Republicans say Greentech resignation hurts McAuliffe campaign message

April 9, 2013

On a day of dueling conference calls, Virginia Republicans sought to turn up the heat on Terry McAuliffe Tuesday by enlisting two state legislators to attack the Democratic gubernatorial nominee over questions surrounding the electric car company GreenTech.

The hastily-arranged GOP call came three hours after Democrats staged their own conference call to hit McAuliffe’s opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), for his alleged “conflict of interest” regarding Star Scientific, a company in which Cuccinelli owns stock and which is suing Virginia over its tax bill.

Just as Democrats have been hammering Cuccinelli over Star in recent weeks, Republicans have launched daily broadsides against McAuliffe since Friday, when Politico reported that McAuliffe had resigned as chairman of GreenTech on Dec. 1 without ever publicizing the move.

On Tuesday’s call, Dels. Gregory D. Habeeb (Salem) and Timothy D. Hugo (Fairfax) criticized McAuliffe both for his handling of the resignation and for the overall performance of GreenTech, saying that the company has not produced jobs the way McAuliffe said it would.

“All is not what he promised, both from a jobs standpoint and with his role in the company,” Habeeb said.

Hugo suggested that McAuliffe’s departure from GreenTech punched a hole in the Democrat’s broader campaign message that he is a successful businessman and job creator.

“We just can’t quite figure out what Terry’s rationale is for running if he doesn’t have GreenTech,” Hugo said.

McAuliffe’s biography on his campaign Web site says “he has worked with and led numerous businesses in diverse sectors of the economy helping to improve companies and create economic opportunity.” It does not mention GreenTech or any specific companies.

“While Ken Cuccinelli’s rationale for running is clearly to continue promoting his divisive ideological agenda, Terry’s is about finding mainstream ideas to grow Virginia’s economy,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. “Ken Cuccinelli is currently in hiding and trying to distract voters from his ongoing ethics scandal.”

McAuliffe’s campaign has said he resigned from Greentech in order to focus on running for governor, contrasting that move with Cuccinelli’s decision to keep the attorney general post. But Democrats have been blasting Cuccinelli on that front for months without McAuliffe ever disclosing his own resignation from his day job.

Numerous media reports — including in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and the Associated Press — have referred to McAuliffe as chairman since he resigned the post. Asked why the campaign had not sought to correct those stories, Schwerin did not directly address the question.

“Terry’s been clear that he’s been a full-time candidate — while still retaining a financial interest in several companies,” Schwerin said. “And everyone knows he helped found GreenTech but is not involved in day to day operations.”

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