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Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie -- More Than Just Friends?

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News that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was in the midst of a deep dive criminal investigation into Virginia Govenor Terry McAuliffe is sending shockwaves through the political establishment. 

The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI investigation centers on whether McAuiffe violated the law by accepting political contributions — including a six-figure contribution from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang.  Allegations suggest that Wenliang may have laundered foreign money to McAuliffe’s campaign through his U.S. businesses.

The Post reported “West Legend Co., the New Jersey affiliate of Rilin Enterprises, a Chinese firm led by Wang, gave $120,000 to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign and inauguration. Wang’s donations attracted interest because he is closely linked to the Chinese government, both as a member of the National People’s Congress and as a contractor entrusted to build China’s embassies.”

But the investigation appears to heading well beyond mere campaign finance violations as federal investigators appear to be scrutinizing McAuiffe’s personal finances, as well.  McAuliffe’s personal bank records, as well as his tax returns, have been seized for review to determine when and how McAuliffe made income from abroad.  

An incident at the Department of Homeland Security may provide a hint.  A 2015 report from the inspector general of the Homeland Security detailed how McAuliffe received special treatment from the government in an effort to gain access to special visas for foreign investors.  The report also raised questions about McAuliffe’s company Greentech Automotive and his connections to Alejandro Mayorkas, a high-up official at Homeland Security who appears to have moved mountains to help the well-connected McAuliffe. 

Politically speaking, the news of the investigation could not at a worse time for the Virginia govenor.  A long-time confident of the Clinton’s, McAuliffe was preparing to help deliver “purple state” Virginia into the Democratic column this November. 

News of this kind would typically give a boost to McAuliffe’s political rivals but the leading candidate to replace McAuliffe is Ed Gillespie.  Gillespie, a Washington-insider himself, has a long-time relationship with the Virginia governor that could possible extend to the business world.

Gillespie and McAuliffe have been rivals and friends for two decades.  They competed against each other as McAuliffe was organizing the Democratic Convention in 2000 while Gillespie was doing the same for the GOP.  

The Washington Examiner said “McAuliffe and Gillespie share a deep, textured personal and professional history that, despite its contentious nature, is marked by mutual respect and admiration”….and “[A]fter stepping down as the chairmen of their respective parties, McAuliffe and Gillespie each wrote a memoir detailing professional accomplishments and lessons learned. Each attended the other’s book party.”

As a lobbyist. Gillespie made millions representing companies before the Congress and the White House. 

That begs the question — did their relationship extend beyond mutual affection and respect? 

Did they have business dealings with each other?

Sources say that the feds are looking into a host of business dealings between McAullife’s friends and allies, including, potentially, Gillespie.

Only time — and a good investigative reporter — will tell.  But one can assume that the news of the FBI’s scrutiny of McAuliffe did not go over well with Gillespie camp. 



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