point of raking up issues that are dead, and nothing ever came out of the investigation?

We live in the United States, where people are innocent until proven guilty, and once an investigation is over, and some one was found not guilty, the story should die a natural death.

It is so sad that the opposition has nothing substantive to talk about and so want to highlight allegations against McAuliffe.

It is sad that the Republican smears are being grabbed by the McAuliffe detractors.

It is amusing that Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for McAuliffe opponent Brian Moran, said "the election of President Barack Obama turned the page from this kind of big money inside Washington politics. It's up to Virginia Democrats if they want to go back to it." >>>> and, what is the money from Dominion Power and other corporations? I have no problem with Moran taking money from corporations, but the "holier than thou" image Ferguson is trying to build appears to stand on a weak foundation.

Posted by: alankrishnan | May 12, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

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