WASHINGTON -- I see that my chum Terry McAuliffe will be in Virginia's June 9 Democratic primary competing for his party's gubernatorial nomination. He is up against two party stalwarts, Brian Moran and R. Creigh Deeds. Already his supporters are huffing and puffing about any unfavorable treatment he gets in the press. Just the other day, one of his (SET ITAL) indignados (END ITAL) appeared in the correspondence page of The Washington Post complaining that the newspaper had printed a news story detailing the dubious methods by which my old pal amassed his fortune. The story also noted McAuliffe's propensity for exaggeration.
Frankly, there was nothing particularly surprising or controversial in the story. All the Post did was report well-known highlights of McAuliffe's celebrated career. For years, his friend Hillary Clinton has been chided for her "cattle futures deal," the one that saw her investment of $1,000 metastasize into nearly $100,000 in but 10 months. That is nothing compared with McAuliffe's magic touch.
As the Post reported, he entered into a deal with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' pension fund in the early 1990s. The fund put in about $40 million. McAuliffe put in just $100. Several years later, he who would be governor of Virginia walked off with a profit of nearly $40 million, which was actually more than the union's profit. Good show, Terry! Then there is his famous investment in the now-defunct Global Crossing, which was run by his friend Gary Winnick. He who would be governor of Virginia invested $100,000 and walked off with a cool $8 million just before his friend's jerry-built conglomeration went belly up.
In its report, the Post chided McAuliffe for his tendency to exaggerate. It pointed to his claim that a construction company controlled by him constructed 1,300 homes, a claim that had to be scaled back to "closer to 800" homes after the newspaper apparently contacted the company. As for McAuliffe's boast that he started five businesses in Virginia, creating jobs for large numbers of Virginians, the Post reported, "It turned out that all five are investment partnerships, with no employees, registered to his home address in McLean," a posh Virginia suburb of Washington.
The only uncharitable reference to McAuliffe that I saw in the Post piece was its reference to him as a "huckster." Yet that is precisely what McAuliffe calls himself in his bizarre memoirs, "What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals." The Post merely was quoting him. It is a surprising quote, but McAuliffe's identification of himself as a huckster is one of the book's rare accurate statements.