McAuliffe fundraising prowess becomes liability after Vineyard gala, disabilities snub

Terry McAuliffe is in a challenging race for Virginia governor against GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin.
Terry McAuliffe, Apr. 10, 2019

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe is famous for his voracious fundraising, from his roles as head of the Clinton money machine to his success the last time he was governor. But now his fund-raising is earning him some infamy.

McAuliffe, in a close race to reclaim the Virginia governorship against GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, has for decades raised millions for his party and some of its marquee candidates including former President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary Clinton, a two-time White House candidate. 

He and his staff reportedly raised $275 million, an unprecedented sum at the time, for Clinton's concerns while president. 

However, McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is now being accused of going one donation pledge too far by holding a high-dollar fundraiser on Martha's Vineyard, amid a national surge on COVID-19 cases that turned former President Obama’s 60th birthday party on the Massachusetts island into a PR disaster.

McAuliffe reportedly charged attendees thousands of dollars to attend the event, which he held Wednesday at Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner's $7 million island mansion.

Obama, following a recent spike in case numbers in nearby Cape Cod, scaled back the guest list for his and reportedly had guests thoroughly tested. However, the damage appeared already done before the revised list still included such celebrities John Legend, Chrissy Teigen and Don Cheadle and a video surfaced of Obama appearing to dance mask-less under a big tent on his multi-million-dollar estate.

The fundraiser marks McAuliffe's latest attempt to nationalize his fundraising efforts as he tries to defeat Youngkin, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Last week, he attended a Las Vegas fundraiser with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a fellow Democrat. 

McAuliffe reportedly skipped a candidate forum hosted by a disabilities advocacy group to fly to the event, drawing sharp rebuke from Virginia's disabled community, the Washington Free Beacon also reported.

Tickets ranged from $10,000 to $2,500, the invitation shows.

Still, this is not the first time McAuliffe’s fundraising has raised scrutiny.

After Bill Clinton' left office, he reportedly guaranteed the Clintons' $1.35 million mortgage for their home in Chappaqua, New York, raising ethical questions.

And back in the 1990s, he wrote the famous memo to then-President Clinton on rewarding donors that is widely credited for the oft-criticized practices of rewarding some fat cats with overnight stays in the White House's Lincoln Bedroom.