RICHMOND, Va. – The federal investigation into Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has focused on his business dealings before he took office and has found no evidence of wrongdoing, the governor's attorney said Wednesday.
Attorney James W. Cooper said Justice Department officials told him they have been looking into McAuliffe'sforeign sources of income before he became governor in 2014 and whether he violated the law by lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests.
Cooper told The Associated Press that officials said they have found no evidence McAuliffe engaged in such lobbying. He said investigators did not mention concerns about campaign contributions or anything else related to McAuliffe's time as governor.
"Our view is that (the investigation) should be closed promptly because there is no evidence that he violated the statute," Cooper said.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press earlier this week that McAuliffe is the subject of a federal investigation related to campaign finance.
The governor said Tuesday he believed the investigation centers around a donation connected to a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang. Federal law forbids foreigners from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, butMcAuliffe said Wang has held a green card for nearly a decade and is a legitimate donor.
Before he was elected governor, McAuliffe headed a small electric-car company that set up operations in north Mississippi. Part of its business plan was to recruit wealthy foreign investors under an investor visa program with the help of a company run by Tony Rodham, the youngest brother of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General issued a report last year saying a top department official improperly intervened on behalf of foreign investors seeking U.S. visas in three cases involving prominent Democrats, including McAuliffe.
The report said no laws were broken. The AP reported last year that McAuliffe rebuffed requests by the inspector general for an interview.
McAuliffe criticized federal law enforcement officials on WTOP radio on Wednesday for leaking information about the probe. He said he and Wang have been treated unfairly.
"This poor man has been dragged through the mud for giving a legitimate contribution," McAuliffe said.
Wang is a member of China's ruling Communist Party and a delegate from the northeastern province of Liaoning to the country's ceremonial legislature, the National People's Congress, according to the body's website.
Membership in the congress, which meets only once a year, is often awarded based on contributions to China's economy and society. Proposals raised by Wang at the two-week annual session focused on economic development in the northeast and improving China's foreign trade links, according to a website run by the Chinese Cabinet's information office.
A spokeswoman for Wang declined to comment.
One of Wang's companies, New Jersey-based West Legend, gave $70,000 to McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign and $50,000 to his inaugural committee in 2013, according to Virginia campaign finance records.
McAuliffe, a Democrat and longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, said he's also confident the investigation won't harm Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
"I don't think this has anything to do with Hillary Clinton," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe is a former board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a program of the Clinton Foundation. The foundation reports that it received $1 million to $5 million from one of Wang's companies, Rilin Enterprises, but does not say when the money was given.
Rilin, one of China's biggest architecture and design companies, has taken on multiple international projects, including construction work on China's consulate in New York City and its United Nations representative office, according to Chinese media reports.
One of Wang's companies, Dandong Port Group, has a trade deal to ship Virginia soybeans to China. Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore said Dandong has purchased "hundreds of millions" worth of Virginia soybeans in recent years.
Wang is chairman of the group, based in the Chinese city of the same name along the North Korean border.
Wang is also an active environmentalist. Democratic Leader Harry Reid last year thanked Wang for his "commitment and dedication" to restoring the Dandong Yalu River Estuary Wetland in China, according to a statement published in the congressional record.