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Bob McDonnell

New Ethics Law: Loophole Piled on Loophole

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 20:58:15 PM EDT

I thoroughly enjoyed today's column in the Roanoke Times by that curmudgeon, columnist Dan Casey, whose writing is the best thing about the Times these days. Casey discussed something that should be reported by every media outlet in the state as part of the coverage of the gross embarrassment that is the Bob and Maureen McDonnell trial. Casey decided to tackle one simple question: Could another state office holder cause another corrupt mess like this one, while supposedly following the new 2014 Virginia ethics law? His answer, after reading the entire text of the new "ethics law," is a resounding, "Yes." As Casey stated, the new law has so many loopholes that a person could "drive trucks of Rolexes right through them."

Item by item, Casey shows how all the stuff that Bob and Maureen McDonnell got as the "quid" part of their quid pro quo would be perfectly legal under the empty law the General Assembly had the gall to pass in the last session. For example:

The $6,500 Rolex watch? While the new law forbids tangible gifts worth more than $250, the limitation applies only to lobbyists or businesspeople doing business with the state. Jonnie Williams was neither at the time. He just wanted McDonnell to use the influence Bob and Maureen were happy to peddle to promote his dubious product, a health supplement made from tobacco.  There's another loophole in the law for unlimited gifts from "personal friends," so all Bob McDonnell would have had to do was to say that Williams was his buddy. (By the way, that was part of the defense at the trial. The catch there was the testimony of Williams that the whole relationship was strictly "business as usual.")

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Cry for Maureen, Virginia

by: Dan Sullivan

Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 09:38:08 AM EDT

All in the Family photo firstFamily_zps5fb5cc0c.jpgEventually there'll be a lesson from the McDonnell trial. For now, though, the revelation is how easily polished politicians can embrace and superimpose parallax and conflicting images without challenge. What we see depends upon where we stand. We too often choose the view that eliminates the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

You might recall that Bob fashioned himself as a friend of business; the "Jobs Governor." Now that it is convenient, he feigns disinterest in the details of business and investment. Even Jonnie Williams recalls an investment proposal putting the Governor to sleep during a plane ride. Many remark that it is a shame that such a fine man finds himself in this situation and look for someone to blame. Maureen is a convenient straw-woman; for them and for Bob's attorneys. Some say that he is so bright that it is surprising that he was taken in by a snake oil salesman. Others believe that he was simply too trusting. This reflects a public persona that he cultivated along a path of retrofitted accomplishments and, as it turns out, malleable, maybe even bankrupt, fundamental values.

Bob was born with the gift of physical charisma; aka good looks. Many people rely on that gift to advance themselves. If you've got it, flaunt it, so they say. But when there is not sufficient desire to develop internally yet personally ambitious, the alternative to interpersonal and intellectual development is building socio-pathological, manipulative skills. Bob McDonnell's accomplishments were singularly adequate and hardly distinguished but sufficient to pass as achievement among a close knit group of Virginia Beach, then statewide sycophants.  

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Virginia Republicans Seem Determined to Foil the Future

by: Dan Sullivan

Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 19:00:05 PM EDT

It isn't just Medicaid expansion that has been obstructed by "conservatives." As Staunton School Board member Joel Grogan points out, the new state budget sets funding for schools at pre-2009 levels. The economic impact of this epic legislative failure washes over the future of Virginia. This is McDonnell's leadership legacy.

Whether GOP legislators want to believe it or not, Virginia education is already in crisis. Grogan discussed the departure of Waynesboro High School Teacher of the Year Josh Waldron. After six years of teaching, this accomplished young man is taking home only $100 a month more than when he started.

