While it is true that Mr. Weinstein donated to Mr. McAuliffe’s political campaign, it is also true that when (and only when) the story of Mr. Weinstein’s many cases of abuse reached the mainstream media, Mr. McAuliffe did make some public statements about donating the amount given to him by Mr. Weinstein to the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
FBI Investigation into foreign donation campaigns
In 2016, former Gov. of Virginia Terry McAuliffe was under a joint investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. The investigation centered around Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign and whether he accepted political contributions that were forbidden by federal law.
As part of the probe, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton: Clinton Global Initiative. The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2000 to 2005, and co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, speaking to reporters said he was “shocked” by the investigation and that it “has nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation.” He added:
“This was an allegation of a gentleman who gave a check to my campaign,” McAuliffe said. “I didn’t bring the donor in. I didn’t bring him into the Clinton foundation. I’m not sure if I’ve even met the person, to be honest with you.”
Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang through his U.S. businesses. Wang was previously a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s ceremonial legislature. Mr. Wenliang chairs the privately held China Rilin Construction Group, which holds a majority stake in Dadong Port Group, a strategic Chinese port near North Korea. He is also Chairman of the Board Zhongyu Gas Holdings Limited.
U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal, state or local elections. Penalties for violations include fines and/or imprisonment. It appears that Mr. Wang holds a permanent resident status, according to a spokeswoman, which would make him a U.S. person under election law and eligible to donate to McAuliffe’s campaign.
The donation in question revolves around $70,000 for his campaign and $50,000 for his inaugural — from West Legend Corp., a New Jersey construction materials company controlled by Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang.
As The Intercept explains:
The sheer size seems improper. Yet Virginia permits unlimited, direct contributions by both individuals and corporations to candidates for state offices — e.g., governor, the state senate and general assembly.
Virginia is one of six states that allow direct, unlimited contributions by anyone. (The others are Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, and Utah.) In other words, for Virginia state elections, the fact that Citizens United made it possible for corporations to spend an unlimited amount in ways uncoordinated with candidates was largely irrelevant. Corporations could already just cut checks directly to candidates for as much as they wanted.
Then there’s the issue of West Legend’s foreign ownership.
According to U.S. law, it’s illegal for a “foreign national” — meaning a foreign individual, corporation, or government — to make any donation in connection with a federal, state, or local election.
However, the legal definition of a foreign national specifically excludes any “corporation … organized under or created by the laws of the United States.”
So, since West Legend Corp. is incorporated in the U.S., it’s not a foreign national and can take part in U.S. elections like any other American company.
Where Wang’s permanent residency would be legally significant is under Federal Election Commission regulations that forbid any foreign national from engaging in the “decision-making process of any person, such as a corporation,” regarding political expenditures. As long as everyone participating was a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, then Wang and McAuliffe are legally in the clear. FEC advisory opinions also suggest that to be legal, the $120,000 donation must have been generated by business activity in the U.S.
Mr. Wang Wenliang also has been a donor to the Clinton Foundation, pledging $2 million. He also has been a prolific donor to other causes, including to New York University, Harvard University, and environmental issues in Florida.
While the way politicians harvest money from donors is appalling, as of yet, there is no evidence that McAuliffe broke any rules in this particular case.
In 2015, McAuliffe’s political action committee, Common Good Va., returned a $25,000 donation from a company with ties to Angola’s state-owned oil company after The Associated Press raised questions about its legality. Federal law prohibits campaigns at any level from receiving money from outside the U.S.
Clinton Foundation donors gave $13 million to Terry McAuliffe
Records show that there are 120 donors who have contributed to both Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Clinton Foundation, giving a total of $13.4 million to the governor’s campaigns, inauguration, the state party, and political action committee. That increases to nearly $18 million if donors to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign are included.
In fact, West Legend Corp. was on the was only the 57th biggest donor to McAuliffe during his two campaigns for governor. Coming in first at $6.7 million was the Democratic Governors Association PAC. Next was Independence USA, a Super PAC funded by Michael Bloomberg to promote gun control, with $1.7 million.
Notable individual donors include long-time Clinton supporter Haim Saban ($572,636), Facebook’s first president Sean Parker ($500,000), BET founder Robert Johnson ($495,000), and Bill Clinton ($110,000)
The investigation from the Washington post shows a long symbiotic relationship between McAuliffe’s governorship and Hillary Clinton’s prospects for taking Virginia. This was briefly discussed in a previous article and would be further expanded upon in subsequent ones.
57 small Clinton donors gave a total of $5,513,171 to McAuliffe
This bracket has the largest number of donors, who mostly gave moderate amounts to both campaigns. All but two gave less than $250,000 to McAuliffe. One of the exceptions is billionaire environmentalist Thomas S. Steyer, who gave McAuliffe a total of $1.6 million through his PAC.
The other is Rhode Island marketing executive Mark Weiner. He and his firm gave nearly $380,000 to McAuliffe, who helped Weiner win the right to sell official Bill Clinton inauguration merchandise. McAuliffe even pitched the items on QVC. Weiner later connected McAuliffe to an investment that allowed him to profit from a stranger’s death. McAuliffe later donated the profits to charity.
A. Huda Farouki, a longtime Clinton supporter who spent New Year’s Eve in 1999 with the Clintons, gave McAuliffe $100,000 in campaign cash and at least that much to the Clinton Foundation. He is chairman of Dubai-based defense contractor Anham, which a government audit found to have over-billed the Pentagon by $4.4 million, Bloomberg Business reported.
34 medium Clinton donors gave a total of $4,763,715 to McAuliffe
Only six donors in this bracket gave more than $100,000 to McAuliffe. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave a total of nearly $1 million to McAuliffe’s two campaigns and $120,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia. Facebook co-founder Sean Parker’s foundation donated $1.25 million to McAuliffe and the DPVA in 2013.
29 big Clinton donors gave a total of $3,168,907 to McAuliffe
While these donors all gave large sums to the Clinton Foundation, their contributions to McAuliffe range widely.
Wang Wenliang, a delegate to China’s parliament whose construction conglomerate, Rilin Enterprises, controls a strategic port near North Korea, donated $2 million to the Clinton Foundation. Through Rilin’s New Jersey affiliate, which ships soybeans through Virginia ports, he gave $120,000 to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign and inauguration.
Vin Gupta was such a big donor during Bill Clinton’s presidency that he earned a stay in the Lincoln Bedroom and a nomination for ambassador to Fiji. He was so generous with his corporate jets — letting the whole Clinton family fly to Switzerland, Hawaii and other locales — that shareholders forced him out of the Omaha database company he founded. He donated $50,000 to McAuliffe.
American-Israeli media mogul Haim Saban, who made his fortune with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has said his sole political interest is Israel. He gave McAuliffe $573,000 in campaign cash and held a $15,000 per-plate lunch fundraiser for him at his Beverly Hills mansion. The headliner was Hillary Clinton, whose family foundation received at least $10 million from Saban.
Stephen L. Bing, a New York real estate heir and Hollywood producer, contributed $249,001 to McAuliffe. His plane flew Bill Clinton to North Korea and back in 2009 to win the release of two detained journalists.
McAuliffe’s donations to the wife of senior FBI official
Common Good VA is a Virginia state PAC run by Clinton’s long-time associate and advisor Terry McAuliffe. The former governor appeared to have donated nearly $500,000 to Jill McCabe, whose husband Andrew McCabe was at the time Associate Deputy Director of the FBI, and shortly after, promoted to Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As a second in command to the director of the FBI, McCabe oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
McAuliffe told the Wall Street Journal that he encouraged Jill McCabe to enter the state-run in March 2015 during a meeting with her and her husband.
Although Common Good VA is only permitted to fund state-level candidates, several of its largest donations came from outside of Virginia – as well as $50,000 from Clinton Foundation official Doug Band in New York, $100,000 from Clinton loyalist Robert Johnson in Maryland, and $10,000 from Clinton mega-donor Stephen Cloobeck in Nevada.
In the following months, Common Good VA received many major donations from other close Clinton associates, including $100,000 from Bill Clinton’s business partner Ron Burkle in California and $50,000 from Leonard Lauder in New York
Clinton was the featured speaker at a June 26, 2015, ticketed joint fundraiser for the Common Good VA and the Democratic Party of Virginia. Although the speech was billed as Clinton’s first official event after her campaign launch, none of the money raised went to her own campaign. The Virginia Democratic Party claimed at the time that the fundraiser pulled in over $1 million.
The fact that Hillary Clinton’s inner circle was raising substantial funds for Gov. McAuliffe’s PAC and this same PAC gave close to a half-million dollars to the campaign of the wife of the senior FBI official involved in the Clinton investigation sure raises questions about the impartiality of the FBI’s investigation.
Common Good VA was the largest single donor to Andrew McCabe’s wife, giving her $467,000 in 2015. Her campaign also received $207,788 from the Democratic Party of Virginia, a group over which McAuliffe exerts significant control.
The then Deputy director McCabe told the Wall Street Journal that he complied with federal ethics rules and was not promoted to lead the Clinton probe until months after his wife’s unsuccessful Senate bid ended.
The FBI said in a statement that during his wife’s campaign, Mr. McCabe “played no role, attended no events, and did not participate in fundraising or support of any kind. Months after the completion of her campaign, then-Associate Deputy Director McCabe was promoted to Deputy, where, in that position, he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails.”
If none of the above raise any eyebrows in terms of conflicts of interests, there are a few more things worth noting:
- Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook used to work for the McAuliffe’s super PAC payroll before he joined her presidential campaign.
- Brian Zuzenak, the executive director of Common Good VA at the time who oversaw the donations to Jill McCabe, left Common Good VA last May to join the Clinton campaign as its Virginia field director.
- Common Good VA’s executive director Michael Halle also joined the Clinton campaign as battleground analytics director in the spring of 2015.
- Common Good VA’s former fund-raiser Amanda McTyre is now a finance director for Clinton.
- Former Common Good staffer Marissa Astor left to become an assistant Clinton campaign manager.
It seems that Terry McAuliffe and associates do use their campaign donations to pay each other off in order to hide from the law. They bribe, coerce and pay off any official that investigates them because, of course, the lady justice only applies to the common folk.
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It is important to note that Mr. Wang and Mr. McAuliffe do in fact know each other and have met on several occasions.