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Youngkin took Altria jet to Hamptons fundraiser, flight records suggest

Wilbur Ross stands behind a table, wearing a dark suit.
Andrew Harnik
The Associated Press File
Wilbur Ross, who served as Secretary of Commerce in President Donald Trump’s administration, arrives for a House subcommittee on Capitol Hill in 2020. Ross recently held a fundraiser for Gov. Glenn Youngkin at his home in the Hamptons.

Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, held the event on Youngkin’s behalf.

Public records suggest Gov. Glenn Youngkin may have borrowed Altria’s corporate jet to attend a fundraiser in the Hamptons hosted by Wilbur Ross, who served as Secretary of Commerce in President Donald Trump’s administration.

At 10:30 A.M. Aug. 3, Youngkin was scheduled to visit an Ag expo in Virginia Beach. Early that afternoon, a jet registered to Altria traveled from Richmond to Norfolk, stopped for about an hour, and then flew on to the Hamptons in New York State, according to a crowdsourced flight tracking site.

Ross held a fundraiser for Youngkin the following day at his home in the Hamptons, according to the New York Post. Citing an unnamed source, the Post reported attendees included billionaires Ronald Lauder, John Paulson and Nelson Peltz. Youngkin’s public schedule that day was blank.

Gov. Youngkin speaks at a podium
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond on Sept. 7. In August, Youngkin raised at least $3.1 million, according to data compiled from the Virginia Public Access Project.

The 2022 Gulfstream G600 flew to Dulles International Airport late on the night of Aug. 4, before returning to Richmond in the early hours of Aug. 5.

It’s not clear if Altria executives or board members attended the fundraiser — or why Youngkin turned to the company to fly him to the event.

Representatives for Youngkin and Altria did not respond to questions related to the Hamptons flight. Youngkin’s spokespersons previously said the campaign follows state laws, and the governor or his campaign pays for personal and political travel.

The trip was legal under Virginia’s campaign finance laws, although the $55,000 Altria in-kind donation wasn’t reported until Aug. 17. State law requires campaigns to report any in-kind or cash contributions over $10,000 within three days.

Altria is a major political player in Virginia’s General Assembly. The company, which owns tobacco giant Philip Morris, employs one lobbyist and keeps 13 more on retainer, according to state records compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project. It’s given state-level Virginia politicians and candidatesroughly $1.8 million since Jan. 1, 2020.

Ross’ event was part of a broader fundraising blitz that helped Youngkin raise at least $3.1 million in the month of August alone, according to data compiled from the Virginia Public Access Project. Youngkin has remained coy about the prospect of running for president, saying he’s focused on Virginia’s legislative races this fall.

State Sen. Scott Surovell (D–Fairfax) said he questioned why the flights weren’t reported sooner if they were used to attend the fundraiser. But he said the fact that Youngkin was connected to national figures like Ross suggested the governor’s ambitions lie across the Potomac.

“He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, last year campaigning for president at his campaign account,” Surovell said, referring to Youngkin’s travel to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidates in more than a dozen states. “If that's how he wants to spend his campaign money, instead of spending it winning the state senate, it's fine with me.”

Updated: September 15, 2023 at 11:33 AM EDT
Adds details regarding Altria's political efforts in Virginia.


Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.