Terry McAuliffe a fraud? No…

I apologize for the short and rushed essay, but I just wanted to get this story up as it’s breaking.  It might turn into some kind of bigger scandal for McAuliffe because people were convicted, in part, because of the things he apparently ordered them to do.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you’re probably familiar with “bonusgate.”  It’s a scandal in which a bunch of state employees, legislative aides, and legislators themselves were caught giving out bonuses for things like campaign work and “no-work jobs” that don’t legally deserve bonuses.  One of the things that actual convictions were handed out for was the payment of aides to use illegal means (ie, unfairly and dishonestly scrutinizing ballot access petitions) to keep Ralph Nader off of the ballot in 2004.

This was all part of Terry McAuliffe’s plan as the chairman of the DNC to keep Nader off of the ballot in 19 swing states.  Whether you’re a fan of Nader or not, McAuliffe and the people working under his command used dirty, sometimes illegal tactics to keep Nader off the ballot and stop the full democratic process from taking place.

Now, for the scandal part.  Here is the article I wrote for Independent Political Report earlier today explaining what’s going on:


The race for governor in Virginia is one of the most hotly contested elections in 2009.  In the Democratic primary, the established party figure Terry McAuliffe is facing off against a few opponents, but Theresa Amato is leveling the charge of hypocrisy against McAuliffe.  “Terry McAuliffe the candidate is not the Terry McAuliffe I knew as chairman of the DNC in 2004,” she said in a press release from the organization Free and Equal Elections.  Amato worked on Ralph Nader’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns for president and she has recently released a book called “Grand Illusion:  The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny.”

The press release explains:

In Grand Illusion, Amato, the national manager of Nader’s lightning-rod 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, recounts how, after Nader rebuffed Chairman McAuliffe’s offer, the DNC and its state party affiliates embarked on an effort, unprecedented in U.S. history, to force Nader out of the 2004 presidential election. Amato says McAuliffe repeated over and over during a conversation:  “Stay out of 19 states.”

McAuliffe’s 2004 attempt to confine Nader to 31 states, revealed an exclusionary and censorious Terry McAuliffe that is hard to reconcile with gubernatorial candidate McAuliffe’s professed support for ballot access and democratic participation as a candidate in Virginia’s 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Earlier this year, candidate McAuliffe told WTOP radio’s Mark Plotkin that “anyone is entitled to run for office,” and the more people who run for office, the better it is.” McAuliffe’s campaign blog also claims that he stands for “getting people engaged in the democratic process.”

It goes on to explain in more detail what McAuliffe did to keep Nader off of the ballot:

Pennsylvania was among the hotly-contested 2004 states where the Democrats and their allies successfully strong-armed Nader off the ballot.  In 2008, as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation, the Pennsylvania Attorney General has charged 12 members or employees of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus with using taxpayer money and resources for improper political purposes–including keeping 2004 Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the state’s ballot.  Criminal charges against the Pennsylvania state workers are still pending.

“Such a contrast invites explanation at the very least,” commented Christina Tobin, the chairman of Free and Equal.  “Perhaps candidate McAuliffe would now make amends by pledging to support free and equal elections and one reasonable federal standard for ballot access for federal office for all parties.”


Since then, Ballot Access News, one of the Washington Post’s blogs, and now Nader’s and his campaign’s accusations against McAuliffe are on the front page of the Nation’s website (let me know if you see the story anywhere else).

The Nation’s story actually ups the charges, saying that McAuliffe offered a bribe to Nader in order to stay off the ballot in those 19 states, something that was not clearly specified in the other stories, although they did say that Nader was called by McAuliffe.

Another part of the story, as you saw from the press release I posted at Independent Political Report, is that in his campaign McAuliffe has called for a more open democratic process, saying that “the more people who run for office, the better it is.”  This makes him a complete hypocrite if he supports that right in his speeches only, but suppresses the ballot access of his competitors.

To conclude, I’ll steal the ending of the Nation’s post on this:

Elisabeth Smith, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe, sounds like she is confirming the charge when says her boss “was concerned that Ralph Nader would cost John Kerry the election as he did Al Gore in 2000 and give us another four years of George W. Bush.”

Then she took a shot at Nader, suggesting there was no reason to be concerned about the issue.

“It looks like Ralph Nader misses seeing his name in the press,” Smith griped. “Terry’s focused on talking with Virginians about jobs, not feeding Ralph Nader’s ego.”

Nice spin.

But it does not get to the heart of the matter.

McAuliffe is asking the Democrats of Virginia to nominate him for a position of public trust. If he does not have a better explanation than the one that has so far been offered, there can and will be serious questioning of whether he’s got that ought to be expected of major-party nominee and a governor.


    • rossl on May 29, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Even if you don’t like Nader.

  1. but don’t much like McAuliffe, either.  It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

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