Opinion
Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia makes remarks at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington in this file photo taken February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Theiler/Files Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia makes remarks at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington in this file photo taken February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Theiler/Files  

McAuliffe And The Clintons: Ties That Bind

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Jason Stverak
President, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
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      Jason Stverak

      Jason Stverak is the President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a leading journalism non-profit organization. The Franklin Center is dedicated to providing reporters and non-profit organizations at the state and local level with training, expertise, and technical support. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit www.FranklinCenterHQ.org.

Poor Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to know if she’s rich or “dead broke.” But, amidst her book tour and $200,000-a-pop speaking engagements, Mrs. Clinton says she and Bill got where they are with “hard work.”

Count Terry McAuliffe among the hardest workers in Clintonville.

Before Bill and Hillary vacated the White House in 2001, McAuliffe was asked how much money he raised for the Democratic Party during the Clinton era.

“Oh, I don’t know. People say 3 to 400 million. I stopped keeping track a long time ago,” he told MSNBC’S Lisa Myers.

As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and as the ex-officio booking agent for the Lincoln Bedroom under the Clintons, McAuliffe was known as the “Godzilla of fundraising.”

As governor of Virginia, McAuliffe is positioned to juice Mrs. Clinton’s anticipated 2016 presidential run – just as he did eight years ago when he was her campaign chairman.

Through the permeable membrane that is the Clinton-McAuliffe relationship, money and influence flow both ways.

Bill Clinton gave $100,000 to McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial run. Just as importantly, Clinton has introduced his protégé to world leaders and financiers – resulting in more contributions to McAuliffe.

Clinton’s IRS commissioner, Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, chipped in for McAuliffe, too. Richardson now sits on the board of directors of the company that funds McAuliffe’s former electric carmaker.

Anthony Rodham, Hillary’s younger brother, runs the fundraising arm for GreenTech Automotive.

Hillary’s first overtly political event after leaving the State Department was a fundraiser she hosted for McAuliffe at her Washington home. Mrs. Clinton headlined a subsequent high-dollar soiree in California, and stumped for her moneyman in Virginia.

Since taking office this year, McAuliffe has been back in California, where he introduced Hillary to a biotech conference – and more campaign cash.

It was a long way from the days when a scrappy McAuliffe boasted that he wrestled an alligator for $15,000. Now, more than ever, Hillary and McAuliffe are joined at the political hip.

For all the money in play, the Clinton-McAuliffe ties could put Hillary in a bind.

“McAuliffe represents an unseemly slice of Washington,” Stephanie Mencimer wrote in Mother Jones, most definitely not part of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

“When McAuliffe was the Dems’ top fundraiser, a campaign finance scandal besieged the Clinton White House. Coincidence? No. McAuliffe was all about pushing the envelope when it came to the political money chase.”

As if learning from the master, Mrs. Clinton cashed in at the State Department. Documents point to potential conflicts of interest in her speaking and consulting engagements that netted $48 million for “Clinton entities.”

McAuliffe has been there for Hillary, time and time again.