Youngkin to Skip Virginia Bar Association Debate over Moderator’s Conflict of Interest

Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe


Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin will not participate in the Virginia Bar Association’s upcoming debate due to a conflict of interest presented by the moderator.

The Virginia Star reported last week that Youngkin’s campaign was considering sitting out of the debate if PBS’ Judy Woodruff was named the moderator. Woodruff customarily moderates the Virginia Bar Association’s gubernatorial debate.

“But in 2010, Woodruff gave $250 to the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Haiti Relief Fund,” after a massive earthquake struck the island nation. That supposed charity initiative became the subject of serious corruption claims,” The Star reported. “Not only has Woodruff shown her preference for Democrats by donating to the Clinton-run organization, but McAuliffe himself was a Clinton Foundation board member as late as 2004. He was later a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, where he was party to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into that organization.”

Earlier this week, Woodruff was officially named moderator of the debate, leading Youngkin to decline the invitation due to the conflict of interest.

“We’re just not going to debate two-on-one,” Jeff Roe, a strategist for the Youngkin campaign, reportedly told Associated Press.

Youngkin’s campaign was also displeased that Woodruff would have the autonomy to choose the debate’s questions.

Sara Just, the executive producer of PBS’ NewsHour, which would have broadcast the debate, denied that Woodruff has any political bias.

“Re: the moderator, this is outrageous. Judy’s donation to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund was in response to bipartisan call by fmr prezs [sic] Clinton & George W. Bush in 2010 for relief for Haiti following devastating earthquake. Seeing it thru [sic] any other lens is completely misleading,” she said.

“And it should go without saying, Judy – over the course of her distinguished career – has never donated to a politician or any political party,” she continued.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is running against Youngkin, used the opportunity to take shots at his opponent.

“Pathetic that [Glenn Youngkin] doesn’t have the courage to meet me on stage at the VBA debate next week. After a rough month for his campaign, he’s more desperate than ever to hide his right-wing views because he knows how out of step they are with VA. Can’t hide forever Glenn!” McAuliffe said on Twitter.

Youngkin’s campaign responded, noting that he will be in attendance for the next scheduled debate at the Appalachian School of Law on September 16.

“Glenn Youngkin looks forward to debating career politician and Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe, and hearing him explain his poor performance as governor,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter reportedly said.

There are three other potential debates during which the candidates could spar. One is at Hampton University, another is at Liberty University, and a third is at the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. All will be held in late August.

Youngkin’s campaign says he plans to attend those debates. McAuliffe’s campaign has yet to commit.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin.






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