- Former chairman of the Democratic National Committee
- Chaired President Bill Clinton’s multimillion-dollar legal defense fund during the Monica Lewinsky scandal
- Has been investigated by the federal government for questionable business deals
Born on February 9, 1957 in Syracuse, New York, Terry McAuliffe graduated from Catholic University in 1979 and from Georgetown Law School in 1984. In 1985 he established the Washington, DC-based law firm/lobbying agency of McAuliffe, Kelly & Raffaelli, and he co-founded Federal City National Bank, also in Washington. Three years later, the bank's governing board elected McAuliffe as its chairman.
McAuliffe first gained widespread public notice as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party, a career he launched as the national finance director of President Jimmy Carter’s failed re-election bid in 1980. McAuliffe thereafter went on to serve as a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and as the finance director for Democrat Richard Gephardt's 1988 presidential campaign. Four years later, he raised money for Bill Clinton's first presidential run.
By 1992 as well, McAuliffe was successfully persuading pro-Democrat labor unions to invest scores of millions of member pension-fund dollars in a Florida real-estate firm which he had established. “Not all those loans got repaid, however,” reports The Washington Examiner. “After McAuliffe's real estate company failed to pay one $6 million loan from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Department of Labor sued. It claimed [that] the pension trustees improperly invested with McAuliffe since they should have known the loan would never be repaid. In 2001, those trustees were forced to pay the union $4.95 million in restitution. McAuliffe got off scot-free.”
McAuliffe was particularly adept at the raising of so-called soft money for political campaigns – funds that, by endorsing an overall cause or party rather than a specific candidate, were legally permitted to exceed the limits normally placed on political contributions.
In early January 1995 – just a few weeks after Democrats had lost control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the mid-term elections of 1994 – McAuliffe authored a memo suggesting that President Clinton, in order to strengthen his ties with Democratic donors, should personally invite them to such events as meals, golf games, or his morning jogs. “He [McAuliffe] wrote nothing about [White House] sleepovers,” reported McClatchy News, “but the idea for them was mentioned in notes that were later written on the document, and scandal erupted when it was [eventually] revealed that the administration was using overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom to court high-dollar donors.” The New York Times reports that Mr. Clinton himself “wrote on the back of the memorandum ... that he was ready to start overnight visits right away.”
Notwithstanding his success at raising money, McAuliffe has been the subject of a number of federal investigations into questionable business deals and real estate ventures, illegal fundraising initiatives, and campaign finance abuses. One case involved a lease with a government agency for which McAuliffe’s firm may have illegally received a $375,000 contingency fee. According to the leftist publication Mother Jones:
“The DOJ first began investigating McAuliffe’s deals in the fall of 1995, after the Washington Business Journal reported that Prudential Insurance Co. promised to pay McAuliffe the $375,000 fee when the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) signed a 15-year, $187 million lease for a downtown Washington building owned by Prudential. At the time of the deal in 1993, McAuliffe ran the Business Leadership Forum, a fundraising arm of the Democratic National Committee. (Prudential contributed $85,000 to Democrats in 1993, including $35,000 for two 'presidential dinners' shortly after the lease in question was signed.) According to the DOJ, federal law restricts contingency fees in deals involving federal agencies such as the PBGC, in part to prevent politically connected businesses from gaining an unfair advantage in government deals.”
In 1996 McAuliffe served as the national finance chairman of the Clinton-Gore re-election committee.
In 1997 McAuliffe was involved in a money laundering scandal that involved the illegal juggling of funds between McAuliffe, the tax-exempt group Citizen Action, the AFL-CIO, the Democratic Party, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, and the leaders and officials of individual labor unions (including the SEIU, the Teamsters Union, and AFSCME). One purpose of this juggling was to launder money, through Citizen Action, to Ron Carey's campaign for re-election as president of the Teamsters Union. The Washington Times reports that McAuliffe was responsible “for some of the most questionable perhaps illegal ... donations.” According to the Internal Revenue Service:
- (1) “The Teamsters donated $475,000 to Citizen Action, and in return, Citizen Action allegedly helped channel some of that money to the Carey campaign.... Citizen Action paid off a previously forgiven 1990 loan for $25,000 plus interest, and then the lender, Jeremy Sherman, sent $35,000 to the Carey campaign. This appears to be just one example of how the some of the $475,000 was allegedly laundered through Citizen Action.”
