The Gifts Keep Coming

gravy-trainBarr Pharmaceuticals gave Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia a ride on a private jet to a meeting in Aspen, Colo., at a time in 2006 when it was lobbying him over issues related to its drug sales, state records show.

Dominion Resources, Virginia’s largest electric utility and a lobbying force in the state’s capital, Richmond, picked up the tab for a trip that Mr. Kaine took that same year to the college basketball Final Four tournament (and a funeral) in Indianapolis, according to the records. McCandlish Holton PC, a law and lobbying firm that represented Virginia’s small vineyards and worked closely with Mr. Kaine’s office to create a new system for distributing wine produced by the vineyards, presented Mr. Kaine with four cases of wine in 2007, the records show, the same year he signed the legislation into law. Under Virginia’s lax ethics rules at the time, the gifts, which had a total value of more than $160,000, were all legal as long as they were disclosed.

But with Mr. Kaine’s selection as Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate, the gifts he received in the four years he served as Virginia’s chief executive and his time as lieutenant governor before that are certain to be cited by his Republican critics as a sign that Mr. Kaine, who is now a United States senator, is not as squeaky clean as he portrays himself. “It would be naïve to think a pharmaceutical company like Teva was not interested in maintaining access to the governor as a result of a gift of that size,” said Andrew P. Miller, a former Democratic attorney general in Virginia, who now works as an energy industry lawyer and lobbyist, referring to Teva Pharmaceuticals, which bought Barr in 2008.

Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, wasted little time in starting to attack Mr. Kaine, branding him on Friday night as “corrupt Kaine.” Mr. Kaine’s acceptance of gifts has been reported on at times, dating back to when he was in the governor’s office. But an examination by The New York Times of archival email traffic from Mr. Kaine’s tenure as governor shows that he received gifts, in some cases, around the same time he and his staff were considering official government requests from these donors. In Barr’s case, the email records show that executives from the company asked Mr. Kaine to intervene with the Food and Drug Administration on its behalf in August 2006, just days before the flight to Aspen for a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association, later valued at $12,000 in Mr. Kaine’s disclosure report.

Mr. Kaine signed the letter to the F.D.A. — a draft of which had been written by Barr — as requested before leaving on the trip, and a company lobbyist suggested that he was prepared to follow up during the plane ride. “The Gov will be on a plane on Friday with Phil Smith,” Eileen Filler-Corn, an aide to the governor, wrote in an August 2006 email, after she had met with Mr. Smith, then a lobbyist from Barr. “Phil will likely speak with to Gov about him sending a letter in support of the petition in Aspen this weekend, hence this email to ya’ll.” State records compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project show that a total of 139 companies or individuals gave about 220 gifts or reimbursements for travel to Mr. Kaine to work-related conferences while he served as governor from 2006 to 2010 and lieutenant governor from 2002 to 2006. Amy Dudley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kaine, said that two-thirds of the filings were in the work-related travel category, and that Mr. Kaine was careful to disclose any gift, even if it was from a family friend, which is not required under the law. She rejected any suggestion that Mr. Kaine may have done anything to benefit any individual or company that had given him a gift, including Teva, which sells generic drugs and has a large manufacturing plant in Forest, Va.

“Many governors at the time believed, as then-Governor Kaine did, that more widespread use of generic drugs would reduce state and federal health care costs without compromising the quality of care,” Ms. Dudley said. The issue of gifts to elected officials has become particularly delicate in Virginia in the aftermath of the criminal case against Mr. Kaine’s successor, Bob McDonnell, which was filed in 2014, even though his conviction was vacated late last month by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. McDonnell took much more extravagant gifts — including a Rolex watch and catering for his daughter’s wedding and other gifts and loans worth $177,000 — from a single businessman who was seeking help with a state government-related matter, and Mr. McDonnell did not disclose all of those gifts. Until the Virginia General Assembly moved last year to tighten state ethics laws — prohibiting any single lobbyist, in most circumstances, from giving an elected official more than $100 in gifts each year — it was common practice for state lawmakers to accept gifts, at times worth more than $10,000.

The largest proportion of the gifts that Mr. Kaine received was for political and campaign-related travel, including the $45,075 it cost for him to campaign around the country in 2008 for Barack Obama. Other major gifts came from personal friends, including a weeklong stay, worth $18,000, in 2005 shortly after Mr. Kaine was elected governor on the exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique, provided by James B. Murray Jr., a Virginia-based venture capitalist specializing in telecommunications investments, who also donated $45,000 to Mr. Kaine’s election campaign and to a political action committee affiliated with Mr. Kaine. Mr. Murray owned an oceanside estate named Les Jolies Eaux — which boasts five bedrooms, two pools and, at least nowadays, a chef, butler, housekeeper, maid and gardener, according to a rental listing — that was designed for Princess Margaret, countess of Snowdon, the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.