WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are looking into whether some donations to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s election 2013 campaign were made illegally, according to multiple reports.
WTOP could not independently confirm the reports.
The Department of Justice would not confirm, nor deny, the investigation. And an attorney representing McAuliffe’s campaign told WTOP that neither the governor nor the campaign has been told that he is the subject of a federal investigation.
A call to the governor’s office was not immediately returned.
Three donations from Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang, to McAuliffe through his U.S. business appears to have prompted the investigation, which dates back at least a year, CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez told WTOP.
A New Jersey business controlled by Wang, West Legend, gave a total of $120,000 to McAuliffe in 2013, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign spending and donations in the state.
Foreign donors cannot contribute to U.S. campaigns. However Wang has a U.S. green card and is therefor legally able to contribute, Perez said.
“Contributions to the campaign from Wang were completely lawful,” said Marc Elias, an attorney for the McAuliffe campaign, in a statement to WTOP. “The governor will certainly cooperate with the government if he is contacted about it.”
Part of the investigation has looked into McAuliffe’s time spent as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton. Wang also donated to the foundation, Perez said.
According NBC News, more than 100 donors gave to both McAuliffe’s campaign and to the foundation. And investigators are looking into those common contributors.
McAuliffe, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, has been a major fundraiser for the party and is a longtime friend of the Clintons. He chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run for president and has actively campaigned for her current run for the White House. The Clintons in turn both campaigned for McAuliffe and attended his inauguration.
The investigation appears to focus on McAuliffe, not the foundation, and is ongoing, Perez said.
“We don’t know what else they are looking at,” he said.
Last year, McAuliffe’s political action committee Common Good Va. returned a $25,000 donation from a business with ties to an Angola state-run oil company because the PAC could not determine whether the donation was legal.
McAuliffe is barred by term limits from running for another term as governor.
WTOP’s J.J. Green and Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Gov. Terry McAuliffe will answer questions live in his monthly appearance on WTOP on Wednesday, May 25, at 10 a.m. You can submit questions on our Ask the Governor blog or on Twitter @WTOP with the hashtag #AskThe.
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