Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign said Thursday that he would not return a 2009 campaign donation from a businessman at the center of a corruption investigation.
Jeffrey E. Thompson, a District businessman, gave $2,500 to McAuliffe’s unsuccessful bid for governor four years ago. Republicans called on McAuliffe — who is now running against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) — to return that donation after The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that Thompson was linked to an alleged secret effort to turn out votes for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
“It’s now been revealed that Terry McAuliffe accepted campaign cash from a fellow shady businessman Jeffrey Thompson who engaged in secret and allegedly illegal action to help Hillary Clinton take down Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign,” said Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. “Given Thompson’s actions and the fact that other prominent Democrats have already acted, the right thing for Terry McAuliffe to do is to return these tainted contributions.”
McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said the candidate would not return or donate Thompson’s cash, which went to McAuliffe’s previous campaign for governor.
“This is a pathetic attempt by Ken Cuccinelli to try to avoid answering questions about federal investigators questioning him over his ties to Star Scientific and the $100,000 he got from the out-of-state energy company his office was helping in their legal fight against Virginia landowners,” Schwerin said.
Cuccinelli said this week he would give a Richmond charity a check for $18,000, the amount he had received in gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Larger gifts from Williams to Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) and his family are the subject of two investigations, and Democrats had called on Cuccinelli to return the gifts for weeks before he decided to make the donation.
The Post reported Wednesday that Thompson paid a New York marketing executive, Troy White, more than $608,000 to hire “street teams” to help Clinton during her primary battle against Barack Obama, according to federal court documents and interviews. The documents show that White — who pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor tax charge — and Thompson were introduced by Minyon Moore, then a Clinton adviser who had worked for McAuliffe when he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
McAuliffe, who has complex ties to the Clintons and their political operation, served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. He has repeatedly lauded Moore as a skilled operative, and media reports have described them as friends. Moore, now at the public affairs firm Dewey Square Group, donated $1,000 to McAuliffe in March to boost his high-profile gubernatorial bid against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II. She also gave $500 to McAuliffe’s 2009 campaign for governor.
McAuliffe’s campaign declined to comment on the allegations involving Moore.
Dewey Square told The Post that Moore has been “fully cooperating” with the federal probe: “The facts make clear that she was entirely unaware of any inappropriate activities and at all times conducted herself, as she always has, not only in full compliance with the law but in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards.”
In his 2008 book, “What a Party,” McAuliffe writes: “My first official act as chairman was to name Minyon Moore as my chief operating officer. Minyon was one of the classiest, most talented women in American politics, as well as one of the most loyal. … Minyon and I agreed that we were really going to shake up the party together. I don’t think anyone at DNC headquarters knew quite what had hit them when I showed up for my first day on the job.”
McAuliffe also credited Moore with helping to secure him the DNC chairmanship in the first place, noting that she helped round up support from the DNC Black Caucus.
Moore, in turn, has publicly praised McAuliffe. In 2009, when McAuliffe launched his first bid for Virginia governor, Moore told U.S. News & World Report that the move was a smart one.
“He thought like a businessperson, but he led like a public servant,” Moore said. “I thought that unique combination would ultimately lead him to politics.”