Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell isn't influencing legislation, he's just sitting next to his childhood friend while he signs a bill at Dominion headquarters.
At least, that's what they'd have us believe.
The recent revelations of the Virginia Tobacco Commission giving Dominion millions of dollars in corporate welfare beyond what the mega-corporation even asked for, in order to build a pipeline through Virginia land, lead to some embarrassing and potentially illegal details.
Despite this, VPAP lists Farrell giving McDonnell lavish meals in summer and fall 2009: $303 for "Catering" in May 2009 and $166 for "Meeting Expenses" in October 2009 - and a whopping $60,000 in direct donations. Then, he was a chair of McDonnell's transition team, responsible for handing out patronage appointments.
Are we expected to believe that lobbying activity ceased at this point when, it seems, no one in Virginia was a more potent lobbyist than Thomas Farrell?
If he had registered as a lobbyist in 2008-9, then certainly he would have ample reason to re-register. But McDonnell's lawyers never met a gift they didn't lie about.
The lobbying rules for Virginia are very strict - people must register if they try to affect any of the following:
As always, the following list isn't meant to be comprehensive, so feel free to add your suggestions in comments section. Thanks, and here's hoping for a better 2015 for Virginia Democrats!
Winners 1. Rep. Dave Brat (R): The guy's nuttier than a port-o-potty at a peanut festival, as the saying goes, but he's now CONGRESSMAN crazy, having pulled the upset victory of the year, over none other than the Republican Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, Eric Cantor.
2. Ed Gillespie (R): He lost the U.S. Senate election to Mark Warner, but by a tiny margin in a race that wasn't even supposed to be close, proving you CAN win by losing sometimes. Now, Gillespie has turned himself into a serious power in Virginia politics, the only question being what he will do with that power.
3. Rep. Scott Rigell (R): After a crushing victory in November, Rigell's starting to look entrenched in the 2nd CD. That's very unfortunate for the 2nd CD, but good for Scott Rigell!
4. Barbara Comstock (R): Right-wing and hyperpartisan as they come; nonetheless, she managed to not just win, but utterly TROUNCE her Democratic opponent, John Foust. The only questions now are: a) can Democrats beat her in 2016, possibly their last chance to do so before she is totally entrenched; b) when will she be seriously talked about for national office (e.g., U.S. Senate, VP)?
5. Sen. Tim Kaine (D): It seems to me that the "junior" partner in the relationship with Mark Warner has now moved to the top of the heap. Kaine has handled himself very well in the U.S. Senate, really come into his own, and set himself up for...I dunno, running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2016 perhaps?
6. Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R): He's got the majority, not that he'll do anything good with it. Now, let's see if he can keep it.
7. Don Beyer (D): Came back from Switzerland to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Moran, and won in a landslide (both in the primary and the general election). I'd also note that 8th CD Democrats arguably get someone with all the strong qualities of Jim Moran, without Moran's numerous (ethical and other) downsides.
8. AG Mark Herring (D): A great year for him on the policy and political fronts (marriage equality, in-state tuition for "dreamers," etc.), no matter how you look at it. The only question is, can he match (or top) his 2014 accomplishments in 2015 (hint: time to take on environmental issues, the corrupt State Corportation Commission, and pay-to-play politics as exemplified by Dominion Power!), and how much of a leg up does this give him for the 2017 Virginia governor's race?
9. John Vihstadt (R), Libby Garvey (D): They didn't lead Arlington in a positive direction in 2014, nor were their claims about the streetcar (and other issues) correct in most cases, but they won big time in 2014. Highly unfortunate for Arlington's future...sigh.
10. Dominion Virginia Power: This company has used its capture of Virginia's government to benefit...well, itself of course. To the tune of tens of millions of $$$$$ in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare, a "study" by the State Corporation Commission that might as well have been by Dominion (was it?), and continued efforts to hold back the transition to a clean energy economy for Virginia. Yeah, the rest of us all lose, but Dominion keeps on keepin' on...so I guess that makes them a "winner," in an utterly warped sense.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, December 22. Words of wisdom for the day, from Washington Post reporter Radley Balko: "It's possible to both be appalled by senseless executions of cops, and angry at unjustified killings by cops. This isn't hard to understand." Except that it's apparently hard to understand for Rudy Guiliani and other assorted hotheads, demagogues, etc. Finally, the photo as described by Sen. Tim Kaine: "Took a break from Christmas shopping this afternoon to play Johnny B. Goode with Santa in Carytown." Cool!
The following list is inspired by GQ's just-published "America's 20 Craziest Politicians" (Steve King, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Joe Barton, etc.). For my list, I'm sticking to Virginia elected officials, people who have been Virginia elected officials, or current/past candidates for elective office in Virginia. Obviously, this list is subjective, but what it is NOT intended to be is a measure of how far to the right (or left, for that matter) the politician is, per se. I mean, I could easily fill up the list with people who deny climate science, as in my view that's definitive proof that you're either a fossil fuel industry tool, an imbecile, or nuts. Instead, this list is comprised of people who are just "crazy," in the colloquial sense, regardless of what party they're in (although note that the vast majority are Republicans - shocker, huh? - and it's not for lack of trying to come up with Democrats to make it more "even" - the fact is that today's GOP attracts "teh crazy" like....well, crazy!). Anyway, enjoy!(?)
1. E.W. Jackson (R): Has anyone ever heard anything come out of his mouth that wasn't at least a bit "out there?" OK, need specific examples of this guy's insanity? For starters, he's obsessed with Barack Obama (e.g., how Obama's supposedly not a Christian, how he's supposedly an anti-Semite, blah blah blah); how "Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was;" how gays are "frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally," who are attempting to "poison our children, divide them from their parents and the teaching of the church and basically turn them into pawns for that movement so that they can sexualize them at the earliest possible age." What's truly shocking about this guy isn't so much that he's an extremist and an all-around lunatic, but that the Virginia GOP nominated him for Lt. Governor of our state in 2013! What does that say about them? Anyway, E.W. Jackson has the "honor" of being #1 on this list. As Chris Cillizza likes to say, "Congrats...or something!" LOL
2. Ken Cuccinelli (R): Again, where do you even start with this guy? I mean, this is someone who - in addition to the de-rigeur-among-wingnutsclimate science denial - also tried to make it easier for people to discriminate against gay people, claimed that Virginia can disobey federal laws it disagrees with, believes the government is tracking his kids via Social Security numbers, and talks to a toy elephant named "Ron", is a "birther," rants about a "vast left-wing conspiracy" and the "Humanist Manifesto," claims that liberals "cannot tolerate god" and that Barack Obama has "helped destroy this country," compared immigrants to rat families, etc, etc. Most appallingly, "the Cooch" actually was elected to be Virginia's Attorney General, where he spent four years on a bunch of crazy, mostly failed, crusades. He also was, appallingly yet again, the Virginia Republican Party's 2013 nominee for governor of our state. It says a great deal about said party that they'd nominate such a lunatic, not to mention extremist, as Ken Cuccinelli. Come to think of it, maybe Cooch should have been #1, and E.W. Jackson #2, on this list?
3. Sen. Steve Martin (R): What more do you need to know than this ("Child's Host" State Senator: Torture Justified "no matter what body parts are lost in the process")? Basically, Martin makes the stereotypical "cave man"/Genghis Khan look like enlightened, sensitive people.
Just keep in mind when reading the following that this same guy, Virginia State Senator Steve Martin (R-of course!), is the same guy who referred to pregnant women as a "child's host" ("some refer to them as mothers"), and who said that the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to choose are "really sick people." Also interesting is how Martin uses his religion to justify whatever extreme views he holds, even if nothing whatsoever in said religion conforms to those views (e.g., where in the Gospels does Jesus preach that torture is justified? where in the Gospels does Jesus preach that abortion is murder? uhhhh.). Anyway, no matter how you look at it, this is some seriously warped, demented s***, unworthy of any American (or human being), let alone a State Senator. Ugh.
Steve Martin Beth: First, I've not acknowledged or represented interrogation techniques which are not intended to cause physical harm as being "torture." The techniques others keep raising as used by the Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. were intended to cause physical harm without concern for it causing death. The techniques being discussed as part of the US CIA arsenal do not fit that description. As a matter of fact, our special forces go through it and more in training because we know it will not cause them physical harm. I'm not prepared to quote chapter and verse on this, but as you know there are scriptures speaking to loving your neighbors as ourselves, coming to their defense at our own expense, defense of a country and its people, etc.. Do you believe Christ would have us know that 3000 innocent people were about to be killed by a particular person and not do what was within our means to prevent it? What if preventing it involved shooting the person who was about to push a detonation button? If so, why would shooting him be okay but not making him think for a few moments that he might drown? What about the issue of shooting someone who has been shooting at you and those in your home? Even if we were in fact taking the threat's life (we're not, not even putting it at risk) it would be no different than ending the life that is threatening ours. An argument to the contrary would make sense only if you believe that you are never to defend yourself, your family, neighbors, or nation.
P.S. Note that if you go Martin's Facebook page, you'll find a lot of support for his position on torture. For instance, one person writes, "Gonads in a vice? I have no problem with that.....whatever it takes to protect/save loved ones." And another fine fan of Martin's writes, "On board to water board and more if that's what it takes ( and apparently it does )... urghhhhh. Idiots. .. " It's also fun, in a weird kind of way, watching Martin tie himself into logical knots attempting to explain why it's ok to give the government, which he generally seems to believe is evil and should have very limited powers, the power to torture and even kill people, even if it's illegal (which it is), immoral (which it is), unChristian (which it is), etc. With that, check out the screen shot of what Martin posted, and also the following comment he left in the discussion thread.
P.P.S. Martin also claims in another Facebook thread that "those among the 31% [of Americans who oppose the CIA's methods] should not be operating heavy equipment or have access to scissors."
The cloak of silence surrounding intimate partner fatalities is nearly impenetrable. Details are buried with the victims. Family members deny evidence of abuse before their very eyes. But partners who have survived and healed provide a window on the methods and complexity of power wielded by their abusers.
What follows are stories told by women who could be your sister, mother, neighbor, or boss. These women came together in October at Charlottesville's Shelter for Help in Emergency to share their lives; to try to explain and describe how they were bound to their abusers, how they left, and how they continue to suffer though the healing process. Looking at them you would never know what is inside or be able to distinguish them from the staff at the Shelter. These are striking women who you know but who live secret parallel existences; hidden even from themselves.
The stories that follow are at once different and the same. One striking aspect of these is that the methods the abusers employ are from the same kit familiar to anyone who has studied child or elder abuse or, for that matter, financial exploitation of the wealthy in Ponzi schemes. They are just applied in different variations depending upon the situation and prey. If we recognize the tools in the toolkit, then maybe observing them being applied is the red flag to defend ourselves and others. This, as suggested in A Journey Into Intimate Power and Abuse, provides a perspective that hints a "healthy cynicism" is the necessary defense against any form of nefarious advantage.
All of these women were and are like any of us, reaching to achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. What makes us vulnerable is how and when we assign trust. That vulnerability is an aspect of human commerce as is trust. Sociopaths leverage an intuition crafted from their own experiences to recognize prey and know how to "close the sale."
Note: The posters featured here line the walls of the conference room at the Charlottesville Shelter office. Like the stories that follow, there are no names displayed out of respect for the privacy and security of these survivors. (click to embiggen)
It's looking like debate and legislation on the EPA's Clean Power Plan could be the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session's "ObamaCare" for Republicans and Tea Partiers. Turns out the Koch-brothers' front group Americans for Prosperity is weighing in big time, and GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Sen. Frank Wagner, has jumped on the bandwagon big time.
Note that Sen. Wagner is Co-chair of Joint Senate/House subcommittee formed to deal with legislation on the EPA's Clean Power Plan. That Subcommittee's first meeting was held on Wednesday, with Sen Wagner running the meeting and only one invited speaker. Who was that speaker, you ask? That's right, none other than our old friend David W. Schnare, General Counsel at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute., there to provide "analysis" (hahahaha) of the "Proposed Clean Power Plan Rule Issued Under § 111(d) of the Clean Air Act." First, a bit of background on Mr. Schnare:
The author of the report, David Schnare, [was] a a Senior Fellow of the Thomas Jefferson Institute. Schnare runs a blog where he has some interesting things to say. For instance:
*Environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people."
*On global warming, he constantly belittles concerns over it and questions the science. For instance, in August 2007 he wrote, "In a paper soon to be published, Scott Barrett explains why we are not facing a global emergency, why we need not act precipitously and without sufficient regard to the economic consequences, and why we will never reach, nor need to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases." Schnare also claims that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km" and concludes, "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year."
*Also on global warming, Barrett writes, "When it comes to global warming, I'm a skeptic because the conclusions about the cause of the apparent warming stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain data and models." Regardless, he writes, "a strategy of relying exclusively on reduction of greenhouse gases is doomed to failure."
*Barrett also claims that "reliance on, and vigorous implementation of greenhouse gas reduction is basically a racist approach with progressive tax-like implications that will further divide the rich from the poor."
These people are truly heinous. Needless to say, Gov. McAuliffe needs to veto any energy legislation sponsored by the Koch brothers' - or other fossil fuels' - front groups, like the Orwellian-named "Americans for Prosperity" (a more apt name would be "The Top 0.1% for Prosperity ONLY of the Top 0.1%, Screw the Other 99.9%"). As for the following "Memorandum," pretty much every word of it is either a lie, distortion, and/or assault on the environment. For starters, the EPA's carbon pollution goals are modest and long overdue (not "overreaching" by a long shot); this will CREATE jobs and BOOST our economy (not "threaten" it in any way); etc. Did I mention how heinous these people are?
To: Members of the Virginia General Assembly From: Sean Lansing, State Director of Americans for Prosperity-Virginia Re:RASP Act Date: Thursday, December 18, 2014
Dear Members of the General Assembly:
On behalf of more than 70,000 Americans for Prosperity activists living in Virginia, I encourage you to support efforts to push back against the overreaching Environmental Protection Agency. The new proposed carbon emissions rule from President Obama's EPA will amount to a federal takeover of the electricity system. EPA proposes that Virginia cut power sector CO2 emissions by 43 percent from 2012 levels by 2030, which will threaten jobs and energy affordability here in our state.
That's why I'm writing to urge you to support the Reliable, Affordable, and Safe Power (RASP) Act. This legislation takes a number of common sense steps to protect families and businesses in Virginia from harm brought on by the regulations.
First, this legislation prohibits our state from submitting or implementing a State Implementation Plan until the legal questions surrounding the new rules are resolved. This will prevent Virginia from wasting precious resources until EPA’s legal authority is clear. Second, it would empower state legislatures, who are accountable to the people, to approve or deny the state implementation plan before it is submitted to the EPA. Lastly, it includes several provisions that instruct the state agencies developing the plans to ensure that it will protect the affordability and reliability of the state electricity system for its citizens.
This legislation also enjoys broad support from conservative organizations. AFP is proud to lead a large coalition of organizations in supporting the the RASP Act, which is online here.
I urge you and your colleagues to support this important legislation and protect Virginia families from the harmful impact of these new proposed EPA rules. I look forward to working with you over this upcoming session.
Thanks to the state's budget deficit, Virginia may finally scale way back a notorious fossil fuel subsidy that currently transfers tens of millions of dollars annually from taxpayers to the pockets of corporations that mine Virginia coal. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that if Governor McAuliffe has his way, the Virginia Coal Employment and Production Incentive Tax Credit and the Coalfield Employment Enhancement Tax Credit will be limited to $500,000 per year, saving the government $20 million per year.
The refundable tax credits were intended to make Virginia coal cheaper for utilities to buy, and thus more competitive with coal mined in other states. In theory, that was supposed to mean more coal mining jobs in southwest Virginia. In practice, the subsidies meant some coal companies paid no state taxes, and actually received significant cash handouts, even as coal jobs declined. And because the subsidies are based on tons of coal mined and not on the number of people employed, mining companies suffered no penalty from capital investments that maximized production while cutting jobs.
Critics of the subsidies thought they had won their point three years ago when the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) issued a critique of the various Virginia tax credits that was especially critical of the handouts to coal companies. As it describes beginning on page 67, the subsidies did not stop coal employment from falling 54% since 1990, or slow the steady decline in production:
Joe Morrissey - No member of the Virginia House of Delegates dating back to the House of Burgesses has ever been forced to resign. No case or constitutional precedent. However, because of the respect he has for this institution and desire not to be a distraction, he has a few moments ago tendered his resignation as a delegate to the Clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates, effective January 13, 2015. A special election will, not coincidentally, be held on that same date - January 13, 2015. Morrissey then announces his candidacy for the special election! "It's the voters who must decide...right now there is a bit of a cloud or a taint" over my seat. Morrissey says he will seek the Democratic nomination - firehouse primary, convention, whatever process is set, he'll abide by them.
My god, Virginia's Attorney General has to waste his time on crap like this? On the other hand, I suppose in a warped way that "Sideshow Bob" Marshall continues to provide invaluable entertainment, in a freak show sorta way, for Virginia. And that's gotta be worth something, ya know? :)
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