- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday applauded the NBA’s harsh punishment for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling but was less resolute when asked to compare the offensive remarks to the ongoing controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins.

“People should stop going to the games if this gentleman is in any way involved with it,” Mr. McAuliffe said of Mr. Sterling Wednesday on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program “The NBA did the right thing. … Let’s get him out of the league. Let’s get him out as an owner.”

The comments came a day after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Mr. Sterling from the league for life Tuesday and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum amount under league rules, after tapes emerged that featured racist remarks made by the team owner. Three-quarters of the league’s owners would have to vote to strip Mr. Sterling of his ownership of the team in order to force him to sell his interest — a move Virginia’s Democratic governor endorsed.

“Once again — zero tolerance,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “He shouldn’t be involved in the NBA. Absolutely should not be involved. And I’d say he shouldn’t be involved in most things if you have that kind of attitude.”

But when the conversation shifted to the Washington Redskins nickname, which some people have decried as racist or offensive, Mr. McAuliffe said it wasn’t his place to weigh in.

“I don’t believe that the governors ought to be telling private businesses in your state what they should do,” he said. “Owners need to make up their own decisions as it relates to their own respective entities that they run. That’s their responsibility, and you don’t want governors or other government officials telling people what to do with a private sector business.”

Mr. McAuliffe said Mr. Sterling has a history with issues involving racism and would not compare the situation to the calls for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of the football team, which is headquartered in Virginia.

“Mr. Snyder has to make his own decisions as it relates to the Washington Redskins, but I would not compare the two,” he continued, calling Mr. Sterling’s remarks “abhorrent” and noting that Mr. Sterling has a history and a pattern of making racist remarks and that he has been sued over allegations of discriminatory real estate practices.

“So there was a whole history here, and, as I say, zero tolerance,” Mr. McAuliffe said.