- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2016

The FBI and Justice Department reportedly are investigating whether Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe accepted illegal contributions during his 2013 campaign.

Citing officials who had been briefed on the investigation, CNN reported Monday that authorities over the past several months have looked into whether donations made to Mr. McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign violated the law.

Spokespeople from the Justice Department and the FBI’s Washington field office declined to comment Monday.

“As a matter of policy, the department generally neither confirms nor denies whether a matter is under investigation,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.

It was unclear what suspected violation triggered the investigation, but CNN reported that authorities apparently were interested in $120,000 worth of donations made to the McAuliffe campaign by Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang.

Mr. Wang has made sizable donations to the Clinton Foundation, run by former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. He pledged $2 million to the foundation in 2013 through his company Rilin Enterprises, according to CBS.

Records show that dozens of donors contributed to the foundation and to Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign, and federal officials reportedly are interested overlaps.

Investigators have not accused the foundation of breaking the law, according to CNN. Investigators are scrutinizing the time Mr. McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, spent as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

An attorney for the governor’s campaign said he could not confirm the CNN report and that Mr. McAuliffe has not been contacted by investigators about any inquiry.

“Neither the Governor nor his former campaign has knowledge of this matter, but as reported, contributions to the campaign from Mr. Wang were completely lawful,” attorney Marc Elias said in a statement.

Mr. Wang is a former delegate to China’s parliament. Rilin Enterprises is a construction conglomerate that builds Chinese embassies around the world and controls the Dandong Port in China, a strategic deep-water port near North Korea.

Foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to federal, state or local elections. Reports emerging Monday indicated that Mr. Wang has U.S. permanent resident status, which would make him eligible to donate to election campaigns.

The Rilin Enterprises website indicates that in addition to the Clinton Foundation, Mr. Wang has given contributions to other organizations and has helped establish academic exchange programs at New York University, Harvard University and the National University of Singapore.

A formal probe into the fundraising of Mr. McAuliffe would mark the second time in recent years that a Virginia governor has come under federal investigation.

Mr. McAuliffe succeeded Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican who along with his wife, Maureen, was convicted in 2014 in a public corruption case that involved the receipt of more than $170,000 in loans and gifts from a Virginia businessman.

The Republican Party of Virginia weighed in on the news Monday, noting that “the hits keep coming from the Democratic Party of Virginia and Terry McAuliffe.”

“For Virginia’s sake, hope there is nothing to it,” read a message from the party posted to social media.

Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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