RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans called for an investigation Thursday into Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's appointment of a longtime GOP operative to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board, a request that was swiftly turned down by the attorney general.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins said it "certainly appears" that McAuliffe "sold an office of the Commonwealth in exchange for an endorsement."
A longtime top Republican aide, Boyd Marcus shocked political watchers last year by endorsing McAuliffe and working on his campaign.
Mullins' request comes a few days after The Associated Press first reported that Marcus was paid $140,000 for campaign consulting work. His consulting firm was paid both by the McAuliffe campaign and by a super PAC controlled by the Democratic Governors Association, campaign finance records show.
Marcus' new position as chairman of the ABC board pays $130,000 a year. He has not responded to requests for comment.
In a letter to Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, Mullins said he sees a possible quid pro quo that should be investigated.
"The quid — Governor McAuliffe's receipt of an endorsement that had a significant impact on the election — and the quo — Boyd Marcus' appointment to a high-paying state job — are both present," said Mullins.
McAuliffe has rejected any suggestion that Marcus' endorsement and appointment are improperly linked. The new governor has said that Marcus is well qualified for the position.
The General Assembly will have to vote on whether to confirm Marcus to the ABC board, and Republican lawmakers have indicated that his selection may be in jeopardy. ABC board appointments are widely viewed as one of the more cushy political appointments available to governors.
Marcus had previously worked for several high-profile Republicans, including former Gov. Jim Gilmore and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
A spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring says his office isn't aware of any information that would warrant an investigation proposed by Mullins.