Cuccinelli springs April Fools’ joke


Va. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe (left) and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. (Bob Brown, Steve Helber/AP)

This item has been updated.

The slugfest known as the Virginia governor’s race has managed to get into the holiday spirit. Not Easter. April Fools’ Day.

“Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe today announced a major commitment to bringing manufacturing jobs to Virginia,” begins a news release issued Monday from the Democrat’s rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R).

The release includes a link to video snippets of of McAuliffe touting plans to bring an electric car company from China to Virginia.

Then comes: “April Fools’! Terry McAuliffe chose to base his electric car company in Mississippi,” it reads. “Then he blamed the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) for refusing to bid on GreenTech’s contract, a statement that was quickly proven false by Politifact. Turns out, McAuliffe never even gave VEDP the necessary information to offer GreenTech a package! The biggest joke today is Terry McAuliffe claiming to put Virginia jobs first.”

McAuliffe’s decision to put his GreenTech plant in Mississippi became an issue in the campaign in December, when he told reporters that he didn't put the plant in Virginia because VEDP “decided they didn’t want to bid on it.”

Soon after, Politifact Virginia analyzed e-mail between GreenTech and VEDP, concluding that the agency had raised concerns about the venture but had not ruled it out. In fact, the messages indicated that VEDP officials were surprised to learn through media reports that GreenTech had decided to go to Mississippi.

McAuliffe said at the time that he disagreed with the “false” rating that Politifact gave his claim, but without explaining why he thought the fact-checkers got it wrong.

McAuliffe’s campaign responded Monday with a sharp-edged April Fool’s message of its own, issuing a news release titled: “Breaking: Cuccinelli Resigns Office over Star Scientific and Transportation Conflicts of Interest.”

The fake missive keyed off recent reports that Cuccinelli had failed to disclose for nearly a year that he owned stock in a company that had filed a tax lawsuit against the state. The release also mocked Cuccinelli’s unwillingness to resign his post to focus on his campaign for governor, as previous Virginia attorneys general have done.

“I have come to realize that my political ambitions are not always compatible with the what’s best for the people of this Commonwealth and that now is the time for me to resign,” Cuccinelli said in the McAuliffe campaign’s imagined statement.

Ben Pershing contributed to this report.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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