"The job, though, is about much more. And I have very real concerns about the sustainability of public education in Waynesboro (and as a whole)." - Josh Waldron in his personal blog

Grogan wishes that the organization that represents school board issues hadn't shied away from the Medicaid expansion issue. He was told that they had to stay away from it because the organization is nonpartisan. But this, he says, is not a political issue; it's a moral issue and an economic issue. He argues it is a myth that this is a political issue, pointing out that there are about a dozen states with Republican Governors and legislatures that have either found a way to expand Medicaid or are on the way to it. Even in Virginia, a traditionally conservative organization, the State Chamber of Commerce, favors expansion, proving it isn't a left and right issue. This expansion will create 33,000 jobs.

At least Staunton's Republican state Senator, Emmett Hanger, has broken ranks to plow a path toward a special session that can consider expansion. That means that the battle is not over. Grogan calls for remaining positive and holding our delegates' feet to the fire on this issue.

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Virginia's Budget Fiasco

by: Dan Sullivan

Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:47:14 PM EDT

Virginia Capitol photo VirginiaCapitol_zpsb9f9ab7f.jpgThe news that there will be a budget shortfall should be no surprise. It was predictable and may be the real reason Republicans are pitching such a hissy over Medicaid: they need a smokescreen for their complicity in the McDonnell subterfuge. But it may be worse than at first blush.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal provided pessimistic reports regarding state and local government projected revenues from personal income taxes. This was followed by a column by Richard Ravitch that outlined an indictment of fiscal malfeasance across the country. Almost every example he provided should send a chill down our spines. It was as though he was focused on the McDonnell years in our state but there are cases in our local jurisdictions where you find the trail toward insolvency too. Unfortunately, Democrats are not squeaky clean.

Sounding the alarm, Ravitch asks aloud whether the current woes are cyclical or structural. Are they tied to the financial collapse of 2008 or are they the result of legislation that fails to safeguard sound fiscal practice?

Ravitch outlines the common practice of making contributions to employee pension funds that are insufficient to meet contractual and/or constitutional guarantees..."sometimes contributions are not made at all for years at a time." Everyone involved has an incentive to keep contributions low because the alternative is risk underfunding or face layoffs and/or benefit reductions.

The first and most apparent manifestation of trouble in Virginia is in the Virginia Retirement System. McDonnell and his comrades crafted a complicated fraud on Virginians and our employees. He even claimed that he had resolved the issue of unfunded obligations. That is a lie that will return to haunt.

"Some payments to pension funds are made with promissory notes rather than cash...borrowing to cover operating deficits." - Ravitch

If state employees had adequate representation, by that meaning a union, the issue might had been adequately addressed. Instead, McDonnell was able to write a ten year mortgage that will never be adequately repaid while continuing to pile up unfunded obligations for the system. Yes, eventually there was another lie perpetrated concerning employee contributions that established a basis for claiming resolution; this single malfeasance may be enough to eventually bankrupt the state, but it pales in comparison with inadequately funding Medicaid which is the largest obligation in almost every state.  

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Build Bob An Alibi Session Ends Today

by: Dan Sullivan

Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 10:20:09 AM EST

John Brownlee and friend photo 140308Brownlee_zpsba8626b7.jpg It could have been about mental health or affordable care, but this General Assembly session accomplished favors for the former Governor and itself. John L. Brownlee must be silently gloating. His client will benefit from what turns out is the real Virginia Way. To heck with becoming Attorney General.

What the General Assembly accomplished was to provide tacit approval of almost every unethical act Bob McDonnell, or any one of themselves, committed, ever. Mr. Brownlee, a former U.S. attorney, is a more than competent lawyer and he appreciates that the omission of specific restrictions from the "ethics bill" allows him to argue that those activities are condoned.

Some may not remember, but Bob McDonnell's attorney aspired to statewide office. He was cut off at the knees by Ken Cuccinelli, a centrist by comparison. Turns out it is better to have lost and lived to join a very good law firm than to have won and become such a pariah that the only way to earn a living is to bleed the paranoid. It's unfortunate that we'll never know if Brownlee had the stuff to tango with Jonnie Williams. What we do know is that his defense of McDonnell will be that nothing McDonnell did was unethical, at least anything he is charged with, or it would have been included in the ethics bill passed by legislators with the benefit of hindsight.

