mcglothlinBy Peter Galuszka

The McDonnell GiftGate scandal and issues about the disclosure of money and gifts to Virginia politicians has only become more intense.

The Washington Post reported today that Maureen McDonnell, wife of the governor, accepted $36,000 as a paid consultant last year while her husband listed her work as that of a trustee of a philanthropic foundation run by a coal baron.

The Post says that, in fact, Ms. McDonnell was paid as a consultant by the United Company, a coal and real estate firm in Bristol, rather than for the Frances G. and James W. McGlothlin Foundation as her husband reported in state filings.

In doing so, the Post says, “the governor never had to say on his disclosure form how much she was paid.” Spouses of elected officials must report incomes more than $10,000.

First off, the news ratchets up the tension on McDonnell, who did not disclose payments of $15,000 for a wedding meal for his daughter from another firm, Star Scientific, among other benefits. The FBI and the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney are investigating.

The new twist includes a new player, James W. McGlothlin, a conservative multi-millionaire who is one of the state’s and Richmond’s biggest philanthropists. A Southwest Virginia native, McGlothlin made lots of money mining and selling metallurgical coal of which his birthplace and surrounding areas have rich reserves.

He started United Coal Co. in the 1970s and branched into other ventures such as golf courses and pharmaceuticals. He sold out for a while and then came back to run the firm which he sold in 2009 for about $1 billion to Ukraine’s Metinvest firm, owned by Rinat Akhmetov, said to be one of Europe’s richest individuals.

Along the way, McGlothlin racked up considerable wealth that he has given away. Perhaps his single largest donation was $100 million for an architecturally significant wing at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond along with a $70 million trove of   19th and 20th century artwork, including pieces by Mary Casatt and Winslow Homer. Through his foundation, McGlothlin has supported other good works, such as funding research at the medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University.

A staunch conservative, McGlothlin was a major player in a controversy involving the 2005 firing of Gene Nichol, the president of the College of William & Mary who had been deemed too liberal by critics. Nichol was blamed for changing how a Christian cross was displayed at a chapel and for supporting an art show by sex industry workers. McGlothlin, an alumnus of both W&M undergrad and law school, supposedly threatened to withhold a $12 million donation to the school over Nichol.

McGlothlin told the Post that Maureen McDonnell was paid by his firm and not his foundation although McDonnell reported on state disclosure filings also put out by the Virginia Public Access Project that she had been a “trustee” of the McGlothlin foundation. Apparently, the state’s First Lady made $36,000 — more than a beginning school teacher makes in a year — by spending a few days talking about philanthropy.

Two other points: Ms. McDonnell also had worked in some capacity for Star scientific boosting its dietary supplement products that got her husband in trouble.

Also, as I noted a few days ago, the non-partisan, non-profit VPAP, where many get their information about political giving in Virginia’s lax system, cannot be relied upon if inaccurate information is put into state disclosure filings made by politicians. VPAP is a service, and a good one, but it has no investigative role to vet the data it uses. It never had that mission and there is no state ethics commission to check into filings. That seems up to the news media and prosecutors who made or may not know if something is amiss.

The latest McDonnell disclosure only shows the weakness of the current system.

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17 responses to “McGlothlin’s GiftGate Connection”

  1. larryg Avatar

    If this is true, it’s pretty disgusting. What is all this crap the conservatives keep dishing out about crony capitalism?

    I wonder how either McDonnell or his wife have the chutzpa to appear in public… just disgusting…

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    This crap never ends in Virginia. There’s the oligopoly and the clown show. I’ve been saying that for years and everybody laughed.

    VPAP does the best they can but the oligopoly and the clown show bypass VPAP.

    Cuccinelli “forgets” gifts and stockholdings.
    McDonnell’s daughter gets the $15,000.
    Donor names get mismatched on wife-y’s money.
    Companies get tax breaks and then give jobs to the clowns who sponsored the tax break legislation.
    Practicing attorneys elect the judges who hear their cases.
    The SCC is exempt from the FOIA regulations.
    Campaign contributions are given to politicians who haven’t seen a competitive election in 20 years. They bundle the money and donate to other campaigns erasing any trail back to the original donor.
    The company most regulated by the state (Dominion) is the biggest corporate donor to the politicians who regulate it.

