I bash the Washington (aka, “Kaplan”) Post a lot, and for good reason, but I think it’s only fair to praise great reporting if and when I see it. Well, over the past few weeks, we’ve definitely been seeing it, courtesy of Post national (formerly Virginia) political reporter Rosalind S. Helderman – with the assistance of her colleague Laura Vozella. This, in short, is what real journalism is all about. It’s also why we badly need a strong press corps that shines a bright light on the under-the-slimy-rock stuff going on in state and local politics.
In this case, it’s the sordid case of Star Scientific (maker of “tobacco candy,” among other fine products), its Chief Executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Governor Bob McDonnell (note: check out Schapiro: The perils of hanging out with cool kids), and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Now, we can add in a related scandal involving former governor’s chef Todd Schneider and his serious allegations of big-time theft from the governor’s mansion by members of the McDonnell family. The latter scandal also links up with the first scandal, in that Schneider “catered the mansion wedding [of Bob McDonnell’s daughter] through a private catering company he owned while working as the governor’s chef.” That wedding reception, as we now know – thanks in large part to Helderman’s and Vozella’s excellent reporting – was partially paid for by McDonnell’s and Cuccinelli’s good friend Jonnnie R. Williams Sr., the aforementioned Star Scientific slimeball.
So, three questions: 1) how big is this scandal going to get, and how damaging will it be to McDonnell and Cuccinelli?; 2) when are McDonnell and Cuccinelli going to resign in disgrace?; and 3) when are the next major journalistic awards being awarded, and how many of them will Helderman win?
P.S. Several of the key stories in this sordid tale are as follows.
Cuccinelli seeks recusal from chef case
Donor gave McDonnell and family a lake-house vacation
New documents raise more questions about financing of McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding
Star Scientific had to return Va. money from economic development project
Cuccinelli will appoint outside counsel for suit involving firm he owns stock in
Va. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s disclosure of stock holdings was delayed
Va. Gov. McDonnell on two-way street with chief executive of struggling company
P.P.S. Speaking of excellent Virginia political reporters, I encourage everyone to vote for Julian Walker of the Virginian Pilot and Rosalind Helderman of the Post in Chris “The Fix” Cillizza’s “best state-based political reporters” contest.