Tow operator opens wallet to put brakes on McAuliffe veto

This March 8, 2016 file photo shows State Sen. Dave W. Marsden, D-Fairfax, during the floor session of the Virginia Senate at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. In early April, lawmakers rejected McAuliffe's proposed amendment to a towing bill leaving him the option of vetoing the bill or signing it into law. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Newly filed records show the owner of one of Northern Virginia’s largest towing companies spent several thousand dollars in an effort to stave off a veto by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on legislation loosening towing regulations.

John O’Neill, the owner of Advanced Towing, hired two of McAuliffe’s longtime friends as lobbyists and made a large campaign contribution to a Democratic state senator who had opposed the bill but McAuliffe said was later a key advocate convincing him to sign it.

Those involved said it was a full-court press by the business community that convinced the governor to back the bill and O’Neill’s spending had no impact.

But opponents of the new law said the spending highlights how businesses with deep pockets are often at an advantage politically in Virginia.

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