Virginia gubernatorial debate drama centered around McAuliffe's ties to Clinton Foundation

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Drama is unfolding in the Old Dominion, and it’s taking center stage around the Virginia Bar Association’s (VBA) upcoming gubernatorial debate.

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, who is a former Virginia governor, has accepted the VBA’s invitation for the debate later this month while Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has yet to accept.

While the moderator of the debate has yet to be announced, it was reported by Breitbart on Tuesday that the moderator of the last two VBA debates — and the likely moderator of this year’s contest — Judy Woodruff donated $250 to the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Haiti Relief Fund” eleven years ago.

It could raise the issue of at least the appearance of a conflict of interest given that McAuliffe used to sit on the board. Still, the one-time Democratic National Committee chair took aim at his opponent’s debate status. 

“Glenn still won’t agree to participate in the VBA debate, a time-honored Virginia tradition. He will do anything to hide from his job killing record and his extreme agenda,” McAuliffe tweeted on Wednesday.

“It’s past time he stop dodging tough questions and agree to this debate, which is less than 3 weeks away,” he continued.

Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Youngkin’s campaign, said to Fox News in a Wednesday email that McAuliffe’s “dishonesty continues, and now it appears he is trying to sabotage our ongoing communications with the VBA.”

“We look forward to getting to a resolution soon,” she added.

McAuliffe’s campaign pointed Fox News to a Tuesday statement from the former governor claiming that Youngkin didn’t want to “face” him in the VBA debate “because he doesn’t want to answer questions about his record of sending jobs overseas, his threats to funding for public education, his extreme anti-abortion agenda or the fact that he is Donald Trump’s handpicked candidate.”

Youngkin said he wants to have three debates while McAuliffe has said he’ll do five.

The VBA told Fox News in a Wednesday statement that the organization has hosted statewide debates in Virginia for over 30 years, many moderated by Judy Woodruff.”

The group noted that past participants in VBA debates moderated by Ms. Woodruff include: 

  • 2018 – Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart
  • 2017 – Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam
  • 2014 – Ed Gillespie and Mark Warner
  • 2013 – Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli

“The VBA is not aware of any comments by past participants that the VBA debate or its moderators have been anything but fair and impartial,” the organization added.

The former Democratic governor was slammed online earlier this week after he suggested it’s easier for Americans to buy guns than vote.

“Call me crazy, but I think it should be easier to vote than it should be to buy a gun,” McAuliffe wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

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