Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor of Virginia took a turn to the absurd last week when a television commercial aired by an environmental group in favor of his candidacy featured video footage of an FBI raid on the offices of one of his friends and former donors. The donor in question, Dr. Salomon Melgen, contributed $10,000 to McAuliffe’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign for governor. Melgen, a native of the Dominican Republican, is mired in the numerous controversies involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
The ad, paid for by the environmental group NextGen Climate Change Action Committee, features actual footage of a 2013 FBI raid on the Florida offices of Dr. Melgen’s Vitreo-Retinal Consultants. According to the FBI, the raid was undertaken to secure documents related to an internal investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services alleging that Dr. Melgen may have overbilled Medicare several million dollars for medical procedures.
The more salacious charges in the Melgen-Menendez scandals involve allegations that both men attended parties also attended by prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. In addition, there are allegations that Menendez used his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to force the State Department to adopt policies that supported his friend Melgen’s questionable port security contract with the government of the Dominican Republic.
The ‘Keystone Cops’ nature of this embarrassing turn of events for McAuliffe highlights a major concern Virginia voters ought to have about his candidacy. Several scandals this summer surround investigations of events that took place at organizations during the time McAuliffe headed them–the Securities and Exchange investigation of stock offerings at GreenTech Automotive, the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation of the granting of visas to Chinese investors in GreenTech Automotive, and most recently the Department of Justice investigation that revealed possible illegal campaign expenditures during the 2008 Hillary Clinton for President campaign.
This new commercial designed to boost McAuliffe’s candidacy instead reminds voters of his connection to a high profile beneficiary of crony capitalism and risks increasing his already high negatives less than two months before the election.