Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife
Devlin Barrett, WSJ, Oct 23 2016
The political organization of Virginia Gov Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500k to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the FBI who later helped oversee the investigation into Clinton’s email use. Campaign finance records show McAuliffe’s PAC donated $467.5k to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr Jill McCabe, who is married to Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI. The Virginia Democrat Party, over which McAuliffe exerts considerable control, donated an additional $207,788 worth of support to Dr McCabe’s campaign in the form of mailers, according to the records. That adds up to slightly more than $675k to her candidacy from entities either directly under McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him. The figure represents more than a third of all the campaign funds Dr McCabe raised in the effort. McAuliffe and other state party leaders recruited Dr McCabe to run, according to party officials. She lost the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. A spox said:
Mr McAuliffe supported Jill McCabe because he believed she would be a good state senator. This is a customary practice for Virginia governors… Any insinuation that his support was tied to anything other than his desire to elect candidates who would help pass his agenda is ridiculous.
Among political candidates that year, Dr McCabe was the third largest recipient of funds from Common Good VA, the governor’s PAC, according to campaign finance records. Dan Gecker received $781.5k from the PAC and $214,456 from the state party for a campaign that raised $2.9m, according to records; and Jeremy McPike received $803.5k from the PAC and $535,162 from the state party, raising more $3.8m that year for his candidacy. The governor could recall only one meeting with McCabe, when he and other state Democrats met with the couple on Mar 7 2015, to urge Dr McCabe to run, according to the spokesman. The FBI said in a statement:
During his wife’s campaign, Mr McCabe played no role, attended no events, and did not participate in fund-raising or support of any kind. Months after the completion of her campaign, then-Associate Deputy Director McCabe was promoted to Deputy, where in that position, he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Sec Clinton’s emails.
FBI boxtops said that after that meeting with the governor in Richmond on Mar 7, McCabe sought ethics advice from the bureau and followed it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia and avoiding any campaign activity or events. McCabe’s supervision of the Clinton email case in 2016 wasn’t seen as a conflict or an ethics issue, because his wife’s campaign was over by then and McAuliffe wasn’t part of the email probe, said the boxtops. Dr McCabe said:
Once I decided to run, my husband had no formal role in my campaign other than to be a supportive husband to me and our children. As a federal official…everyone who participated in our campaign understood and respected that he could not participate.”
McCabe is a longtime FBI official who focused much of his career on terrorism. His wife is a hospital physician who campaigned in northern Virginia, where the couple live with their children. The 2015 Virginia State senate race was Dr McCabe’s first run for office and her campaign spent $1.8m. The race was part of McAuliffe’s failed effort to win a Democrat majority in the Virginia legislature, which would have given him significantly more sway in Richmond, the state capital. McAuliffe has been a central figure in the Clintons’ political careers for decades. In the 1990s he was Bill Clinton’s chief fund-raiser, and he remains one of the couple’s closest allies and public boosters. Clinton appeared with him in northern Virginia in 2015 as he sought to increase the number of Democrats in the state legislature. Dr McCabe announced her candidacy in Mar 2015, the same month it was revealed that Clinton had used a private server as Sec State to send and receive government emails, a disclosure that prompted the FBI investigation. At the time the investigation was launched in Jul 2015, McCabe was running the FBI’s Washington field office, which provided personnel and resources to the Clinton email probe. That investigation examined whether Clinton’s use of private email may have compromised national security by transmitting classified information in an insecure system. A review of Clinton’s emails concluded that 110 messages contained classified information. Clinton has said she made a mistake but that she never sent or received messages that were marked classified.
At the end of Jul 2015, McCabe was promoted to FBI headquarters and assumed the #3 position at the agency. In Feb 2016, he became FBI Director Comey’s second-in-command. As deputy director, McCabe was part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions on that probe were made by Comey, who served as a high-ranking DoJ in the Bush 43 administration. McAuliffe has been under investigation for months by the FBI’s Washington field office, a probe that includes an examination of donations made on behalf of a Chinese businessman, according to people familiar with the matter. His lawyers have denied any wrongdoing and said the investigation is seeking to determine if McAuliffe may have violated a law requiring people to register as agents of a foreign entity. It was unclear the extent to which McCabe may have recused himself from discussions involving McAuliffe. When McCabe’s wife began her campaign, he shied away from involvement in Virginia public corruption cases, according to officials. Once the campaign was over, officials said, McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended.