Big Labor Investing Heavily in Terry McAuliffe

Six-figure donations from labor unions swell McAuliffe’s campaign coffers

Terry McAuliffe / AP
October 21, 2013

Labor groups are donating six-figure sums to Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe as the race draws to a close.

McAuliffe received a $100,000 donation from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on Friday, the latest in a series of donations from unions in his hotly contested race against Virginia's Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

The union has now contributed $343,530 to McAuliffe’s campaign this year.

McAuliffe, a prolific fundraiser known for his business connections and controversial ties to crony capitalism, has received more than $2.5 million from organized labor groups, according to state campaign filings, more than three times as much money as he received from unions during his 2009 attempt at Virginia’s governorship.

The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Republicans said that union support for the former Democratic National Committee chairman is indicative of where he stands on labor issues.

"Big Labor's unrelenting support of Terry McAuliffe is clear indication that he'll back their job-killing union agenda," Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins said in a statement. "While Ken Cuccinelli has spent his lifetime fighting for Virginians, Terry McAuliffe is deeply indebted to the union bosses bankrolling his campaign."

McAuliffe has avoided staking out his positions on union issues.

He refused to say whether he would work to repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law, which allows employees to opt out of unions, if he was elected governor. McAuliffe also refused to take a position on protecting secret ballot elections for unions in the 2009 race. He has also "declined comment" on whether he supports project labor agreements (PLAs), which favor unions in government contracts, though the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce claimed that he opposed mandatory PLAs while endorsing the candidate in September.

PLAs have proved costly for Virginia taxpayers in recent history. Despite its status as a right-to-work state, Virginia was bound by PLAs in the construction of the Silver Line metro rail project.

Former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine agreed to adopt union-level wages for the extensive project, causing costs to skyrocket. Local governments have struggled to deal with the high costs of the $6 billion project. Kaine was elected to the Senate in 2012.

McAuliffe has received numerous endorsements from union leaders in the state, many of which are concentrated, like AFSCME, in the public sector. Mike Moehler, president of Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, told the Washington Examiner in April that he trusted McAuliffe to "advance legislation to protect the health, safety and financial interest of our members" if the Democrat was elected.

McAuliffe holds a seven-point lead over Cuccinelli as the campaign draws to a close, according to Real Clear Politics. Virginians will take to the polls on Nov. 5.