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Both major party gubernatorial candidates have received most of their campaign money from outside the state.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Perhaps it makes sense that outsiders have largely taken over funding for Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign this year.
Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer can donate $674,000 through his NexGen Climate Action Committee to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign knowing he can still watch “Dancing with the Stars” from the comfort of his San Francisco living room and not have his intelligence assaulted by poisonous attack ads he helped to underwrite.
Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein can stroke $150,000 in checks to Republican Ken Cuccinelli without fear that he’ll have to dig through fib-infested campaign brochures in the mailbox in search of his electric bill.
Both major party gubernatorial candidates have received a majority of their money from out-of-state individuals, political organizations, interest groups and corporations, according to an analysis of data collected by the Virginia Public Access Project.
McAuliffe took in a total of $17 million through September, or 72 percent of his itemized donations, from outside the commonwealth.
Cuccinelli has attracted $9 million, or 65 percent of his support, from elsewhere, according to VPAP data.
Most of the currency flows in from predictable sources, and often has an affiliation with state entities.
McAuliffe, a former fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, has collected $1.1 million from New York-based Planned Parenthood Votes and $491,000 from the Service Employees International Union.
Cuccinelli received $140,000 from Pennsylvania-based Consol Energy, involved in a dispute with Southwest Virginia landowners over natural gas royalties.
His clout with conservative donors helped him snag $50,000 from billionaire energy executive David Koch plus $37,500 from his company.
Of course, negative political ads are no less shabby when purchased with dollars from one’s next door neighbor or a homegrown business.
But in this year of scandal, the continued influx of money from remote locations and the growing dominance of those dollars raises concerns because it can be harder to ascertain what favors the giver might intend to coerce later.
Some Virginians and their businesses may also be tempted to seek favored treatment, but they all live and operate here in the commonwealth, and most care deeply about the state’s economy, its schools, colleges and highways.
Will the next governor give those matters his highest priority? Or will pressures from farflung mansions and high-rise offices be a distraction?
Those are questions Virginians should keep in mind for the next four years, no matter who is the victor.
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