Hubris, ignorance and cronyism in VA governor’s race

Hubris, ignorance and cronyism in VA governor’s race

McAuliffe Bill Clinton“Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to raise money for a governor. They have all kinds of business to hand out. Road contracts, construction jobs, you name it.” – Terry McAuliffe

You have to hand it to Terry McAuliffe. If not for the race for Virginia governor, then at least a degree of admiration for declaring, publicly, what few politicians will admit.

The mainstream news media, which have cataloged such McAuliffe-isms, are another story.

Last December, Watchdog.org launched an investigation into McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive company  — a crony-filled outfit juiced with inside political connections.

Midway through our series that detailed involvement by the Clinton clan and top Obama administration officials, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began their own investigations into McAuliffe & Co.

Scandal is in the air. Yet Virginia’s newshounds haven’t picked up the scent.

Mainstream news coverage often casts the GreenTech story as a simple real-estate decision. To wit: Terry McAuliffe located his electric-car company in Mississippi because that’s where the best government incentives were.

If that’s the sum total of the GreenTech story, it wouldn’t amount to much. Just your standard public-private, rent-seeking scheme. Just Terry being Terry.

Indeed, McAuliffe’s overblown and ironic claims as a “job creator” have not hurt him in the media or scared away donors trolling for “business.”

In the absence of actual news reporting, voters are not informed how GreenTech has leveraged a U.S. immigration program for millions of dollars and paltry results.

Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli understates the case, saying, McAuliffe has “sold more visas to foreign nationals than he has produced cars.”

Norm Leahy, editor of the center-right website Bearing Drift, wonders if GreenTech has any traction politically.

“Yes, it’s under federal investigation. And of course, the company’s president rues the day he welcomed Terry McAuliffe on board. But does anyone else care?” he asks.

Is cronyism that difficult to detect? It should be obvious coming from someone who glibly talks about dealing state contracts and expanding government without bothering to do the math.

A couple of months ago, Richmond Times-Dispatch political columnist Jeff Schapiro suggested that GreenTech could backfire on McAuliffe.

“It is clearly a subject about which he is very sensitive and the Republicans have a chance to really needle him on it,” Schapiro opined on Virginia Public Radio.

Since then, McAuliffe has buried his critics under a mountain of out-of-state cash and scorched Cuccinelli with a blitzkrieg of negative TV ads.

And, of course, Bill and Hillary Clinton are out there, whooping up the masses for their crony while privately hosting $25,000-per-couple fundraisers on his behalf.

Schapiro’s newspaper last month called McAuliffe a “deeply unserious candidate (who) isn’t ready for the office he seeks.” Yet the Times-Dispatch’s editorial board is sitting out this election.

Many reporters are on autopilot, as well, content to compare campaign war chests and regurgitate opinion polls. It’s at least a self-fulfilling exercise.

McAuliffe, meanwhile, deftly ducks challenging questions from anyone still asking them. At the post-debate press gaggle at Virginia Tech, one of McAuliffe’s minions designated four reporters with the honor of lobbing softballs to the candidate — after which McAuliffe abruptly departed, like the very busy executive he fashions himself.

Cuccinelli, by contrast, will stand and field dozens of tough questions, unscripted. His press team liberally quotes from the same mainstream outlets that endorse his opponent.

Tim Carney, director of the Culture of Competition Project at the American Enterprise Institute, says the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli race “might be the clearest contrast we’ve seen of a corporatist Democrat running against a free-market populist.”

Corporate media outlets  — including McAuliffe’s endorsers at the “independent” Washington Post  —don’t appear to grasp Carney’s distinction. Or they just don’t care. Either way, there’s not much public service happening at Virginia’s Fourth Estate.

FOOTNOTE: GreenTech filed an $85 million libel lawsuit against Watchdog on April 8, three days after the company announced McAuliffe had resigned as chairman … in December. McAuliffe now holds the title of “chairman emeritus” and remains GreenTech’s largest shareholder.

Cross-posted at Watchdog.org


Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”

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