April 16th, 2009
05:06 PM ET
3 years ago

Big name donors fuel McAuliffe's bid for Virginia governor

Terry McAuliffe is running for office in Virginia for the first time.
Terry McAuliffe is running for office in Virginia for the first time.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Donald is backing The Macker.

Donald Trump is just one of many big name donors funding Terry McAuliffe's campaign to win the Virginia governor's mansion this fall, according to newly released financial disclosure reports - and he isn't even among the most generous givers.

The New York real estate magnate cut McAuliffe a check for a whopping $25,000 in late March, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the largest single donation in McAuliffe's report - a $251,000 gift from billionaire media tycoon Haim Saban in January. That check narrowly bested a $250,000 contribution the following month from Steve Bing, another big fish in the entertainment industry.

McAuliffe raised $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2009, and thanks to Virginia's permissive fundraising laws, more than 80 percent of his cash came from donors who live outside the state.

In all, McAuliffe listed 87 donations of $10,000 or higher. By comparison, his Democratic rivals Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran reported 15 and 12 donations of $10,000 or higher, respectively. The Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, reported 25.

Like many of McAuliffe's contributors listed in the quarterly filing, Saban and Bing are longtime friends and financial patrons of Bill and Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe aggressively tapped into the Clinton network over the last three months, even hitting up the former president himself for a donation of $10,000 in January.

Seven McAuliffe donors who gave $5,000 or more to his campaign actually stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration, including Alan Patricof, who was a finance chairman for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Many of the names on McAuliffe's donor list sound familiar to those who followed Clinton's presidential bid in 2007 and 2008. Among them: BET founder Robert Johnson (who gave $100,000), former Clinton campaign co-chair J.B. Pritzker ($100,000), and former Clinton campaign finance co-chairman Hassan Nemazee ($10,000).

Other national political players who gave to McAuliffe include Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, former Al Gore campaign manager Tony Coelho, former Clinton administration adviser Doug Sosnik, and former Dick Gephardt and John Kerry strategist Steve Elmendorf.

McAuliffe also soaked up a $15,000 check from his one-time business partner Carl Lindner, the Cincinnati billionaire who has given to numerous political causes, but has collected millions for the Republican Party and was named a "Super Ranger" by the RNC for his fundraising efforts on behalf of George W. Bush in 2004. Lindner hosted a $25,000-a-head fundraiser at his home for John McCain's presidential campaign last summer.

Asked about the out-of-state money pouring into McAuliffe's coffers, campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith pointed out that he also managed to outraise both of his Democratic opponents among Virginia donors.

Smith stressed that the eventual Democratic nominee will need "broad financial support both in-state and nationally" to compete with McDonnell and the Republicans in November. She said McAuliffe is "the only Democrat who can compete with the Republicans' fundraising and build the statewide grassroots operation" to win this November.

The campaign finance reports were released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.


Filed under: Terry McAuliffe • Virginia
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Rob Johnson

    Terry McAuliffe is one of the main reason that I am happy Hillary Clinton didn't become President.

    One thing my conservative friends and I can agree on is that people like McAuliffe and Mark Penn represent the very worst in politics. Money and power are their main goals, not public service.

    If McAuliffe wins the Democratic nomination for Governor in Virginia, then I will probably find myself actively rooting for a Republican for the first time in my life.

    April 16, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. KATHLEEN

    Good, I hope McCauliffe wins! We could use more Democrats, and
    less Republicans as Governors.

    I hope Sarah Palin looses in Alaska. I do not like her.

    April 16, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Mississippi Mike

    More proof that it's the Democrats who are in the back pocket of big business, not Republicans. When will the general public figure this out?

    April 16, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Clarence, PA

    I'm a dye-in-the-wool Dem, and I don't like this guy. He was so dogmatic about Hillary, even when he knew she had zero chances of winning. It suddenly became All About Hillary and not the Democratic Party.

    I don't like this guy whatsoever.

    April 16, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. bill

    Jefferson, Madison, Washington. I am sorry you have to see this, but just be thankful your not here but in spirit, since you and your fellow founding extremeist woudl be on the DHS watchlist. Especially you, Washington. Veteren, believer in term limits and small Government, not to mention a practicing Christian gun owner.

    Not sure if there are any rational folks left out there with independent minds that see this emmense consolidation of Power as disturbing.

    Please, my fellow Virginians, get back to our senses

    April 16, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Enter GOPers stage right, spewing hatred because they're scared.

    April 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Bruce, Chicago

    Awesome, buying the election, that should work out well. This guy is a career politician...worse, a career behind the scenes operative and fund raiser...and now he may win the governor's mansion??? Money gets you anything I guess.

    April 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Candace, IL

    I agree Rob Johnson:

    I think McAuliffe should shift to the GOP because he is all about money and politics. He was perfect for Hillary. Don't get me started about her, I'm turning my cheek for the sake of the country. But they were like two peas in a pod–selfish to the inth degree.

    No, I won't be rooting for McAuliffe, he doesn't have a servants bone in his body. He will not be for the people. Really, I think he missed his calling. He should be a used car salesman or a Wall Streeter. Either would suit him fine.

    April 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. daniel cabrera

    Ok, he has the right to run for it,....but about what is he going to talk about?
    100 days are coming to an end and the ONLY THING OBAMA AND HIS GANG HAS FOR THE PUBLIC IS EXCUSES FOR NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS – MORE NICELY DESIGNED SPEECHES – WORDS WITHOUT SUBSTANCE ,….AND YET there some still half-hypnoticed at pseudo-letragic trance ‘obamanized’ indivuals that may chant ; ” CHANGE!,…CHANGE!,….CHANGE!
    Intersting dynamics,….you know,…with this ‘adventureland’ in front of our eyes , that alone is worth for living.

    April 16, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Was it Global Crossing?

    The company he walked away from with $100m that went bancrupt?

    April 16, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. SGTBIGO

    This is just another reason why I say that political donations should be made illegal. All canidates for office should be given the same amount of money and thats it. It could be given by the city,state or federal gov't depending on which office they are running for. That way NO ONE can buy an election.

    April 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. ib

    If this clown wins it will be time to move out of Va. while you can still afford it. If he wins taxes in Va. will go up again and we are already taxed beyond reasoning in this state.

    April 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |