Speed Reads

2016 election

Possible Clinton VP pick could face accusations of cronyism, corruption

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) is likely on the shortlist to be Hillary Clinton's running mate, but if selected, his acceptance of gifts could provide ample ammo for enemies seeking to take Clinton down in the general election. Although Virginia has especially lenient gift laws (which has gotten others, such as former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), into hot water), Republicans can point to Kaine's acceptance of an $18,000 Caribbean vacation, $5,500 in clothes, and tickets to the NCAA basketball Final Four as evidence of a corrupt political class, Politico reports.

"During his eight years as lieutenant governor and governor, Sen. Kaine went beyond the requirements of Virginia law, even publicly disclosing gifts of value beneath the reporting threshold. He's confident that he met both the letter and the spirit of Virginia's ethical standards," a spokesperson said. Kaine indeed has never been accused of corruption; his gifts were rather received out of acts of apparent friendships rather than in a bargain for political favors.

Still, "the danger here is that there's already a narrative on Hillary Clinton: It's crooked cronyism, and any pick or any other action that drives that narrative is going to be bad for her," former Republican National Committee Deputy Research Director Matt Moon said. "If you're on the Clinton campaign side, you want to look at potential vulnerabilities in how a VP pick would drive an opposition narrative."