Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Mississippi electric car company, GreenTech, is set to start his gubernatorial career this Saturday in Virginia. After past experience seeking state business incentives and finding them in Mississippi, he is about to experience the other side of the coin—being lobbied by special interests.
McAuliffe already has a good lineup of potential favor seekers, thanks to his political contributors. Watchdog.org reports,
“While the vast majority of McAuliffe’s campaign cash came from out-of-state players doing all they could to make the former chair of the Democratic National Committee a governor in a key purple state, McAuliffe’s inaugural dough is coming from local big businesses with powerful influence over public policy.
The committee’s top givers include Altria, the Richmond-headquartered tobacco company at $50,000; the Richmond-headquartered Dominion Power, the state’s largest power company, at $50,000; and Verizon’s Richmond offices at $50,000. They’re all consistent contributors to both political parties with strong lobbying pull at the Capitol.”
Unfortunately, this makes a great setup for cronyism, or the use of government connections to get legal favors for a special interest group. On one side, it’s natural for industries to want to curry favor with lawmakers who can potentially make or break them. It’s also natural that officials might open their ears wider to those that support them. It does not follow that it’s naturally good for the state, even if done in the name of economic growth and job creation.
It might be interesting to watch how McAuliffe’s campaign relationships play out in the Virginia Legislature. Will it affect the course of the session? Will it result in the best use of public money? Or will it distort the system to favor some over others?
>>Source: Watson, Kathryn. “Big businesses with power to influence policy back McAuliffe’s inauguration party.” Watchdog.org. 3 Jan. 2014.