What is even more unfortunate is that politicians that take advantage of the Virginia Way to fatten their wallets (or purchase personal automobiles with campaign contributions) will continue to thrive. Frankly, there's no luxury like that of candidates willing to subsidize their lifestyle with campaign funds that the state of Virginia treats as their own. And if elected to office, why hire a staff when no one can be more valuable on your staff than yourself? Where's any reasonable standard for behavior, path for remedy, or process to enforce/punish?

So, bravo General Assembly, you may have made John L. Brownlee's case winnable.  

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Bob's for Jobs Never Put Up OR Shut Up

by: Dan Sullivan

Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 09:59:10 AM EST

Wallops Island photo Wallopslaunch_small_zps7ba6a5df.jpgWhile riding the good fortune of geographic proximity to Washington, McDonnell never brought a single advanced industry employer to Virginia but was proud to take credit for every job at any new convenience store. Now it is Governor McAuliffe's turn to show that jobs aren't just a campaign talking point.

The kinds of jobs that mean something are those that will employ the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers we hear about from every politician who wants to sound like an higher education proponent. These are in industries, manufacturing and services, which pay well and contribute significantly to the GDP because they have a multiplier effect. They have supply chains that stimulate local economies by leveraging opportunities from the benefit of shorter lines of communications.

"They send you to new governors school when you are elected. We're standing outside talking ... so what'd you run on? ... We all kind of, after a while, sheepishly admitted we were going to be the jobs governor. And we realized that all thirty plus new governors at that point in time were going to be the jobs governor. The point of that is that it is a very competitive world out there." - Governor Bill Haslam (TN) speaking at the Brookings Institute
Possibly the clumsiest McDonnell attempt to weigh into advanced industry focused on Wallops Island. During his campaign for Governor he pledged a tenfold boost in state funding for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and proposed space tourism as a natural tie-in. His only tangible legislative achievement was an initiative that amounted to a frequent flyer program for well-heeled space travelers. No miles have been accumulated in any individual account just yet.
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Same-Sex Couples Aren't the Only Ones Injured

by: Dan Sullivan

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 07:36:01 AM EST

 photo RS_Same_Sex_Marriage_zpsc0c8c064.jpg The litigants in Norfolk are same-sex couples, but in the end the discrimination will result in inequitable application of the law that places many opposite-sex couples at a financial disadvantage. Such will be the consequence of the twisted effort by Virginia homophobes to socially engineer human behavior by unconstitutional edict.

For all the whining about Attorney General Herring's position regarding defense of a patently unconstitutional scar on the Virginia Constitution, he never mitigated enforcement. Not one single same-sex couple has been issued a marriage license in Virginia while we wait for the law to be struck. The opinions of both his predecessors regarding the effects of the law remain in force; for now. But consider this. When the marriages of same-sex couples are inevitably recognized in Virginia, those couples will have an option that other married couples will not: filing their Virginia income tax returns with the most advantageous filing status.

Based upon an opinion by then Attorney General McDonnell and guidance from former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Department of Taxation does not allow same-sex married couples to file joint income tax returns even though they must use the status on their federal tax returns. Everyone else must. What was (and currently remains) an undue burden on same-sex couples (the requirement to construct fictional federal income tax returns to calculate Virginia income taxes) transforms to an advantage; consistent with federal policy after the Supreme Court DOMA decision, married same-sex couples will likely be allowed to choose the filing status that is to their advantage for the years when they were prohibited from using a married filing status.

So my advice to Virginia's married same-sex couples: if filing using a status other than married is to your tax advantage, file this year's return soon, before the stay on yesterday's ruling is removed; after that, you'll be like everyone else. Then for the three years prior to this, recalculate your Virginia tax returns to determine if you should file amendments, in the same way you should have with your federal returns last year. How the Department of Taxation will handle these amendments could be a bit more complicated, so stand by for guidance.

