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Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Is Getting Even More Negative

Memo Pad Politics

Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Is Getting Even More Negative


Virginia’s gubernatorial race, between Republican state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, is getting dirtier and dirtier as Election Day draws nearer.

In recent months, the two candidates have proved there are no boundaries when it comes to publicly shaming one another.

In the past weeks, Cuccinelli has used McAuliffe’s former position as a chairman of troubled GreenTech Automotive to slam his opponent as the “bad-for-business candidate.” Following a Washington Post editorial that declared, “Virginians are right to press [McAuliffe] for answers” about his role in the dealings that have resulted in two separate federal probes of the company, McAuliffe wrote in an op-ed of his own, attempting to set the record straight.

McAuliffe wrote: “I’ve not been contacted in any way by those conducting the investigation and have no knowledge of it beyond what has been reported. …The investigation appears to be looking at a document…something I was not responsible for as a chairman.”

That explanation has, unsurprisingly, not impressed Cuccinelli. His campaign immediately responded to McAuliffe’s op-ed with  this statement: “Today, Terry McAuliffe failed to put forward a serious or honest explanation concerning the multiple investigations of [sic] which GreenTech Automotive is entangled.”

The statement added: “Terry McAuliffe has one of two choices: he can claim to be completely incompetent or a total fraud.”

As the Cuccinelli campaign seekes to exploit the controversy surrounding GreenTech, McAuliffe’s is targeting Cuccinelli with ethics attacks of his own. The Democrat has repeatedly gone after Cuccinelli over $18,000 in gifts that he received and accepted from Star Scientific, the firm at the center of Republican governor Bob McDonnell’s legal woes. On Monday, McAuliffe released a new ad attacking Cuccinelli’s ties to the firm:

Governor McDonnell’s recent return of the gifts he received and accepted from Star Scientific – valued at over $145,000 — was expected to set precedent for Cuccinelli’s decision. But, Cuccinelli has refused to follow the governor’s example, giving McAuliffe more ammunition against him.

Cuccinelli initially refused to even report all the gifts he received from Star Scientific’s CEO Jonnie Williams, but eventually did. The list of gifts includes an expensive dinner, private flights, and vacation lodgings.

A new billboard in Richmond, Virginia, with pictures of a turkey, airplane, and island, demands that Cuccinelli “give back the gifts.”

For his part, Cuccinelli points out that Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring has cleared him of any wrongdoing. He issued the following statement on McAuliffe: “It’s the height of hypocrisy for the man who rented the Lincoln Bedroom and Air Force One, used his political connections to make millions while others lost their jobs, and whose company is now under two federal investigations to even breathe the word ‘ethics.'”

The statement added: “Terry McAuliffe’s attacks are beyond absurd.”

Ironically, Cuccinelli has urged McDonnell to call a special session on ethics. McDonnell has refused to do so, saying he will propose his own ethics reform in January — the same month he leaves office. Cuccinelli has said that he believes a special session is the only way to begin earning back voters’ “trust.”

McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin countered, “It takes significant disrespect of voters’ intelligence for Ken Cuccinelli to pretend to support laws that would prevent him from taking the gifts he refuses to return.” He also reminded Virginians that the Republican candidate refused to support McAuliffe’s proposal for a $100 ban on gifts and the establishment of an independent ethics commission.

The most recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) in July showed McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli 41-to-37.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Twitter


  1. Sand_Cat August 19, 2013

    What a great idea: have the biggest crook in the state call a special “ethics” session of the legislature at the behest of the second biggest crook, who also happens to be even more batshit crazy than the incumbent.

  2. John Pigg August 19, 2013

    Actually, none of these criticisms seem below the belt or unfair.

    1.Terry McAuliffe’s connection with the failed Green Tech Automobile project is a fact and is a significant scandal, that he should be held accountable for.


    2.Ken Cuccinelli’s backroom gifts and favors reek of old school political bossism. And this also should be addressed, and he should at bear minimum accept responsibility.

    I would venture to guess that McAuliffe will be hurt more by his scandal than Cuccinelli. Whereas previously, he accupied the moral high ground in relation to Cuccinelli his connection with the failed GTA Project only served to put him on the same level as Cuccinelli.

    1. jointerjohn August 20, 2013

      It is also a fact that these scandal-driven campaigns usually favor the republican candidate. Voters who lean democratic grow discouraged and fail to vote while voters who lean republican will wade through flames to get to the polls. Also, the idea of term limits is absurd. The only thing that would do is have everyone in office kissing-up for a post-political corporate position, and our ballots full of unknowns. It’s the money that is the corrupting force, and no, money is not speech, it is money.

  3. Dominick Vila August 20, 2013

    Are there any honest politicians running for office? Why is it that our choices are more often than not picking the lesser evil? In situations like this, our best bet is to vote for an Independent, preferably one who does not enjoy the support of the big boys and the establishment. We need a third and, perhaps, a fourth party representing the center, and the viability of terms limits deserves consideration.

    1. sigrid28 August 20, 2013

      Term limits AND limits on contributions by individuals and corporations, while removing the secrecy behind donations and donators created by Citizens United. It goes without saying that bribes should not be part of the electoral process, though many elected officials seem to have overlooked this nicety.

      1. Sand_Cat August 20, 2013

        The only thing that will work, it seems to me, is no contributions by either individuals and corporations, or – if you can’t stomach that – no contributions or participation in any fashion in gathering individual contributions by corporations, with the death sentence – seizure of ALL corporate assets and arrest of corporate executives – for any violations.

    2. Billie August 20, 2013

      I say no parties at all. That way voters will have to look at the individual and not the party.

  4. browninghipower August 20, 2013

    Once again, voters are left with the choice of which candidateyou support because you hate his/her opponent? TM is another conservative Blue Dog Dem…an jerk who doesn’t give a damn about the poor or Middle Class. But his opponent is lower than whale shit and a very dangerous fascist. Once again, we the People are served up a crap sandwich. What a country.


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