PAC & Play

Mar 19, 2014

The Governor's Mansion in Richmond

Critics are attacking Governor Terry McAuliffe for selling access to his office – offering opportunities to meet with him and other leaders in exchange for payments of up to $100,000. 

In announcing the formation of a political action committee called Common Good Virginia – Governor McAuliffe thanked supporters for helping him win election but said more money was needed to assure his success in office.  He invited people to contribute at one of four levels, from ten to one hundred thousand dollars, offering invitations to dinners and discussions with the governor and his wife.  At the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, analyst Geoff Skelley says such PACS are par for the political course – a way to raise money for future elections.

“McAuliffe can’t get re-elected, but he can use money from this PAC to help allies --- politicians or organizations that are trying to expand Medicaid – things of that nature that are part of his overall agenda.”  

He says 80-90% of congressmen and at least eight other governors have so-called Leadership PACs, as did McAuliffe’s predecessor.

“Bob McDonnell had a leadership PAC, and it raised about $8 million.”

Skelley says politicians are under no obligation to do favors for PAC donors, and  the key role of money in American politics makes fundraising of this kind essential. 

“There’s so much money in politics now that if someone doesn’t raise a lot of money that will help back them in a campaign or help with their agenda when they’re in office, it’s difficult to cut through.” 

Given McAuliffe’s history as a fundraising powerhouse for the Democratic party, he doubts anyone is really surprised, but Republicans issued a statement saying they were deeply disappointed that the governor seems more interested in playing politics than in governing.