Update 1:50 P.M.: McAuliffe told reporters Thursday that he canceled his plans to attend the Strickland fundraiser so as not to be a "distraction," the Washington Post reported.
"I told Ted he needs to focus on his race, and I told him we’ll reschedule in a month or two," McAuliffe stated. "I got plenty of time to campaign for him in the fall," he said later.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) will no longer appear next week at a planned fundraiser for Ted Strickland, the Democrat running to unseat Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio).
A Strickland campaign spokesman disclosed that McAuliffe would no longer appear at the June 2 fundraiser, according to the Columbus Dispatch. McAuliffe has been under intense scrutiny in recent days after news broke of a federal probe into potentially illegal campaign contributions.
"Governor McAuliffe will no longer be attending this event," David Bergstein, the spokesman, told the Dispatch.
McAuliffe, who was elected governor of Virginia in 2013, faces an ongoing investigation from the FBI and the Justice Department’s public integrity unit focused partially on whether or not donations to his campaign for governor violated the law, CNN first reported this week.
Investigators are looking at $120,000 in contributions made by a U.S. company owned by Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang, who formerly served as a delegate to the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body. Foreign nationals are barred by law from contributing to U.S. elections.
Investigators are also examining McAuliffe’s time on the board of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, to which Rilin Enterprises, a Chinese company owned by Wang, has contributed between $1 and $5 million.
McAuliffe, who first described himself as "shocked" by the probe, has defended himself and knocked the FBI and Justice Department for "leaking" it. The investigation has been active since at least 2015.
The fundraiser for Strickland, a former governor of Ohio and congressman, will be hosted by former Ohio House Rep. John Patrick Carney and will take place in Clintonville.
A spokeswoman for the Portman campaign pointed to Strickland’s record voting against revoking "Most Favored Nation" status for China during his years in Congress in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
"Not only did Ted Strickland refuse to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices and give a $4 million taxpayer-funded loan to a now-bankrupt company with a Chinese factory, Ted’s now been forced to cancel a fundraiser with a governor under FBI investigation for his ties to a Chinese company," spokeswoman Michawn Rich said.
"It’s clear Ted Strickland is willing to do or say anything to raise money for his failing campaign—until the public finds out about it."
Strickland, who has struggled to keep up with Portman in fundraising, has looked to Vice President Joe Biden and Washington, D.C., influencers in order to raise funds for his campaign. Still, Portman has five times the cash on hand of his competitor, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings.