Access to new Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is for sale and he doesn’t come cheap.
The governor’s Political Action Committee is pitching “insider access” which includes a private dinner with he and his wife, participate in roundtable discussions with Virginia’s top politician and meet once a month with the Old Dominion’s “policy experts.”
While it is not unusual to large dollar donors to a governor are even a president, McAuliffe’s sale of such access comes at a record price and is odd for someone who followed the questionable ethics of former Gov. Bob McDonnell, who gave the now-discredited former CEO of a dietary supplement company access in exchange for lavish gifts and cash.
McDonnell and his former pro football cheerleader wife face federal corruption charges over their sale of access in exchange for cash, Rolex watches and use of a Smith Mountain Lake mansion.
McAuliffe’s PAC “adviser,” calls the creation of the “access for cash” system is a “just a standard fundraising system where people are able to go to events for a certain donation.”
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary,” Michael Halle told Washington Post reporter Laura Vozella.
Others, including Democrats startled to hear of the governor’s program, disagree.
“It’s absolute madness to try something like this in a state where the ethics of a governor came under scrutiny and resulted in federal charge,” said Washington-based Democratic political adviser John Stalling told Blue Ridge Muse.
Others say McAuliffe is following his questionable practice of selling stays in the Lincoln bedroom in the White House when he was a fundraiser and adviser for President Bill Clinton.
“Governor McAuliffe’s claim to fame was selling access to the Lincoln bedroom,” says Matthew Moran, spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said in e-mail to the press.
“Is anyone surprised he’s selling access to the Governor’s mansion? Meanwhile, local governments continue under a cloud of uncertainty, waiting for the state to pass a budget, because the Governor needed two weeks to fundraise before the special session,” he added.
Virginia’s general assembly is in recess before returning to Richmond to try, once again, to pass a budget that, among other things, allows localities to know amounts necessary for city and country budgets for a new fiscal year that begins on July 1.