    Virginia is a sad, sad joke.

  3. larryg Avatar

    Were Kaine and Warner guilty of similar misdeeds?

    this is why I support recall of officials TMT.

    nothing is going to happen to these slimeballs…. right?

  4. Warner and Kaine actively supported federal and local funding for the Silver Line construction even though the project did NOT meet the federal cost-benefit guidelines for funding. That includes the grandfathered guidelines that Senator John Warner got through the Congress. Both Democrats were heavily funded by West Group and its executives. How much money did Gerry Halpin make when he sold his share of West Group to CityLine? Quid pro quo? Transfer of the DTR to MWAA for free?

    The corruption, in my view, is more systematic than political. In other words, I don’t see corruption as belonging to one party or the other. Virginia needs a major re-write of its election, campaign funding and openness in government laws.

    And don’t forget that much of press coverage on the current “scandal” is from the WaPo. Despite the Company’s stated policy of separation between the editorial board and the reporters, the wall comes down when it comes to Virginia politics. Source: WaPo reporters who have told me off the record that the editorial board puts pressure on reporters to say only good about Virginia Democrats and only bad about Virginia Republicans. Fred Hiatt and Lee Hockstader are scum-sucking dirt bags without ethics.

    1. larryg Avatar

      TMT – are you comparing apples to apples here?

      you could make similar claims about McDonnell and transportation but that’s a different thing than taking personal money…

      don’t you think?

  5. I have defended McDonnell before, but not this time. Listing his wife on his disclosure form as a McGlothlin Foundation “trustee” when she was not does not look like a careless oversight. It looks like a deliberate misrepresentation in order to avoid reporting the potentially embarrassing fact that Jim McGlothlin paid her $36,000 for a few days’ work. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation, but McDonnell had better come up with it quickly.

    On the other hand, this strikes me as “victimless corruption.” This in no way compares to the deals struck on the Rail-to-Dulles project that TMT alludes to. There, billions of taxpayer and toll road ratepayer dollars were at stake. If McGlothlin decides to pay $36,000 to Maureen McDonnell, it is definitely unseemly. She should have turned down the offer. But she didn’t offer to get McGlothlin any state money, regulatory breaks or legislative favors in return.

    I agree with TMT that the WaPo has a double standard — expending significant resources to run down the First Lady’s unseemly activities while overlooking the big-money politics behind the Silver Line. That double standard doesn’t excuse the McDonnells for playing fast and loose with their disclosure forms. But it does highlight the bias of the WaPo organization.

    1. larryg Avatar

      no – this is personal corruption…. this is different than the typical govt machinations that all administrations get involved in.

      I asked specifically if Kaine and Warner were guilty of taking similar money.

      It boggles my mind that ya’ll consider the two to be the same.

      McDonnell is not playing fast and lose with disclosure forms guy- he IS TAKING MONEY UNDER THE TABLE… a willingness to take money under the table. How much more? this is a pattern… not just one thing.

      this is how conservatives think? that money under the table directly to the Govt is the same as the “deals” on METRO that you have no evidence of at all – just your suspicions – but even then – no money from a company to the Gov..

      No wonder you guys have problems! you don’t recognize the difference!

      1. McDonnell is taking money under the table… for what?

        Show me what regulatory favors, legislative favors or subsidies McDonnell has bestowed upon McGlothlin. Show me the quid pro quo. There isn’t one. (Not yet. Who knows what might turn up?)

        Again, McDonnell’s failure to properly report these gifts is indefensible. I’m just asking to someone to explain the public harm.

    1. Let’s go back to the 1994 revision of the Tysons Comp Plan. It presumed the construction of three rail stations in Tysons – East Tysons near CapOne; Central Tysons between the two malls; and West Tysons, Route 7 and Spring Hill Road. Later, a 4th station was added as the locally preferred option. And that station was located at SAIC’s Route 7 campus. Who was SAIC’s VP for local government relations? Gerry Connolly. Who was chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors? Gerry Connolly. Did Mr. Connolly recuse himself from the vote? No. How much additional compensation did VP Connolly receive? Who knows? Was there any tie to funding his successful run for Congress? Who knows?

