RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he canceled plans to appear at an Ohio fundraiser to avoid being a “distraction” as federal investigators probe his personal finances and foreign sources of income.
The governor was expected to be the featured guest at an event next month for former Ohio governor Ted Strickland’s Senate campaign.
“I told him I didn’t want any distractions for him. He’s got a critical Senate race,” McAuliffe (D) told reporters Thursday morning after a radio appearance.
Strickland (D) is challenging Sen. Rob Portman (R).
“I told Ted he needs to focus on his race, and I told him we’ll reschedule in a month or two,” McAuliffe said. Later, he added, “I got plenty of time to campaign for him in the fall.”
The Columbus Dispatch first reported that McAuliffe would no longer attend the event.
McAuliffe said there have been no other changes to his political travel due to the FBI and Justice Department investigation, which has consumed his public appearances this week.
Republicans said the canceled event shows McAuliffe is toxic to fellow Democrats, including his friend and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. Her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.
“Terry McAuliffe is quickly becoming a liability — not just to Hillary Clinton, but to Democrats around the country. In a close race, no Democrat can afford to have yet another person on stage under FBI investigation,” Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.
Federal authorities are looking into whether McAuliffe violated an obscure statute that regulates U.S. citizens’ lobbying of the U.S. government on behalf of foreign governments, his attorney, James W. Cooper, has said.
“I have never lobbied for a foreign government ever,” the governor said Thursday on WRVA-AM.