Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) on Tuesday said he is perplexed by the federal probe into campaign donations to his 2013 gubernatorial run.
“I’m really baffled by this story in the first place,” he told reporter Ronica Cleary during an interview with Fox 5 D.C. “I’ll be honest with you — if I was sitting in the private sector, not as governor, I don’t think someone would, this would have risen to the level.
“But listen, it’s OK. You get in this business. You open yourself up and I’m fine doing that when you’re confident you haven’t done anything wrong.”
Reports emerged on Monday that the FBI and the Justice Department’s public integrity unit are looking into campaign contributions to McAuliffe three years ago.
The agencies are investigating, among other things, $120,000 in donations from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. Foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to any American campaign unless they have a green card, which clears such contributions.
McAuliffe on Tuesday said Wenliang has a well-documented record of donating to individuals and institutions in the U.S.
“Well, as I say, he’s a major contributor to Harvard,” he said. “He sits on the board of New York University. Two of our most prestigious universities. He’s very active. Everybody takes his money.”
McAuliffe added that federal scrutiny into his past campaign contributions would not hinder his current duties as Virginia’s governor.
“Listen, I’m carrying on my schedule as governor,” he said. “No one’s alleged I’ve done anything wrong. And you just got to continue to do.
“I’m governor, I’m out doing what I need to do to help the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” added McAuliffe, who has previously endorsed Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
McAuliffe tried distancing the probe from his ties with the Clinton family during a press conference earlier Tuesday.
“This has nothing to do with Clinton Foundation,” he said at the State Arboretum of Virginia. “This was an allegation of a gentleman who gave a check to my campaign. I didn’t bring the donor in; I didn’t bring him into the Clinton Foundation. I don’t even know if I’ve ever met the person.”
Officials are also purportedly investigating McAuliffe’s role at the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton’s charitable organization.
A Washington Post report from last year found that 120 donors who gave to Clinton charities gave more than $13 million to McAuliffe’s election efforts in 2013.
McAuliffe is a long-time Clinton ally who spearheaded Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. He also served as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2000.
By Mark Hensch