Cooch’s Assault on “A Thousand Points of Light”


    Attorney General Cuccinelli’s decision to ban all payments to nonprofit organizations speaks volumes about the current state of the right wing in America. From the elder George Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” campaign 20 years ago to promote charities as an alternative to excessive government, we have now come to the point where conservatives don’t even want to support a strong non-profit sector. No, they don’t want anything to protect the vulnerable from the gale force of the marketplace, which must operate unfettered, unopposed and unquestioned.

    Cooch may well be right about the plain language of the Virginia Constitution not authorizing payments to NGOs.  And if indeed this question was raised by a constituent who didn’t want his tax dollars going to a conservative blog, Tertium Quids, then I have to agree that state money should not support blogs — and as a front-pager at Blue Virginia, I would not support accepting any state funds whatsoever, as it would create the impression that we are simply government stooges.

    But most NGOs that receive state money are truly charitable, for purposes such as family services, the Special Olympics, and helping children correct facial deformities (plus some tourist activities with economic development benefits).  Now just think about what Cooch’s desire to cut off funding to these groups says about his priorities.  

    It is, in fact, consistent with his actions on other issues, which invariably favor the powerful over the powerless. He sues the Federal government to prevent it from expanding access to health care. He attacks the EPA and U-VA to call into question climate change research that could hurt the share prices of coal and oil companies. He tells universities that they can’t ban discrimination against gays.

    In every case, his priority is to use government to protect the privileged — especially corporate America — from scrutiny and regulation. And if ordinary people have to suffer in the process, then oh well.

    The great irony here is that Cooch’s agenda is the exact opposite of that laid out by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  The poor, the meek, the merciful, it seems, are no longer blessed, nor are good works to help them of value.  Rather our mission here, as revealed by Saint Cooch, is to clear out all this human debris that stands in the way of the wealthy and advantaged — those who, as Jesus put it, “store up for [them]selves treasures on earth”.  

    Too bad for those among us who need our help. They won’t get it in a world run by conservatives like Cooch.  

    • Dan Sullivan

      I hear what you are saying about the conservative flip-flop, but have never been comfortable with the whole 1000 points of light concept. It simply opens the door to abuse.

      On the other hand, if an NGO/PVO can competitively execute a service that government should provide, there is no reason in the world that it shouldn’t have a seat at the table.  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Since A.E. Dick Howard, who headed the commission that wrote the draft of the modern state constitution, said that the committee considered lifting the prohibition and decided to keep it “to save the General Assembly from themselves,” there seems to be only one recourse:

      Draft a change to the constitution and see if it makes it through the General Assembly and a referendum.

      I hate to say that Cooch got anything right, but the language of the constitution is plain as day. The only questions remaining would, it seems to me, to revolve around exactly what is a private nonprofit and what is a nonprofit “contracted,” as it were, to perform a service that the state wanted to offer without setting up a bureaucracy. A perfect example would be the Northern Virginia Family Services.

    • Mike1987

      I tend (to my horror here) agree with the AG.  Government money always comes with government requirements.  There is just too cozy relationship between right wing christianists and the Government now.  I pay taxes so that the Government then gives to a church who advocates my death because I’m gay? I don’t fricken think so.  These are always abused and right now, right wingers have a virtual lock on government cash (cheese). End it. End it now.

    • For several years after retiring from the Army,I was exec director of a non-profit that worked in WV and VA, repairing and building houses for low- and very-low income folks.

      In VA, we were able to access money from VHDA — Virginia Housing Development Authority — to subsidize mortgages for those who qualified.  Most of this was HUD money that passed through VHDA.

      Anyone know if Cooch’s attack on the poor includes killing their hopes of ever owning a home — or of getting a new roof on the hovel they now live in?

    • Will anyone be surprised if Cooch and Pat Robertson — ooopss, meant to say “Bob McDonnell” —  quietly carve out an exception for Christian charities, especially those that operate “Christian schools?”

    • In the Washington Post, Sen. Janet Howell says, “I think the attorney general’s opinion is often irrelevant, and it is in this instance. I don’t think his opinion will have any impact. This will be decided by the courts.”

    • cvllelaw

      and Ken Cuccinelli is right on this one.  The language IS quite clear.

      Cuccinelli’s opinion is also right, it seems to me, in saying that the General Assembly may appropriate money to be spent for goods and services, and that the Executive Branch could then spend that money with NGO’s if the NGO’s are competitive.  So if the $500,000 now targeted for “Operation Smile” is appropriated for the State Health Department for providing surgery to children with facial deformities, “Operation Smile” could file with the Health Department an application to be awarded some or all of that grant, perhaps in competition with Dr. Jones’ Plastic Surgery Clinic.  They’d probably win any competitive grant, because they aren’t seeking a profit.