- “Citizen Action reportedly sent $75,000 to Michael Ansara's Share Consulting for work that was never done. The $75,000 allegedly went instead to reimburse Ansara's wife, Barbara Arnold, in part for her $95,000 contribution to the Carey campaign. This may also have been part of the $475,000 plan.”
- “Citizen Action reportedly paid $100,000 to Martin Davis' November Group after receiving $150,000 from the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka, which he allegedly received from the Teamsters. This $100,000 reportedly went to help pay for a large direct-mail effort that the November Group was executing for the Carey campaign.”
The Washington Examiner reports that during the 1990s: “McAuliffe helped a company named Loral Space get seats on official trade missions, and, reportedly with McAuliffe's intervention, the Clinton administration overruled national security officials to approve a Loral deal that gave China critical missile technology. Loral's CEO [subsequently] became the largest donor to the Democratic National Committee, where McAuliffe became chairman.”
When the Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1998 threatened to cause a diminution of President Bill Clinton's political war chest, McAuliffe initiated and chaired Clinton’s multimillion-dollar legal defense fund. As the '90s drew to a close, McAuliffe boasted that he and his staff had raised the unprecedented sum of $275 million for various Clinton causes, among which were two political elections as well as Bill Clinton’s presidential library and his legal defense fund.
As Hillary Clinton prepared to run for a U.S. Senate seat representing New York, McAuliffe in 1999 pledged to put up $1.35 million in cash to help the Clintons secure a mortgage on a lavish suburban home in Chappaqua. Thereafter, McAuliffe raised large sums of money for Hillary's successful 2000 campaign.
In 1999 McAuliffe pocketed an extraordinary windfall when the value of his $100,000 initial investment in the telecommunications company Global Crossing (GC) grew (in just 18 months) to approximately $18 million; he netted $8.1 million when he sold 176,017 of his shares in GC. Moreover, The New York Times reports that McAuliffe earned yet additional millions by trading GC's stock and options after the company went public in 1998. Press reports indicate that McAuliffe also did “political” work for Global Crossing CEO Gary Winnick, and even arranged a golf outing for Winnick with then-president Bill Clinton. Winnick would later contribute $1 million to Clinton’s presidential library. Soon after Winnick made this contribution, the Pentagon awarded Global Crossing a $400 million contract. Before long, GC had become the Democratic Party’s biggest corporate donor.
The Bush administration eventually cancelled the Pentagon deal when it learned of irregularities in the bidding process, which were detailed in separate complaints filed by those who had lost the bidding war. Global Crossing’s stock price quickly plummeted at that point, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002. In summation, this was a case where GC had artificially inflated its stock price, allowing its executives – and Terry McAuliffe – to reap enormous profits during the year preceding GC’s bankruptcy filing – while employees lost their 401(k) retirement plans and their life savings.
McAuliffe served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2000-05, during which time he raised a record $578 million and brought the DNC out of debt for the first time in its history. After McAuliffe had orchestrated a three-hour DNC fundraiser in 2000 that brought in $26.5 million, Vice President Al Gore dubbed him “the greatest fundraiser in the history of the universe.”
In 2007, McAuliffe published his memoir, What A Party!, which became a New York Times best-seller.
In 2008 McAuliffe chaired Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful presidential campaign, and was one of her superdelegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
In 2009 McAuliffe ran for governor of Virginia and lost; he ran again in 2013 and emerged victorious. In that latter campaign, he received a $120,000 donation from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang, a former delegate to China’s National People’s Congress, described by CNN as “the country’s ceremonial legislature.” In May 2016, CNN reported that the FBI was investigating McAuliffe “over whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign” – most notably by Wenliang – “violated the law.” Wenliang had also pledged $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, whose Clinton Global Initiative counted McAuliffe among its board members.
In April 2013 The Washington Examiner reported on McAuliffe's suspicious relationship with an electric car company called GreenTech:
“During the closing days of then-Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's tenure in 2009, McAuliffe sought approval from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, or VEDP, to help create an Immigrant Investor Regional Center in Sussex County. A Regional Center designation would have allowed McAuliffe to raise money for his new GreenTech electric car company from Chinese nationals, who would then receive visas to live in America after they invested in McAuliffe's company.
“But the director of business development at the VEDP apparently knew a hustler when she saw one. Citing McAuliffe's complete lack of 'management expertise' and 'market preparation,' she concluded that his company was nothing more than a 'visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.' Her supervisor agreed. The VEDP did not grant McAuliffe his Regional Center designation, so McAuliffe took his business to Mississippi, where one was already established.
