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Confused about Gov. McAuliffe? Here's What We Know About The Federal Investigation

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Chances are pretty high you've heard about the reported federal investigation into Virginia's Democratic Governor, related to campaign finance. But if things seem murky and unclear, that's because they are. We'll try to break it down for you.

What Do We Know? 

Let's start with the simple answer, which is that we know very little. 

Things began Monday when CNN first broke the news that Virginia's Governor was the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department. That was according to anonymous officials.

McAuliffe claims to have had no prior knowledge of the investigation, and to have learned about it along with everyone else. 

In their initial report, CNN said the investigation had been going on since last year, and in question was whether donations to McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign violated the law.

Soon after, the Washington Post added their own information, also citing anonymous sources. According to the Post's reporting, federal prosecutors are investigating McAuliffe's personal finances.

Throughout it all officials with the Justice Department have neither confirmed nor denied the story.

In a radio appearance on WTOP Wednesday, the Governor said his lawyer has contacted the Justice Department and asked if there has been any indication of wrongdoing. According to the Governor, the Justice Department's response was no.

I Heard There Was a Chinese Businessman Involved...

Wang Wenliang is a Chinese billionaire whose name surfaced in CNN's initial report.

A selection of Tweets show Clinton already receiving backlash for her association with McAuliffe.

  According to CNN, Wenliang's contributions to McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign drew interest from federal investigators. Wang gave $120,000 to McAuliffe, which McAuliffe's lawyer Marc Elias maintains was a lawful contribution.

Governor McAuliffe says campaign donors are carefully vetted, and his relationship with Wang is limited.

"I don't deal with him, I have no personal relationship with him. He gave money," said McAuliffe during a radio interview on WTOP.

The New York Times reports that Wang, while Chinese, is also a permanent resident of the United States. If true, that would make his contribution legal under federal and state law.

Wang is a delegate to China's legislative body, as well as a prominent businessman dealing with agricultural imports. According to the New York Times, Wang's company has dealt with American politicians before -- negotiating a deal to buy a port in Arkansas, and pledging $2 million to the Clinton Foundation.

In Virginia, Wang's company ships soybeans through a port in Chesapeake.

McAuliffe being interviewed by WTOP's Debra Feinstein.

What Does It Have to Do With the Clintons?

Credit Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walks on the stage with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, at an event hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia at George Mason University.

McAuliffe has close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic party establishment.

McAuliffe chaired Clinton's 2008 presidential bid and was head of the Democratic National Committee for four years in the early 2000's. He is also a board member of the Clinton Foundation, a charitable organization run by Bill Clinton that accepted $2 million from the Chinese businessman whose name is now linked to the McAuliffe investigation.

While the ties aren't exactly clear, it certainly doesn't reflect well on Hillary Clinton that her go-to man in Virginia is under investigation. It also may not mean good things for her chances in the important swing state.

Wait! Hasn't This Happened Before?

If the terms 'Virginia' 'governor' 'corruption' and 'investigation' sound familiar together, that's because it's happened before. McAuliffe is now the second consecutive Virginia governor to be investigated by the feds.

Ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently stood trial for corruption. He was convicted and sentenced jail time for accepting more than $175,000 in loans and gifts from a businessman who was close to his wife. In exchange, the McDonnells helped support the businessman's product and connected him to Virginia officials.

McDonnell appealed his conviction and his case was recently heard before the Supreme Court. A final resolution is still pending.

The two back-to-back incidents certainly don't shine a positive light on Virginia politics. As one headline put it 'FBI Now Investigating Virginia Governor Who Replaced the Virginia Governor Convicted of Corruption.'

WTOP's Mark Lewis asks McAuliffe a question during their 'Ask the Governor' segment.

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