Latest McAuliffe Aide Hired by Clinton Campaign Linked to Cash-for-Access Scheme

PAC offered face-time with governor to top donors

Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Clinton
Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Clinton / AP
April 1, 2015

The most recent operative of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) to join Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was at the helm of a political action committee that offered access to McAuliffe in exchange for cash.

Michael Halle, a top McAuliffe aide who worked as executive director of the Common Good VA PAC, will join Clinton’s Iowa team and is expected to serve in a senior role in the campaign’s political department, according to a report from the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin.

Halle was in Iowa for the 2008 campaign, but was working for the Obama team that defeated Clinton. He also worked on the Obama campaign in 2012.

Halle then managed field operations for McAuliffe’s successful 2013 gubernatorial campaign, working under campaign manager Robby Mook, who is slated to be Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager.

Following the 2013 campaign in Virginia, Halle became executive director of Common Good VA PAC, which came under fire for offering access to McAuliffe, his wife, and policy experts in exchange for large contributions.

A solicitation circulated by the PAC promised that a $100,000 contribution would get the donor the opportunity to "have a private dinner with the governor and first lady, sit down at a roundtable discussion with the governor, and have monthly meetings with policy experts," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Donations totaling between $10,000 and $100,000 would have earned a donor different amounts of face time.

McAuliffe disavowed the offer made by Halle’s PAC, saying that he never approved it.

"They put out a piece of paper I had never seen or approved," said McAuliffe, who added that he was "not going to do what they said."

McAuliffe blamed the botched fundraising appeal on "eager beavers" on the PAC’s staff.

Halle initially defended the solicitation, saying that it was "nothing out of the ordinary," but shifted his rhetoric after McAuliffe weighed in.

"The PAC is a new entity and the document was sent without approval from the governor," Halle said. "Common Good PAC will continue to raise money, but not in accordance with the document that was previously reported on."

The controversy came at an especially awkward time, as McAuliffe’s predecessor as governor, Bob McDonnell, was then fighting federal corruption charges.