In today’s spend-heavy era of American politics, it’s admittedly difficult for political candidates to fund their campaigns and their hopes for elected office without reaching far and wide for political handouts. Perhaps now more than ever the question becomes, is it appropriate for a political candidate to take money from groups or individuals that have diametrically opposed interests to at least a segment of the potential or actual constituency of the said candidate?
For Virginia’s attorney general, and Republican Party candidate for Virginia governor, Ken Cuccinelli, the answer has unequivocally been, “Yes, I’ll take campaign donations just about anyone who offers it.” And so the plot thickens.
When asked by an attendee of Cuccinelli’s campaign stop at the Hotel Roanoke on Friday whether or not he felt it was acceptable to take campaign donations from Consol, Virginia’s attorney general responded, “Well I need a lot more donations. My opponent is outspending me like 2:1.” In other words, Cuccinelli’s argument is that he’s in this ‘contest’ to win, not to necessarily worry about the ethical implications of his behaviors.
Never one to shy away from pointing the finger or casting blame, Cuccinelli went on to lament the intense focus voters have had over Cuccinelli’s ruling in the mineral rights royalties case that sent a bill passed without opposition in the General Assembly into the dustbin of legislative history, a bill that would have sped up mineral royalty payments to Virginia landowners.
According to The Roanoke Times, “Cuccinelli’s office later intervened to support energy companies in court when landowners, frustrated by the failure of the bill to free up royalties, started suing for their royalties.” Indeed, it’s a complete mystery as to why this issue has received so much attention!
What Cuccinelli essentially did was repudiate the will of the people (i.e., the Virginia General Assembly) to the clear advantage of energy companies seeking to extract more energy from Virginia’s landowners without royalty payments. And this, too, from a candidate who has attempted to brand himself as a ‘man of the people’.
The problem with Cuccinelli is not so much that he is an extremist (although this is certainly an issue). The problem with Cuccinelli is that he can’t be trusted to properly represent the interests of Virginians. As Cuccinelli hinted at in the quote above, the end is the most important outcome of his campaign, not the means. But it is the means which define a political candidate while they are in office, whether they will be beholden to parochial and adverse special interests, or whether they will be true representatives of the people who elected them into office.
The Cuccinelli’s of the political world will never understand this: what you do to get into office is just as important as what you do while in office. This, among many reasons, is why Cuccinelli doesn’t deserve to be Virginia’s next governor.