Terry McAuliffe is going after Glenn Youngkin's reputation by evoking Taylor Swift as the men face off to become Virginia's next governor.
Social media ads launched this month by McAuliffe's campaign read: "Did you know that Republican candidate for Governor, Glenn Youngkin, helped buy Taylor Swift’s masters out from under her when he was co-CEO of Carlyle Group?"
So what's Youngkin's connection to Swift's master recordings?
Swift claims the firm Youngkin worked for as co-CEO, The Carlyle Group, played a crucial role in robbing her rights to years' worth of her own music, controlling when and where she can perform or play it.
Youngkin's spokesperson told News4 in an email: “Terry McAuliffe has reached the stage of desperation in his campaign where he’s rolling out the most baseless attacks to see what sticks. It’s a pathetic fall that could only be achieved by a 43-year political hack.”
Swift recorded her first six albums with Big Machine Records. The CEO of Big Machine, Scott Borchetta, sold the label to media investor and manager Scooter Braun. Swift's master recordings were part of the deal.
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In 2019, Swift said The Carlyle Group put up money for the sale of her master recordings.
What Is Glenn Youngkin’s Connection to Taylor Swift’s Masters?
Here’s how Taylor Swift’s masters have changed ownership over the years. Swift claims the firm Youngkin worked for as co-CEO, The Carlyle Group, played a crucial role in robbing her rights to years’ worth of her own music, controlling when and where she can perform or play it.
Credit: Andrew Williams/NBC
"I am especially asking for help from the Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men," Swift wrote in a post.
At the time, Swift asked The Carlyle Group for help because she said Borchetta and Braun refused to allow her to perform a medley of her hits at the American Music Awards. She also said the men refused to permit use of her music in her Netflix documentary.
"I just want to be able to perform MY OWN MUSIC. That's it," she continued.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in, siding with Swift.
Former Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was in the presidential race at the time, also took the opportunity to attack private equity firms such as The Carlyle Group.
Swift was vocal on social media about her opposition to the initial sale of her master recordings.
"I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years," Swift said in a Tumblr post.
"Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it," she continued.
In an interview with Variety this year, Braun said: "I regret and it makes me sad that Taylor had that reaction to the deal. All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual. I don't know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused."
"I offered to sell her the catalog back and went under NDA, but her team refused. It all seems very unfortunate. Open communication is important and can lead to understanding," he added.
Swift has said that Braun never offered her team a price to buy her master recordings.
"The master recordings were not for sale to me," she said in a post in 2020.
Swift is in the process of re-recording and re-releasing her albums to earn new rights to her music. She has already re-released her Grammy Award-winning album "Fearless" and is set to do the same with "Red" next month.
Youngkin worked for The Carlyle Group for 25 years and left the company in 2020 to run for office. His net worth is estimated at more than $300 million.
He argues his corporate experience enables him to lead as governor of Virginia.
News4 reached out to The Carlyle Group about Youngkin's involvement in Swift's master recordings but did not receive a response.