"McAuliffe’s political action committee, Common Good VA, would have barely qualified as news if not for the email announcing it: In addition to face time with the governor and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe, those contributing $10,000 to $100,000 could attend a monthly “roundtable discussion with policy experts.” There are some things you shouldn’t put in writing. To Republicans, eager to divert attention from the perceived ethical miscues of their own, the McAuliffe menu of eleemosynary options sounds suspiciously as if Virginia government is for sale. That’s a seamy image that’s become synonymous with Bob McDonnell. He and wife Maureen face trial in July for alleged Giftgate crimes." Schapiro in the Times Dispatch
Well, well. Virginia government evidently is for sale under McAuliffe as it was under McDonnell. In McDonnell's case this seems to have happened because of the undue influence of the unstable Lady Macbeth type at his side. What is McAuliffe's excuse?
I suppose that the governator now realizes that he is unlikely to derive much joy from the House of Delegates as now peopled and reckons that he will sweep through the Commonwealth next election time with all the money he will raise with this PAC cleansing the Augean Stables, so to speak. He probably hopes that then he will no longer look like an ass who cannot govern by means other than bullying and threats.
Sad to say for him, what may well happen is that the House will still have a Republican majority after that election and the Democrats may lose the US Senate this Autumn. In that eventuality he and Obama can be lame ducks together.
The Washington Post is today whining about gerrymandered districts in Virginia. Only losers whine. pl
We need to figure out how to get the monied interest out of politics altogether. There are some major impediments to doing so – especially the SCOTUS Citizen United ruling saying corporations are people too . Until we get money out of politics the McDonnells , the MacAuliffes , and the Gillespies of our political will always be up for sale to the highest bidder.
I think there are a number of issues here: some specific to Virginia and some national.
Specific to Virginia: It’s hard to argue that this is anything other than business as usual for Virginia. The article you cited for this post states:
“PACs were organized by McAuliffe’s five predecessors — Republicans McDonnell, Jim Gilmore and George Allen and Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Among them, they harvested $31 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, an online monitor of money in politics.”
If government in Virginia is for sale by virtue of a Governor’s PAC, then it has been for quite some time.
I postulate that Gov. McAuliffe’s new PAC (and those of his predecessors), is largely the result of Virginia’s, unique to the nation, limit on consecutive terms for the Governor’s office. You can be elected Governor of Virginia more than once, but not consecutively. In Virginia a candidate’s campaign committee is associated with a campaign for nomination or election. Therefore, a Governor’s campaign committee loses its relevance as soon the candidate is elected to the Governor’s office. Creating a PAC is just another version of a campaign committee in Virginia (though it can’t be called that) and a legal entity necessary to continue to raise funds for influencing elections. Interestingly, neither a PAC nor a candidate’s campaign committee in Virginia has any restrictions nor limits as to who may donate nor how much. Only Virginia and three other states do it this way.
Colonel, you and I have discussed before that of the 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, over 50 are populated by Republicans who run unopposed in the general election. They are elected largely by winning the Republican primary. I won’t get into the gerrymandering aspect of this so as not to be a whiner, but to have any chance of countering this situation, the Democrats and Gov. McAuliffe must first find someone willing and able to run for office in these districts. This will take time, organization, and cost money, lots of it.
Gov. McAuliffe obviously sees this, and if he has any chance at all of Democratic gains to support his legislative agenda in the HoD this coming cycle, he’s going to have to build some sort of Democratic campaign structure, field real candidates and fund them. He must do this from scratch. I don’t see how creating a PAC to further theses aims is anything other than a logical and legal solution.
National issues: Governor McAuliffe is not alone among Governors with personal PACs. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has his ‘Let’s get to work’ PAC. Gov. Cuomo had his ‘Committee to save New York’ PAC, until he dissolved it rather than identify its donors as required by 2011 NYS ethics law, that he himself signed. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has her ‘Jan’ PAC. And recently Gov. Rick Perry of Texas filed to turn his former Presidential campaign committee into a personal PAC. These are just a few examples. I’m sure if I dug deeper, I could find at least 45 more. So like Virginia, personal PACs run by Governors are largely business as usual in this country.