“Except GreenTech has not been doing much actual business since setting up shop in Mississippi. The company was supposed to begin producing tens of thousands of electric-powered cars a year by 2011. That didn't happen. In fact, Tunica County, Miss., has since pursued GreenTech for not paying taxes in 2012. GreenTech tried to claim that it had a deal with the state exempting it from local property taxes, but the county countered by noting that that tax break only applied if GreenTech was producing cars. It is not. So GreenTech was forced to pay up.
“McAuliffe very quietly left GreenTech last December  without any public notice by him or GreenTech. He now claims he left the company to focus on his run for governor in Virginia and has no clue about any unpaid taxes or visa-for-sale scheme.”
In July 2013, National Review Online (NRO) reported that then-gubernatorial candidate McAuliffe had once headed – and was still closely tied to – Leaf Clean Energy, a self-described “renewable energy and sustainable technology investment firm” headquartered in a Cayman Islands building that many prominent Democrats have long denounced as an immoral and irresponsible tax shelter, and which President Obama once called “the largest tax scam in the world.” “During the 2012 presidential campaign,” said NRO, “McAuliffe himself suggested that GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s use of tax shelters created the impression if not the reality of impropriety”
In October 2013, The Washington Post reported that McAuliffe had invested money with a Rhode Island estate planner “charged with defrauding insurers by using the stolen identities of terminally ill people.” “McAuliffe’s name,” said the Post, “appeared on a lengthy list of investors with Joseph A. Caramadre, an attorney and accountant who obtained the identities of dying people to set up annuities that ultimately cost insurance companies millions of dollars.” Federal court documents related to the case did not accuse McAuliffe of wrongdoing, and McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign spokesman said that McAuliffe was merely a “passive investor” who had been deceived by Caramadre. In November 2012, Caramadre and his former employee, Raymour Radhakrishnan, pleaded guilty to a 66-count indictment accusing them of wire fraud, money laundering, and witness-tampering. Notably, in 2009 Caramadre had donated $26,599 to McAuliffe’s first gubernatorial campaign. Said the Post report:
“Federal authorities say Caramadre, through his firm Estate Planning Resources, began developing products in the 1990s that used the identities of terminally ill people to purchase variable annuities from insurance companies. The annuities offered death benefits when those annuitants died. The investments — which Caramadre allegedly made on behalf of himself, friends, family and others — included returns of all the money invested and sometimes a guaranteed profit, federal authorities said.
“In 2006, Caramadre also began investing in 'death-put bonds' that relied on obtaining the identities of terminally ill people, according to prosecutors. These investments allowed the owner to redeem the bonds years or decades earlier than the maturity date when the bond’s co-owner died. The FBI … said Caramadre located terminally ill people by visiting AIDS patients at a hospice, locating relatives of terminally ill people, and placing an ad in a local Catholic newspaper offering $2,000 cash to people with a terminal illness.”
In October 2015, McAuliffe was one of nine state governors who signed a letter praising the Obama administration’s executive measures designed to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, and exhorting House and Senate leaders to formally complete the process of ending America's longstanding trade embargo of Cuba.
On April 22, 2016 – two days after the Virginia's State General Assembly had adjourned – Governor McAuliffe, in a move that was without precedent in Virginia's history, issued an executive order to restore the voting rights of 206,000 convicted “nonviolent” felons – who could be counted upon to vote overwhelmingly Democrat – in his important battleground state. McAuliffe's order classified all drug-related convictions as “non-violent,” it shortened the application for more serious offenders from thirteen pages to one page, and it removed a requirement that individuals pay their court costs before they could have their voting rights restored. Lamenting that the disfranchisement of felons “disproportionately affects racial minorities and economically disadvantaged Virginians,” McAuliffe said: “If we are going to build a stronger and more equal Virginia, we must break down barriers to participation in civic life for people who return to society seeking a second chance. We must welcome them back and offer the opportunity to build a better life by taking an active role in our democracy. I believe it is time to cast off Virginia’s troubling history of injustice and embrace an honest, clean process for restoring the rights of these men and women.” “Today,” he added, “we are reversing that disturbing trend and restoring the rights of more than 200,000 of our fellow Virginians who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our Commonwealth.” Moreover, the governor vowed to re-enfranchise even more felons – including some violent offenders – before his term of office expired in January 2018.
