McAuliffe defends cabinet member’s free Redskins ticket as part of push for new stadium

WASHINGTON – Despite much publicity over a ban on gifts worth more than $100, Virginia’s Secretary of Trade took a luxury box ticket to the Redskins playoff game this month. Gov. Terry McAuliffe says there was nothing wrong with that since it was part of the battle among D.C., Maryland and Virginia to be home to the next Washington football stadium.

A McAuliffe spokesman had previously said Maurice Jones used the $300 box seat to promote doing business in Virginia.

“The mayor of D.C., the governor of Maryland were there, all invited by the Redskins. We are all competing to get the new Redskins park, this is active competition, so he was there representin’, if I were in town, I would have been there too,” McAuliffe tells WTOP.

“If you think for one second I am going to let the governor of Maryland or the mayor of the District have unfettered access on this, you don’t know me well, so I want to thank the secretary for putting the flag down. As I say, I was out of town, otherwise I would have been there, and I would have been working it like a dog,” he adds.

An ethics law passed last year that McAuliffe branded as a top priority expanded the gift ban implemented following the corruption charges against former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell to cover intangible gifts like tickets.

There is an exemption for “widely attended events” that lawmakers say was meant to cover things like community banquets.

“I go to a lot of U. Va. And Virginia Tech games, members of the General Assembly all there, all bellied up to the buffet bar,” McAuliffe says.

When asked whether Jones made any progress on a stadium deal, McAuliffe did not offer specifics.

“We are in active negotiations, I would love to see the Washington Redskins in Virginia,” he says.

McAuliffe has said to back his case that a majority of season ticket holders and all or nearly all of the players live in Virginia.

“Obviously it makes natural sense. Their lease is coming up, they are going to make a decision, they are most likely going to move from their present location, so we’re all working…we chase every major project, we don’t get them all, nor do we want them all, but we chase them all,” he says.

McAuliffe has had his own discussions with the team, which has donated to his campaign.

He says any deal would have “to make economic sense for our taxpayers.”

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