For other married couples, you just won't have equal treatment under the law. You might want to send the bill to Senators Marshall and Newman who spearheaded the amendment or those George Allen strategists who supported it in an underhanded effort to save his bacon.

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Gift Loopholes Big Enough For A McDonnell Sized Scandal

by: ProgressVA

Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:36:19 AM EST

Yesterday afternoon, federal prosecutors indicted Bob and Maureen McDonnell on charges stemming from the Star Scientific gift scandal. These charges only underscore the need for real ethics reform in Richmond. This morning, ProgressVA Education Fund released a new report examining how effective proposed ethics reform legislation would be. The bottom line?

Thanks to massive loopholes, the leading ethics reform proposal (HB1211) would not have banned a single gift in 2012.

The need for real ethics reform legislation has only been amplified by former Governor McDonnell's gift scandal and yesterday's indictment. The House of Delegates will begin considering ethics reform bills this afternoon and the Senate will act soon. It's vital you contact your representatives now and tell them ethics reform that leaves out the reform is unacceptable.

Demand real ethics reform from your representatives now!

Key findings from ProgressVA Education Fund's report are listed below the fold.

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Bob McDonnell: Four Years of Failure (Part 2 - Environment)

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM EST

Yesterday, I posted Bob McDonnell: Four Years of Failure (Part 1 - Energy). Today, I turn to Part 2 - Virginia's Environment. Again, let's start with what Bob McDonnell promised in his 2009 campaign, and compare it to the results - or lack thereof - he's accomplished (or not) since he became governor.

1. "He is committed to protecting our environment using innovative technology, pollution prevention programs and holding polluters accountable."
To put it mildly, none of that happened. Instead, we had Bob McDonnell continuing to let polluters -  for instance, mountaintop removal coal miners - run amok in Virginia. No significant pollution prevention programs were enacted in McDonnell's governorship, but his Attorney General did manage to fight many efforts to protect the environment. In 2012, McDonnell made matters even worse by signing legislation aimed at "support{ing} Virginia's coal industry by promoting tax credits for coal industry jobs in southwest Virginia." But McDonnell's efforts to rape and pillage our environment didn't end there; in July 2012 he wrote a letter "to express serious concerns with, and strong objection to, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) proposed rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands." McDonnell has even supported "the natural gas companies and their desire to frack our national forest." And, of course, McDonnell is a big fan of offshore oil drilling, which is a disaster waiting to happen environmentally, while it threatens Virginia's vital tourism industry and U.S. Navy operations off the coast of the Hampton Roads area. #FAIL all around.

2. "Protect the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's Watersheds"
Let's start with the fact that the Virginia Sierra Club gave McDonnell an "F" for "fail{ing} to protect the Bay from agricultural runoff, from storm water runoff and sewage pollution, and failed to provide the jobs and economic growth that come from protecting the Bay." In fact, the Virginia Sierra Club pointed out, "The only accomplishment {McDonnell} has is his giveaways to polluters." On the other hand, Environment Virginia reports that "after mobilizing public support, we were able to convince Gov. Bob McDonnell and the EPA to compose a promising new plan to clean the Bay and cut pollution back to safe levels by 2020." However, Environment Virginia added an important caveat, that "the restoration plan can only work if Gov. McDonnell stands strong and enforces the new rules." Meanwhile, Environment Virginia points out that the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates rejected a bill that "would have been a significant step in reducing the waste that enters Virginia's rivers, lakes and streams" by putting "a 5 cent tax on each plastic bag used at grocery and convenience stores, as well as pharmacies." What exactly did Bob McDonnell do to fight for this bill? Well, there was...uh...and...uh. Oh forget it. Finally, we should point out that Bob McDonnell loves to take credit for things he had little, if anything, to do with - whether it's the economic "stimulus" that helped Virginia's economy recover from the "Great Recession," or the rebound in Chesapeake Bay oyster populations, based on programs that were begun years ago (also note that "[s]ome biologists say the slow uptick in the harvest in both states is hardly enough to save the oyster"). Other than that, heckuva job Bob!

