Conversation about last year’s gubernatorial election was partly dominated by the role of campaign finance. Both major candidates raised a large amount of money, including millions from out-of-state donors, to help fund highly partisan campaigns for governor.
As a public university, Mason’s Board of Visitors (what’s that?) is appointed by the governor and approved by the General Assembly on a rotating basis for four-year terms. Therefore, the direction of the university is in some part dependent on the politics of the state.
Visitors are often active members of the community and have reputations throughout the state – whether through business, politics or some other activism. They also often donate to Virginia political campaigns. According to data provided by the Virginia Public Access Project, only a handful of Visitors have donated less than $1,000 over the past five years, with several board members donating well over $100,000.
Since 2009, Mason’s Board of Visitors has donated overwhelmingly to Republican candidates and political action committees. Board members have donated nearly half a million dollars to GOP groups, with individual donations ranging up to $10,000 or more for a single candidate.
The largest benefactors of these donations have been statewide candidates, such as Governor Bob McDonnell in 2009 and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in 2013 during his gubernatorial bid. A number of Northern Virginia GOP legislators have also benefited from board donations, including Del. Barabara Comstock and Del. David Ramadan. Rector C. Daniel Clemente donated $7,000 to Del. Ramadan with an additional $7,500 through his business, Clemente LLC. Clemente was also one of Del. Comstock’s largest donors over $11,000 since 2009.
I’ve compiled a spreadsheet that breaks down all board political donations since 2009 by visitor.