There are two versions of Terry McAuliffe, old and new. Old Terry McAuliffe is a wheeler and dealer, fundraiser extraordinaire, political operative whose ability to capitalize on political connections for economic gain skirted close to the legal line. The new Terry McAuliffe we are supposed to believe is seeking "common ground for Virginia." He is no longer a partisan hack, but a statesman who will work with Republicans to achieve his policy goals. And let's not forget that ethics reform was one of the policy foundations of his campaign.
Which is why his appointment of Boyd Marcus to the ABC Board is so surprising. Not because a governor is seeking to reward a political supporter, but by doing so he is publicly highlighting that Old Terry is alive and kicking. Boyd Marcus is a longtime Republican operative who defected to Terry McAuliffe's campaign after his client, Bill Bolling, dropped out of the GOP gubernatorial nomination campaign and Ken Cuccinelli wouldn't pay Boyd's ransom to work for his campaign.
Appointing Marcus to the ABC Board has precedent. Governors of both parties have long appointed political allies to the ABC Board. And, as former chief of staff to Governor Jim Gilmore, Marcus has the experience to serve in the role. However, it is precisely because of the reputation of "Old Terry" that this appointment reeks of political patronage and everything that is wrong with politics. The citizens of Virginia have a right to know what promises were made when Marcus joined the governor's campaign.
There is no dispute that appointing Boyd Marcus raises the specter of a quid pro quo. He abandoned the party for which he long toiled for a $40,000 paycheck during the campaign and a plum position in the McAuliffe administration that will pay between $124,000-$136,000, or a cool $500,000 for four years. Good work if you can find it. Governor McAuliffe rejected the concerns of a quid pro quo by calling it "a little petty political whatever." That's exactly what it appears to be. A little petty political appointment that unfortunately signals business as usual for "Old Terry."
Less than 30 days into the office, our new governor is already showing remarkably poor judgment and partisan political stripes. It is already raising questions about his business as usual approach to governing. Such political patronage may be legal, but is certainly unseemly. The governor needs to be careful of creating the appearance of a quid pro quo, because if there is one thing we have learned in politics, it is that even the appearance of a quid pro quo is dangerous and can launch civil and criminal investigations. But then again, such investigations are not new to "Old Terry."
Because of "Old Terry's" history and "New Terry's" vocal championship of ethics reform, Governor McAuliffe should expect to be held to a higher ethical standard. He should go above and beyond ethical minimums to prove that his stripes have truly changed. To do anything less will require that every gubernatorial action be viewed through the lens of Old Terry.