3. "Preserve 400,000 new acres of open space"
Even according to Republican-friendly PolitiFact, Bob McDonnell broke his promise on this one. The bottom line: "McDonnell, with less than two months remaining to his governorship, is not even halfway to filling his 400,000-acre preservation vow," having "protected 164,433 acres through Sept. 16." #FAIL

4. "Establish Virginia as a "Green Jobs Zone" to encourage renewable energy technologies"
We covered this in our previous post, on McDonnell's energy policy failures. In short, it  didn't happen, except perhaps at an extremely minimal level that won't make any significant difference to Virginia's energy or environmental future.

The bottom line: when it comes to the environment, Bob McDonnell made some promises that sounded good on the surface, but then didn't do much if anything about them. The cynical among us would probably argue that McDonnell was never serious about any of this stuff in the first place, that it was put out in the 2009 campaign as part of his strategy to portray himself as a "moderate." Well, now we see the results - or lack thereof - and it confirms every bit of cynicism we ever had. Next time a Republican candidate promises to protect the environment, just remember Bob McDonnell's pathetic record of pandering to polluters, and take those "promises" for what they're worth - nothing.

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Bob McDonnell must resign his post as governor of Virginia amid new evidence of his guilt

by: Progressive86

Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 15:11:17 PM EDT

Cross-posted from that paragon of journalism and reporting Richmond Progressive Examiner.

Virginia's blue-eyed, unmanned aerial drone loving governor, Bob McDonnell, lost any justification for remaining in office after the most recent revelation that he knew about financial assistance and gifts provided by Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Star Scientifics' CEO. Prior to this 'discovery', McDonnell's defense lawyers argued to federal prosecutors that Virginia's staggering governor had been "kept in the dark" about the gifts given to his family by Williams.

Now, however, Bob McDonnell has no room to defend himself on the grounds of ignorance regarding the gifts his family received from Star Scientifics' CEO. The Washington Post gives one example: "McDonnell (R) was present at a charity auction in 2011 when the chief executive of Star Scientific, which makes a dietary supplement, successfully bid on a fashion tour of New York for the governor's wife in front of a crowd of onlookers, witnesses said."

With McDonnell's most clever defense now in the gutter, it's difficult to imagine how the governor can reason his way into staying on as Virginia's chief executive. Not only would McDonnell's resignation spare the people of Virginia any further embarrassment, it may also spare Bob McDonnell from some of the public scrutiny that will surely befall him if he remains Virginia's governor.  

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Cashing in on McDonnell's "Forgive Us Our Trespasses Tour"

by: Dan Sullivan

Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 21:30:22 PM EDT

 photo 130826RestorationFund_zps48481966.jpgBob McDonnell spent a week travelling the Commonwealth making 22 stops reminiscing about and claiming credit for all things positive during his term in office. At least one member of his administration was also dispatched to a partisan event in Virginia Beach. Were these also ethics lapses?  

In an E-mail sent out last Friday by the Restoration Fund, a relatively new organization formed just before his journey to "help cover legal expenses arising out of the Governor's service in office" and to defend his record in office against attack, the tour was the centerpiece. So it begs the question: was the tour a public relations campaign to raise money for his legal defense or a bona fide effort to connect with his constituents?

And since when is it proper to dispatch a state administrator to address a partisan gathering with the message: "How Governor McDonnell made Virginia the Energy Capitol of the East Coast." The prospect of this revelation was too much to pass up, so I wrote the Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach to ask if I could video the event. Chairman Longo responded that he would have to contact the speaker, Cathie France, Deputy Director, Energy Policy, Virginia Department Mines, Minerals, & Energy. But wait, maybe she wasn't acting as advertised, for yesterday Williams Mullins announced she would enter their employ effective 9 September joining the firm's State Government Relations practice. After the fact, Chairman Longo let me know that he never got permission. No wonder. But I digress.

