DOJ Investigates McAuliffe Over Donation From Chinese Clinton Foundation Donor

Donor company has close ties to Chinese government

Terry McAuliffe
Terry McAuliffe / AP
May 23, 2016

The company of a Chinese businessman involved in a federal investigation into Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe pledged $2 million to the Clinton Foundation the same year that it wrote a six-figure check to McAuliffe’s campaign.

CNN reported on Monday that an ongoing Department of Justice corruption probe targeting McAuliffe is examining his tenure on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative, a foundation offshoot.

The FBI is reportedly examining whether donations to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign were illegal.

Among the donations being examined are $120,000 in contributions to the campaign and McAuliffe’s inaugural committee from West Legend Corp., an affiliate of a Chinese company owned by billionaire Wang Wenliang, a former delegate to China's legislative body, the National People's Congress.

"We admire and applaud Governor McAuliffe for his leadership in promoting trade, economic growth, and job creation," West Legend said in a statement at the time.

Marc Elias, the governor’s attorney and the general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, told CNN that McAuliffe "will certainly cooperate with the government if he is contacted about it."

West Legend is a New Jersey-based affiliate of Rilin Enterprises, a Chinese company that in 2013 pledged to donate $2 million to the Clinton Foundation. The foundation’s website says Rilin has given between $1 million and $5 million.

McAuliffe came under scrutiny during his gubernatorial run after it was revealed that Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham had used an investment firm he ran to funnel money from a controversial U.S. visa program into McAuliffe’s electric car company.

Then-Secretary of State Clinton ran the agency charged with overseeing the visa program, which benefited investors in U.S. companies.

The Clinton Foundation has faced scrutiny of its own for accepting large checks from foreign governments, individuals, and corporations with business before the U.S. government. The foundation is not being investigated as part of the McAuliffe probe, CNN reported.

Rilin owns a large port near the Chinese border with North Korea. The division of Wenliang’s business empire handling that project retains a roster of high-powered Washington lobbyists with the firm McGuireWoods.

Disclosure forms show that the Dandong Port Co. has paid McGuireWoods more than $1.4 million since 2012 to lobby Congress and the State Department.

McGuireWoods’ political action committee has hosted a Clinton campaign fundraiser. One of its lobbyists, who has worked on the Rilin account, has also donated to the Clinton Foundation.

In addition to its business activities in China, Rilin won the contract to build the Chinese embassy in Washington, a task that involves sensitive security matters, according to Chinese policy expert Jim Mann.

"One of the most important tasks [in embassy construction] is making sure that there are no bugs there," Mann told CBS News. "So you want to have the closest security and intelligence connections with and approval of the person or company that's going to build your embassy."