BLACKSBURG, Va. — A day after the final debate of the Virginia governor’s race, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli II ripped into Terry McAuliffe over what Cuccinelli said was a pattern of shady business dealings by the Democratic candidate and called on him again to release his tax returns.
In a telephone news conference Friday, Cuccinelli seemed eager to land the sort of body blow that eluded both candidates in Thursday night’s hour-long debate, sponsored by WDBJ7 and Virginia Tech on the university’s Blacksburg campus.
Cuccinelli attacked McAuliffe’s history of questionable fundraising deals and investments, including GreenTech Automotive and his investment with a convicted Rhode Island attorney who preyed on terminally ill people.
Cuccinelli, citing the federal indictment, said McAuliffe had to know that he was buying an annuity in the name of a person who died a short time later when he invested with Joseph A. Caramadre.
“He made big bucks off of the deaths of terminally ill people,” Cuccinelli said. “This is just dirty after dirty after dirty.”
Cuccinelli again called on McAuliffe to release his tax returns, as Cuccinelli has done. McAuliffe has released summaries.
McAuliffe has said he was a passive investor with dozens of other people who unwittingly invested their money with Caramadre. He and his campaign also made a $47,000 donation to charity to cover what they said was the return on the investment and the amount Caramadre had contributed to McAuliffe’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2009. McAuliffe’s campaign dismissed Cuccinelli’s allegations as a desperation ploy.
“This rant is a sad and desperate showing from somebody who used to care about being taken seriously as a candidate for governor,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said.
Cuccinelli, in responding to a question, defended his own actions in failing to disclose some gifts he received from the same wealthy donor whose gifts triggered a federal investigation of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).
Cuccinelli initially failed to disclose about $4,500 worth of $18,000 in gifts he received from Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr., including overnight stays at Williams’s residence. Cuccinelli reiterated that his failure to report the gifts and his stock holdings in the company was inadvertent and that a state prosecutor cleared him of wrongdoing.
But he also sidestepped a question Friday about whether he had underestimated the $800 value of his stays at Williams’s mansion.
“You know, I think the Democrats will pick up whatever they can to muddy the water,” Cuccinelli said.
Democrats, citing documents obtained through a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, said this week that Cuccinelli had lowballed the value of the visits at $27 a night. Cuccinelli’s office said the value was estimated by comparing the overnights with two “extended-stay operations” in the Richmond area that charged $800 per month, according to the documents.
“Instead of launching wild and false attacks, Ken Cuccinelli needs to answer why he intentionally undervalued his month-long stay at Star Scientific’s CEO’s mansion as attorney general,” Schwerin said.