Home > Corruption/Government Reform, Election 2009: GUV, The Opposition > McAuliffe: The “Not As I Do” Candidate

McAuliffe: The “Not As I Do” Candidate

If there’s anything to be said for Terry McAuliffe’s shameless self-promotion, it’s that he tends to know what people like. Recently, he managed to latch on to government reform as an issue, and knowing that many transparency efforts have seen wide Republican (and indeed, Democratic support) in the last few months, he decided to kick things up a notch. From the RTD

McAuliffe, one of three candidates for the Democratic nomination, yesterday called for a prohibition on “all gifts and trips from lobbyists” to legislators and executive-branch officials, including the governor.

The proposal follows a report Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch spotlighting widespread weaknesses in the state’s mandatory disclosure rules under which entertainment and gifts go unreported.

Frankly, I think that the proposal may be a bit overreaching. I’d like to hear if this is just a ban on gifts from registered lobbyists or a gift of value from anyone advocating for or against legislation. I think it’d be rather ridiculous if a local Farm Bureau group was not allowed to give their Delegate or Senator a token of their appreciation. Honestly, the requirement of gifts of more than $50 probably goes as long a way as an outright ban, as members of the GA have to think long and hard before they accept a gift knowing it will be in the public record. 

What’s far more interesting, however, is that while McAuliffe thinks there’s a big problem with legislators and the Governor accepting gifts from lobbyists while in office, he has no problem with using lobbyist money to fund his own ambitions. From CNN: 

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is taking flack from one of his Democratic rivals for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a prominent Republican lobbyist who publicly opposed Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.

The event was held Tuesday night at the Washington office of the BGR Group, a top government affairs and public relations firm founded by three Republicans including lobbyist Ed Rogers, a friend of McAuliffe’s who co-hosted the fundraiser.

Ethical pop quiz: If you were a legislator, would you feel more beholden to the donor who gave $5,000 to your campaign, or to the lobbyist who gave you a coffee mug, or even, heaven forbid, a steak dinner? 

Of course, as the Washington Examiner points out, it’s not the big business lobbyists that we’ll have to worry about:

Under Gov.Tim Kaine – one of Obama’s earliest supporters for president and his choice as DNC chairman – Virginia became the 18th most taxed state in the U.S. But that would just be the starting point for McAuliffe, who has been busy lining up lots of outside money from his union pals in New Jersey and elsewhere. He was known during the Clinton years for his “soft money” strategy that culminated in the 1996 Lincoln Bedroom sleepover scandals. And at least two of McAuliffe’s private real estate investments in Florida were bankrolled by a union pension fund. A former DNC finance director even testified at the 1999 Manhattan trial of the Teamsters’ former political director that McAuliffe urged him to bypass campaign contribution limits by getting major Democratic donors to give to unions and liberal political groups, which would in turn contribute to various Democratic Party committees.

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