Sen. Tim Kaine, long thought to be one of the top contenders for Hillary Clinton’s Vice President spot, just released a series of disclosures from his time as governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia. And man oh man, they do not look good. Per Politico, Kaine accepted various gifts totaling more than $160,000.
Between 2001 and 2009, Kaine received an $18,000 Caribbean vacation, more than $5,000 in clothes, and a trip to the Final Four. These were all legal, under Virginia’s lenient gift laws, but that doesn’t change how they’ll be perceived. The public will not take kindly to someone who accepted a large gift from a pharmaceutical company, for instance, just before that company made a significant purchase in the state.
Poll after poll shows that the majority of voters don’t trust Clinton—even if they like her experience—and the last thing she needs on her presidential ticket is a running mate vulnerable to charges of corruption. It’s easy to imagine how Donald Trump and his GOP strategists would paint Kaine as a compromised member of the establishment, which would only add to his outsider bona fides.
The response from Kaine’s team has been pretty hilarious. They’re trying to distinguish between “acts of corruption” and “acts of friendship,” arguing that contrary to former Gov. Bob McDonnell (who was convicted on 11 felony counts), there was no quid pro quo. But he might have a harder time arguing that he’s best pals with a pharmaceutical company, or Dominion, Virginia’s largest electric company—who regularly lobbied Kaine, and sent him on a private jet to the NCAA Final Four.
“During his eight years as lieutenant governor and governor, Sen. Kaine went beyond the requirements of Virginia law, even publicly disclosing gifts of value beneath the reporting threshold,” a spokesperson said. “He’s confident that he met both the letter and the spirit of Virginia’s ethical standards.”
Yes, but his confidence isn’t what matters, is it? And it won’t help that Kaine actually wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2013 highlighting his “regret” at not adopting the federal rules that apply to the Senate, where he currently serves.
Read the specific details of the gifts Kaine received here. In conclusion: Advantage Elizabeth Warren.