Va. GOP leader urges feds to probe appointment

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Local,Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Republican Party chairman on Monday urged federal prosecutors to investigate Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's appointment of a longtime GOP operative to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

The chairman, Pat Mullins, noted that federal prosecutors are pursuing corruption charges against former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and suggested any failure to also investigate McAuliffe's actions would suggest a politically tinged double standard.

Boyd Marcus stunned political watchers last year by endorsing McAuliffe and working for his campaign. Marcus had previously worked for several high-profile Republicans, including former Gov. Jim Gilmore and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Campaign finance records show he was paid $140,000 to help McAuliffe defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in November's election.

McAuliffe later appointed Marcus to the $130,000-a-year ABC post, prompting outrage by Republicans who said it looks like a political payoff. An effort to block the appointment failed Monday in the state Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Democrats.

McAuliffe has rejected any suggestion that Marcus' endorsement and appointment are improperly linked. Marcus has not commented.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney Dana Boente, the state GOP chairman said the federal prosecutor's office will appear politicized if it declines to investigate McAuliffe's actions after securing a 14-count indictment against McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. The McDonnells are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the former CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for promoting his products. They have pleaded not guilty. A jury trial is scheduled for late July.

"If you and your staff open an investigation into Governor McAuliffe's actions regarding his appointments to the Virginia ABC Board, Virginians can rest easy, knowing that you and your team are non-partisan, public servants who simply pursue justice and public integrity for the betterment of the Commonwealth," Mullins wrote in the letter to Boente.

Spokesmen for Boente's office did not immediately return telephone messages.

Mullins last month also asked newly elected state Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, to investigate the appointment. A Herring spokesman said the attorney general wasn't aware of any information that would warrant an investigation.

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