- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee is returning a $25,000 donation from a company with ties to Angola’s state-owned oil company after receiving questions from The Associated Press about whether the contribution was legal.

Officials at Common Good Va. initially believed the $25,000 donation on June 29 was legal. But nearly a month later, the PAC said it is returning the donation because officials at Glinn USA Investments are unwilling to certify that the contribution was legal under federal law, which prohibits campaigns at any level from accepting money from outside the U.S.

The move came after the AP questioned Glinn USA’s connections to Sonangol, the state-owned oil company of Angola.

“In our normal course of legal vetting, it became clear that Glinn USA was not able to certify the contribution complied with state and federal law,” said McAuliffe’s PAC director, Brian Zuzenak. “Out of an abundance of caution we have decided to refund the contribution. The PAC will continue to operate in accordance with Gov. McAuliffe’s commitment to transparency.”

However, an attorney for Glinn USA said the money was being returned only after his clients asked for it back. That request came after the company received a letter asking that the donation’s legality be certified.

“I talked to my client, and they said, ‘to hell with it,’” said Gary Dugger, the company’s registered agent. “They’re business people and they’re not interested in getting involved in political controversies.”

He added: “They made a good-faith contribution because they like the governor and his ideas.”

Dugger said that Glinn USA’s owner is another corporation but that he’s not at liberty to say which one. He said Glinn USA invests in “U.S. companies whose products and services appear to have growth potential” and that none of its officers, directors or shareholders have “any current connections to Sonangol.”

Glinn USA has no website, and its office location is unclear.

On McAuliffe’s latest campaign finance report, the company’s address is listed as an office building in Houston owned by Sonangol USA, according to city property records. Sonangol USA is a subsidiary of Sonangol.

On Wednesday, a security guard said Glinn USA had moved to a different building, the same building where Dugger’s law office is housed. Dugger is also the registered agent for Sonangol Offshore Services, which is listed as a Sonangol-related company on Sonangol USA’s website.

A sign at the front desk where Dugger’s office is located says “Sonangol Offshore Services” and “Dugger & Associates.” There’s no mention of Glinn USA in the building’s directory.

Dugger said his law office is the company’s registered address, but the company’s “operations office” is somewhere in Houston. He did not specify where.

Zuzenak said Laurence Humphries, a friend of McAuliffe who works at Chevron, was responsible for arranging the contribution.

Humphries declined to comment in an email message except to say that Chevron had nothing to do with the donation. Chevron has partnered with Sonangol on oil projects.

According to a database maintained by the watchdog group Public Citizen, Humphries was a sizeable fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. McAuliffe, a former national Democratic fundraiser, was chairman of that campaign.

Clinton came to Virginia in late June to help fundraise for McAuliffe and state Democrats. McAuliffe’s PAC is expected to be the main fundraising source for state Democrats as they try to retake the state Senate in legislative elections later this year.

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Associated Press writer Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.

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