      SAIC recently sold the same campus to the Meridian Group for c. $225 million. How much more was the property worth because of the presence of the Silver Line station being paid for largely by DTR drivers? Who knows?

      Says Hiatt and Hockstader — “Move on. Nothing to see here folks.”

      Keep in mind that the new Comp Plan for Tysons permits unlimited density within 1/4 mile of a rail station, but retains the existing permitted density (say 2.0 FAR plus bonuses) for land farther than 1/4 mile. Bottom line, SAIC’s property is worth much, much more because it’s former VP was also Chairman of the Fairfax County BoS.

      One might argue the DTR drivers will get an easier drive because of commuters diverted to the Silver Line. Not so. The traffic studies submitted to VDOT by Fairfax Counties show that, even with the addition of as many as three to five more lanes on the DTR (presumably also paid for largely by DTR drivers), the DTR reaches the point of failure every evening.

      Then keep in mind Fairfax County DOT has had to revise the traffic studies because the BoS approved about 30% more density at the four stations than was modeled for submission to VDOT.

      Tysons and the Silver Line harken back to the days of Rockefeller, Carnegie and JP Morgan. But one would never know that from the MSM.

      1. larryg Avatar

        I’m agog here.

        was there money under the table ? Did Connolly take money from business interests for his personal use?

        how does this relate in the most remote way to McDonnell taking money from business interests for his personal use?

        how do you equate these even in the most remote way?

        If this is how we deal with what appears to be graph and corruption – i.e. we treat it as a partisan issue –

        we are doomed…..

        I’m disappointed TMT.

  6. larryg Avatar

    the “money” involved in the Silver Line is no different than a company giving money directly to the Gov and family?

    come on Bacon… you obviously know better than that!

    you guys are unbelievable!

  7. larryg Avatar

    It’s not only the act of receiving what can look like a bribe or graft, it’s the judgement that went into the decision to accept it and if that is an example of how such judgements are made – why should this person be in a position trust to serve citizens, to not be tempted by influence money.

    Do I want a Senator who thinks it’s okay to take money personally from others with businesses with interests the Senator deals with?

    that’s why I asked if Kaine or Warner were guilty of this – and I can tell you if they ever were – I’d be just as scathing in my view.

    It’s bad enough to have to take money for campaigns – that gets too close to the line in my view but to be taking money from a business interest for your personal use while you are in elective office – in my book – that is beyond the pale and shows a level of cynicism that precludes him from holding elective office.

    And the total irony of this – is it is coming from the party that keeps blathering about trust in govt.

    1. How much more was Jerry Halpin able to sell West Group for because of the presence of the Silver Line? The McLean Tysons station fronts former West Group property on part of both sides of Route 123. How much money did Halpin and his cohorts contribute to Warner’s and Kaine’s campaigns?

      Again keep in mind that the Silver Line could not pass even the grandfathered cost-benefit test used by US DOT. Now the Ds weren’t the only ones lobbying US DOT and the Bush White House for Silver Line funding, but Warner and Kaine (then Governor) played a big part in getting the federal government to ignore Congress’s standards.

  8. construction 101 Avatar
    construction 101

    I find this scandal amazing. This Governor and his Republican cronies blasted MWAA for ethics for going on approved budgeted airport trips, dinners while he was accepting gifts of $15,000 for his daughters wedding and now his wife getting a payday as well. Are you kidding me? This guy is dirty and needs to be shown the door. The AG is no better when he says he did not understand the gift disclosure rules. He is the AG!!! He does not understand the rules. Are you kidding me? Now he wants to be the Governor. We can do better people. Send a message this November and show these people the door. This is why we all hate politics. These guys are all dirty and hide behide the titles they carry. I hate the sense of entitlement that both of these guys have shown. The FBI needs to wrap up the investigation and file some charges. How can we have any faith in our political system when these lawmakers violate the law everyday without consequenses?

    1. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I have to agree with you on this one, Construction 101. McDonnell does look like a hypocrite here.

  9. larryg Avatar

    re: ” McDonnell is taking money under the table… for what?”

    you’re not troubled by the act itself regardless of what for?

    come on Jim Bacon… do you want elected officials taking personal money from business interests regardless of the reasons?

    do you think there are some good reasons for them to take the money?

    I think we got some weaselin goin on here…

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