An election watchdog group is asking for an investigation into Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe over what it says are serious campaign finance violations.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the National Legal and Policy Center has asked the Federal Election Commission to “promptly” look into whether McAuliffe violated federal law when he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from a US. subsidiary of a foreign-owned company.
The Democrat in July reportedly received $350,000 from a New Jersey company called LycaTel, a subsidiary of an international corporation based in the U.K.
LycaTel is owned by a Sri Lankan and British national named Allirajah Subaskaran.
“Terry McAuliffe has a history of accepting foreign contributions. The FEC must fully investigate these serious charges that he accepted $350,000 in illegal foreign contributions for his current campaign,” NLPC lawyer Paul Kamenar said.
While a U.S.-based subsidiary can donate money to candidates, concerns arise when an international parent company could benefit from the election of a particular candidate.
“This is effectively a really easy way to launder foreign money into the U.S. political process and to avoid the FEC prohibition on foreign nationals making contributions in U.S. elections,” said Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy.
LycaTel’s July donation was its first to any campaign in Virginia, according to the Free Beacon.
The company also reportedly hired a lobbyist named Robert Thompson to work for it on “telecom issues” and “business expansion” in the U.S.
Thompson was previously a lobbyist for the Sri Lankan government, meaning he officially went to bat for Subaskaran’s home country. Thompson is registered as a foreign agent.
The Free Beacon reported that LycaTel was the subject of a money-laundering probe related to business practices in France.
The NLPC filed an official complaint accusing McAuliffe of accepting two donations from the company totaling $350,000. The complaint characterized LycaTel as a “shell company.”
It also claimed that in 2016, the FBI launched an investigation into a $120,000 donation McAuliffe received from a Chinese businessman with ties to the Chinese government.
McAuliffe’s campaign has not publicly responded to the complaint.
The former Virginia governor will face Republican Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday in a race that has flipped in recent weeks.
McAuliffe led Youngkin 51 to 46 percent just two weeks ago, according to a Fox News. This week, a new poll showed Youngkin had taken an 8-point lead. The poll was conducted from Sunday to Wednesday among 1,212 likely Virginia voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
The tight race might also signal some political headwinds for Democrats before the 2022 midterm elections.
President Joe Biden won the state by ten points in 2020. He was in Virginia this week campaigning for the embattled McAuliffe.
On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris stumped for McAuliffe in Norfolk, The Hill reported.