Prior to McAuliffe's executive order, the governor's administration had already restored the voting rights of more than 18,000 Virginians, which was more than the state's previous seven governors, combined, had done. Further, as Matthew Vadum reported in FrontPage Magazine, “The 206,000 figure for newly enfranchised felons … is substantially more than President Obama's relatively thin 149,000 [vote] margin of victory over Mitt Romney (R) in Virginia in 2012.”
In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia struck down McAuliffe’s executive order on grounds that it exceeded the governor's powers under the Virginia Constitution; at issue was the fact that McAuliffe's order had restored the rights en masse rather than on an individual basis. The Court also ruled that individual voters had a right to sue to prevent their votes from being offset by those of 200,000+ illegal voters. But a defiant McAuliffe vowed to sidestep the court ruling by individually reviewing every single case as quickly as possible, and using an autopen to sign the documents restoring each felon's voting rights. As the Washington Post put it, “The difference between McAuliffe’s original action and his current approach is largely procedural. Instead of simply announcing that any felon whose sentence is complete is eligible to vote, the administration now will mail a notice to that effect to each one.” By election day 2016, McAuliffe had restored the voting rights of 50 to 60 thousand previously ineligible convicted felons.
In October 2016, the London Daily Mail reported on yet another scandal involving McAuliffe:
“Hillary Clinton headlined a major fundraiser for a political action committee shortly before the group steered nearly $500,000 to the wife of the FBI official who oversaw the Clinton email investigation, DailyMail.com has learned. Clinton's ties to the Common Good VA – a Virginia state PAC run by Clinton's long-time friend and advisor Terry McAuliffe, its governor – came under scrutiny this week after the Wall Street Journal reported that the group donated heavily to the state senate campaign of Jill McCabe. Her husband, Andrew McCabe, led the FBI investigation into Clinton's emails. Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI, told the Wall Street Journal that he complied with federal ethics rules and was not promoted to lead the Clinton probe until months after his wife's unsuccessful state senate bid ended.
“But Republicans said the large payments from McAuliffe's PAC to Jill McCabe raise questions about the impartiality of the FBI's investigation, which determined that Clinton and her aides did not violate any laws while using a private email server to conduct government business.
“Common Good VA was the largest single donor to Jill McCabe's campaign, election records show, giving her $467,000 between June and October of 2015.... Her campaign also received an additional $207,788 from the Democratic Party of Virginia, a group over which McAuliffe exerts significant control. Combined, the money made up nearly one-third of her total funding.…
“But Clinton's ties to Common Good VA go beyond her relationship with McAuliffe. In June 2015, she headlined a key fundraiser for the group, which reportedly brought in over $1 million for the PAC and the Democratic Party of Virginia. In the four months that followed, five-and-six-figure donations poured into Common Good VA from out-of-state Clinton supporters and aides.
“Common Good VA, which McAuliffe founded in 2014, also appeared to act as a holding zone for future Clinton campaign staffers. Over the past two years, at least five employees left the small PAC to take senior roles in Clinton's campaign, according to Virginia election records reviewed by the DailyMail.com.
“The National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based government watchdog group, said the financial trail raises significant concerns about the neutrality of the FBI investigation overseen by Andrew McCabe. 'The fact that Hillary Clinton's inner circle was raising substantial funds for Gov. McAuliffe's PAC and this same PAC gave close to a half-million dollars to the campaign of the wife of the senior FBI official involved in the Clinton investigation sure looks like a payoff – a major payoff,' said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center.”
In January 2017, McAuliffe pledged to veto a piece of legislation attempting to ban abortion after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Claiming that the bill would damage the state’s image and business climate because abortion is a “socially divisive” issue, he implored Virginia’s General Assembly not to “waste time” attempting to pass it.
On January 31, 2017, McAulliffe appeared with Attorney General Mark Herring to announce that Virginia was joining the lawsuit Aziz vs. Trump, challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump's executive order calling for a temporary moratorium on immigration to from seven majority-Muslim countries that were known to be hotbeds of Islamic terrorism.
For additional information on Terry McAuliffe, click here.
 One anecdote from McAuliffe's work on the Carter campaign illustrates the lengths to which McAuliffe was willing to go, in order to raise money: When Seminole Chief Jim Billie (of Florida) famously pledged to donate $15,000 to the Carter campaign if McAuliffe would agree to wrestle an 8-foot, 260-pound alligator for three minutes, McAuliffe took up the challenge and subsequently collected the money.