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McAuliffe’s SuperPAC Donations Raise Eyebrows

(CN) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chair, donated nearly a half million dollars to the senate campaign of the wife of an FBI official who later spearheaded the probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Campaign finance reports released over the weekend revealed a $467,500 donation to Dr. Jill McCabe's 2015 Senate campaign by the governor's SuperPAC, Common Good VA.

Gov. McAuliffe also gave $207,788 to McCabe's campaign via mailers, the report showed. The total donations McCabe received by McAuliffe's PAC amounted to more than a third of all campaign funds raised. McCabe later lost the race to incumbent Republican Dick Black.

McAuliffe has long been a friend and confidante of the Clinton family.

He was co-chair of President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, and in 2008, he served as Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman during her first run for the White House.

Though donations by SuperPACs are the norm in today's politics, the timing and nature of McAuliffe's support of McCabe's campaign, against the backdrop of controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, is sure to fuel further skepticism about a campaign finance system already laden with ethical questions and criticisms.

McCabe launched her senate bid in March 2015, about the same time Clinton's reliance on a private email server was first coming to light.

The formal investigation of Clinton's server use and her handling of classified material that may have passed through it, did not begin until July 15, 2015.

But at the time, McCabe's husband, Andrew McCabe, managed the FBI's D.C. field office, which eventually leant resources and staff to conduct the probe.

By the end of July 2015, McCabe received a promotion, making him FBI Director James Comey's second-in-command.

A spokesman for the governor's office told The Wall Street Journal that McAuliffe "supported Jill McCabe because he believed she would be a good state senator."

The spokesman also said there was nothing at all unusual or untoward about the SuperPAC donations.

"Any insinuation that his support was tied to anything other than his desire to elect candidates who would help pass his agenda is ridiculous," he said.

The FBI also disabuse any suggestion of a possible conflict of interest in its own statement.

"[Mr. McCabe] played no role, attended no events and did not participate in fundraising or support of any kind," the statement said. "Months after the completion of [his wife's] campaign, then associate deputy director McCabe was promoted to deputy where in that position, he assumed for the first time, an oversight role into Secretary Clinton's emails."

FBI officials also said that McCabe's husband came to the bureau for ethics advice on how he should handle his wife's run for senate and his role at the agency.

But that doesn't mean the FBI has no interest in McAuliffe's political giving.

The governor remains under investigation for donations he made on behalf of Wang Wenliang, the Chinese construction company billionaire.

McAuliffe has denied accusations of wrongdoing in the investigation, which is looking at whether the governor violated a law mandating that that individuals or entities register as agents of a foreign entity when applicable.

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