Policy: Environment & Energy

Ad criticizing Ken Cuccinelli shows pic of FBI raid into business owned by Terry McAuliffe pal

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An environmental group aiding Democrat Terry McAuliffe's Virginia gubernatorial bid is airing an ad critical of Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli. But in one of the race's bigger "egg on the face" moments, the commercial shows an FBI raid into a business owned by one of McAuliffe's friends.

The ad, purchased by NextGen Climate Change Action Committee, highlights the attorney general's role in a land dispute and his relationship to a company at the heart of a state scandal. The 30-second spot notes that Cuccinelli has spoken to the FBI about his friendship with Jonnie Williams, a Virginia businessman whose ties to Gov. Bob McDonnell are the subject of a federal probe. Displayed in the background is a picture of a FBI raid.

The Image is not only an exaggeration of what occurred, but it's not even from Virginia. It's actually footage of a FBI raid of Vitreo-Retinal Consultants Eye Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org. The company's logo can be seen in the background.

It gets more interesting.

Vitreo-Retinal Consultants (now called Melgen Retina Eye Center) is owned by Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Democratic donor. What FactCheck.org doesn't note is that he also is a friend of McAuliffe. The two have played golf together, and Melgen donated $10,000 to McAuliffe's 2009 gubernatorial campaign.

Melgen's office was raided earlier this year after accusations arose that he supplied Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., trips to the Dominican Republic and underage prostitutes. Those rumors turned out to be unfounded.

A message left at a phone number on NextGen Climate Change Action Committee's website was not immediately returned. NextGen is an organization started by Tom Steyer, a billionaire and environmental activist who has already poured about $900,000 into the Virginia gubernatorial race to defeat Cuccinelli.

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