Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is under pressure to disclose several attendees of a Washington Redskins luxury box party after a review of state records revealed that taxpayers would foot the $2,435 food and drink bill for the gathering.
McAuliffe has refused to release the names of 13 of the 15 luxury box guests despite inquiries, which an ethics watchdog said Thursday "raises serious red flags" about possible ethics violations. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), the ethics group, demanded McAuliffe releasee the names of the attendees immediately.
"Gov. McAuliffe’s stonewalling raises serious red flags, especially in the commonwealth of Virginia with its recent history of corruption in the governor’s mansion and McAuliffe’s own ethical lapses over the years as Hillary Clinton’s top moneyman," former U.S. attorney Matthew Whitaker, who serves as executive director for FACT, said in a statement.
"The governor needs to immediately disclose the names of these mystery guests so that Virginia taxpayers can be confident that the luxury box was used for its stated purpose: growing Virginia’s economy. If Governor McAuliffe is truly committed to ethics reform, he’ll release these names immediately. Openness and transparency are the best friends of clean and good government."
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that Virginia taxpayers would have to foot the $2,435 bill for McAuliffe’s luxury box gathering, which overlooked the Redskins’ January 10 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. The total cost broke down to $1,045 for hot dogs, chicken, and other food items; $656 for beer; and $198 for soda and water, according to state records.
While the event was set for economic development purposes, just four of the 15 guests at the football game represented businesses thinking about expanding into Virginia. A redacted list of attendees released by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in response to a public records request revealed the names of just two of the 15 guests present, both of which are members of McAuliffe’s administration.
One of those individuals, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, has been scrutinized for accepting a free ticket to the game.
McAuliffe’s spokesman Brian Coy said Wednesday that the refreshments were pre-ordered when the state was banking on a bigger group of business prospects. He did not dispute that some public officials may have consumed the offerings as private citizens and on taxpayers’ dime.
"To my knowledge, there was no audit of the guacamole or the hot dogs," Coy said.