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Virginia’s Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe ducked out of a public forum on disability issues on Thursday to attend a private fundraiser in Las Vegas with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
The moment came during an online Zoom chat hosted by the Arc of Northern Virginia, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote and protect “the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.”
Throughout the event, the state’s candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general were asked to speak to attendees about where they “stand on disability issues,” while also fielding questions from the audience. Attorney General Mark Herring was the only candidate not in attendance.
Upon introducing McAuliffe to the audience, the host noted that the Democrat nominee would “need to leave after the first question to keep a prior commitment.” According to Breitbart News, however, McAuliffe’s “prior commitment” involved attending a private fundraiser in Las Vegas later that evening alongside Sisolak, who has recently faced multiple allegations of domestic abuse and impropriety from several women, including his ex-wife.
“A fundraising invitation obtained by Breitbart News shows that McAuliffe is indeed proceeding with a fundraiser alongside Sisolak in Las Vegas at an undisclosed location on Thursday evening,” the report read. “The fundraiser invite asks for at least $500 to attend as a guest to up to $5,000 to be a ‘sponsor.’ Mid-level donors can give $1,000 to be McAuliffe’s ‘friend’ and $2,500 to be his ‘ally.’”
Terry McAuliffe deserted a gubernatorial forum hosted by Virginia's disability community after the first question.
He left to attend a fundraiser in Las Vegas with a politician accused of abusing his ex-wife. pic.twitter.com/j2CU9qPEdb
— Team Youngkin (@TeamYoungkin) August 13, 2021
Attendees of the disability forum voiced their displeasure with McAuliffe’s early exit, with some people noting the former governor’s apparent lack of interest in attending the event.
“Thank you to the candidates that made this event a priority,” one attendee commented. “Unlike former Gov McAuliffe, who made it known before we started that he would only take one question.”
“We appreciate ALL of the candidates for being here this evening. IT’s unfortunate that some had scheduling conflicts,” another wrote.
The Republican Party of Virginia was also quick to denounce McAuliffe, while additionally calling on the Democrat candidate to apologize to the state’s disabled community.
“Terry McAuliffe must immediately apologize to Virginia’s disabled community for his disgraceful and disrespectful behavior yesterday, when he deserted The Arc of Northern Virginia Candidate Forum and members of the disabled community to fundraise with an accused domestic abuser,” the press release read. “Virginia’s next governor needs to put people before money, and that’s what Glenn Youngkin will do. He will respect all Virginians and unite them around a vision for the future where Virginia is the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The Republican Party of Virginia also included testimony from Arthur “Lee” Talley, who said that as a father with a disabled child, he was “horrified” by McAuliffe’s “disrespectful” and “reprehensible” decision.
“Last night clearly showed that a vote for McAuliffe would be dangerous for any family with a loved one with special needs,” Talley said. “A vote for him represents a continued status quo of a system not working for our families and a worsening of services for families in Virginia.”
The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.
The latest development continues to pour fuel on the fire of the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election, where polls show the race as a virtual tie. According to an Aug. 8-9 survey conducted by research and analytics firm co/efficient, McAuliffe leads Republican candidate Youngkin by two percentage points (47 to 45 percent), which falls within the poll’s nearly 3 percent margin of error. Roughly 8 percent of voters remain undecided.
Virginia’s statewide elections are set to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2.