Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Under FBI Investigation for Possible Campaign Violations | NBC4 Washington
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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Under FBI Investigation for Possible Campaign Violations

Investigators are especially interested in contributions from Wang Wenliang, a Chinese politician

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    Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is the subject of a federal investigation into whether he violated campaign finance laws.

    Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of a federal investigation into contributions to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign, according to a U.S. law enforcement official. 

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation. He said the investigation has been underway for some time and there was no indication it was close to concluding. CNN first reported the story Monday.

    Speaking after a public event in northern Virginia on Tuesday, McAuliffe said he knew nothing about the probe and was shocked to learn of it through news reports.

    "No one had reached out to us," McAuliffe said.

    The FBI is specifically looking at campaign donations from Chinese politician Wang Wenliang, federal officials told NBC News. Contributions from foreign nationals are prohibited.

    A spokesperson for Wang, however, said Wang is a permanent U.S. resident and that the contributions were legal.

    McAuliffe said Tuesday "there is no wrongdoing," citing Wang's status as a board member at New York University and his frequent donations to Harvard. He said the politician had been "fully vetted" by campaign lawyers.

    "They had some questions about a donor. My legal team fully vetted this individual. He's been a green card holder since 2007, so we're very confident," McAuliffe said.

    "I didn't bring the donor in," he added.

    Spokespeople at the FBI and Justice Department declined comment Monday. 

    McAuliffe's predecessor in the governor's mansion, Republican Bob McDonnell, was convicted on federal corruption charges but has appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Before winning his gubernatorial campaign in 2013 over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe made his name in national Democratic politics as a prolific, well-connected fundraiser with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

    Although McAuliffe is close to the Clintons, the official told AP that the investigation of McAuliffe is unconnected to a separate FBI investigation looking at the legality of private email servers that Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state. 

    Last year, McAuliffe's political action committee, Common Good Va., returned a $25,000 donation from a company with ties to Angola's state-owned oil company after The Associated Press raised questions about its legality. Federal law prohibits campaigns at any level from receiving money from outside the U.S. 

    McAuliffe's international business connections also came under scrutiny prior to his gubernatorial campaign. He served as chairman of GreenTech Automotive, a company that hoped to bring supercompact automobiles to the U.S. market. The company attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign investment, in part through a federal program that granted visas to investors who met certain job-creation thresholds. 

    McAuliffe resigned from the company in December 2012. GreenTech, which received millions of dollars in economic incentives from state and local officials to build a plant in Mississippi, faced criticism for falling well below expectations in production and job creation.