In the article cited, some attention is placed on the perks offered to donors at various levels of contribution. Mr. Shapiro states: “there are some things you shouldn’t put in writing” and “sounds suspiciously as if Virginia government is for sale”. Making this distinction for Gov. McAuliffe is unfair and speculative on Mr. Shapiro’s part. His first point about perks for contributors is practiced nationwide, and two, as I said above, if government in Virginia is for sale by virtue of a Governor’s PAC, it has been for a while.(I do give Mr. Shapiro points for using the word ‘eleemosynary’ in a sentence, however.) Offering different perks to donors for higher levels of contribution is a common political fundraising tactic, and it’s often stated quite directly. Here’s just one example of the myriad that exist:
“If you have $40,000 to spend, President Barack Obama’s campaign has a deal for you. Write a big check, and you’ll get you a picture with the president and a chance to swap political strategy with him – all while enjoying a gourmet meal at the lavish home of a Hollywood celebrity or Wall Street tycoon. And if you’re lucky, you might just end up with a plum post as a U.S. ambassador or an invitation to an exclusive White House state dinner.
Obama not your preference? No problem. Mitt Romney is offering donors perks that include everything from a private dinner with him to seats at the fall debates.”
How Gov. McAuliffe’s solicitation differs from the many made the same way escapes me.
Ultimately the most disturbing thing about all of this, is its complete legality. One may speculate all they want about Gov. McAuliffe’s motivations and ethics regarding his PAC, but really he’s just a part of a larger system that allows all of this. And this system stinks.
Col., I recall a post where we agreed that in order to eliminate the pervasive influence of money in politics in this country all campaigns should be publicly funded. (I searched for that post for a while, but could not find it. It was in response to a question TTG had posited about ever being able to eliminate the influence of AIPAC over our government.) Until this happens, and I pray for the sake of our Republic that one day it does, Terry McAuliffe is just another player in a long line of players using a rotten system, legally, to their advantage. Sadly, it’s all just business as usual. Perhaps the Committee could discuss public funding of campaigns one day?
You may see this as political fair play. I see it as cultural imperialism. I prefer Virginia as it has been rather than as a another version of Pennsylvania or Ohio as McAuliffe and Gillespie would like to have. To that end I will oppose this carpetbagger takeover to the end. The constitutional ban on consecutive terms for governor emerged from the time of post occupation governors when the conquerors ruled all, Mahone was the motivator. pl
A quick ride down the road from my home in Pennsylvania would bring you right to Amish and Mennonite country. It’s a testament to the ability of all sorts of cultures to survive here long term.
I realize you don’t approve of McAuliffe. I only met the man once. He was impressive to me, but I could not say from our one meeting if I would enjoy him being my Governor. The point I was trying to make was that he’s part of a larger problem for both Virginia and the nation.
By Elie Khedouries’s definitions I am a patriot rather than a nationalist.
I grieve for the Mennonites and the Amish as I do for all the Amerindians who live in the shadow of benign paternalist domination.
Is that our fate in Virginia and the rest of the South because you people think yourselves so superior? We long resisted this and now we have this carpetbagger political hack who sits in Mr. Jefferson’s chair. pl
With all due respect, “you people”? Can I not be just a man with an opinion, and an enjoyment of your thoughts relative to my own? I mean no offense.
No. You are as different as Austrians are from Germans. pl
If it pleases you, then I guess so. But I really don’t follow.
Of course, you think we are one people. pl
Yes, I guess that is true. But I view it more as looking for common ground among people rather than believing we all should think or live the same way. I would describe my views more like that of a neighborhood where we all live and share certain common goals, even though we live in different houses.
Filthy lucre to clean the Augean Stables. Now that is rather humorous; sadly the polisci crowd think so little of Virginians, or any other American for that matter, that they believe it will work.
I can get a bit confused by “labeling ‘ our various national politicians . But I do believe that Ed Gilliespe & Terry Mac Auliffe are two sides of the same monied coin that holds our Comity hostage for the Corporate Elite. Maybe we could all agree to start by stopping the auctioning off of our elections – even if we are not ‘one ‘people.
Regarding the main post, and the exchange between our host and nick b:
Maybe certain strains of graft and carpet-bagging find hosts in closely-balanced, two-party states. Things are different in Wisconsin than in Illinois, compare New Jersey and Pennsylvania.