Everything this Governor and his administration does merits close scrutiny. If not for the ethics challenges, at least for the entertainment value. But the bonus with this new scheme to raise money is that as a political organization under section 527(e)(1), the Virginia Public Access Project will broadcast to the world the list of donors who have made it clear that ethics in government matter not a whit to them.

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Corruption Is a Crime!

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 19:33:24 PM EDT

If we are ever to clean up Virginia politics, we need to get one thing straight: Taking thinly disguised bribes and calling them "gifts" or "in-kind political contributions" from people with serious business before the state is a crime and should be treated as such. When the shake-down first couple of Virginia, Bob and Maureen McDonnell, got Jonnie Williams to pay for their daughter's wedding reception, for the Guv's Rolex watch, for Maureen's shopping trip to the Big Apple, for "loans" to bail out McDonnell's real estate deals at the same time that Williams' company was fighting a tax case with the state was downright criminal - as was Ken Cuccinelli cozying up to Williams during the same period, enjoying vacation homes and Thanksgiving dinners.

Today, corruption is not treated as the crime it is. If the local school board is corrupt and takes a kickback to give the contract for a new school to a favored builder, that is stealing from the taxpayers. When legislators who have the power to approve or not approve uranium mining in Virginia accept a vacation in France disguised as a "fact-finding trip," they're stealing the one thing that they should hold precious: the right to represent their constituents, the reason they hold the offices they occupy. If Ken Cuccinelli sends an underling to "discuss" with gas and oil companies dealings with landowners who have filed a civil suit trying to get their royalty money from said companies, he is stealing from those people their fair chance to be heard in court without interference from legal representatives drawing their paychecks because voters trusted them to be fair and honest.

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A Happy Ending to the Star Scientific Affair

by: Dan Sullivan

Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 12:14:57 PM EDT

Star Scientific molecule photo 130825Anatabloc_zps34c14168.jpgIt is actually quite simple. Maureen could leave Bob for Jonnie. Ken could become ordained in a ministry that can deny the Pope's authority and wisdom, become confessor to Maureen and Jonnie, then preside over their nuptials. Bob could wash his hands of the entire affair. Done, done, and done.

It has been there all along. As the "facts" ooze forth it becomes more and more apparent, if you accept their versions, that Maureen and Jonnie are close confidants who have mingled their treasure with the pleasure of their company; already as close to marriage as it gets. If you are to believe their stories it seems they share more than Bob and Maureen have with each other of late. The kids are grown and out of the house, after all. Ken Cuccinelli benefitted from their association and must know more than he reveals. Bob just seems challenged to recognize any form of impropriety and, keeping those blinders properly fitted, can rationalize just about anything life throws at him.

Think of the benefits they accrue. Neither Ken nor Maureen nor Jonnie can be forced to testify against the other. Ken can jettison any Roman Catholic values he finds inconvenient and, to the benefit of running mate E. J. Jackson, dismiss Pope Francis's remark that "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" As for Bob, well beyond the fact he has established he knows nothing about his wife's financial affairs, we have come to learn that all that time at Notre Dame and Regent University did little to orient his moral compass; it remains, it seems, pointing in one self-serving direction.

Having already proven they are unperturbed standing in this swill, trading places shouldn't bother them in the least.  

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Can Any Virginia Republicans Stand Cuccinelli?

by: kindler

Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 11:13:37 AM EDT

The people in politics and government who know Cuccinelli best are his fellow Republicans.  How intensely do they dislike him?  Let me count the ways:  

Exhibit A: Bob vs. Ken: Last week, Bob McDonnell announced that he's going to spend the next week touring the state, touting his accomplishments -- essentially campaigning for himself rather than Cuccinelli, his party's choice to succeed him.  Anyone else find that a little odd?

Not that McDonnell's endorsement would be worth that much these days anyway.  But by the same token, having him on the road across the state is just one more distraction from Cuccinelli's own campaign.

The two of them are basically taking turns trying to throw each other under the bus --
Cuccinelli trying to erase the smell of the Jonnie Williams Star-gate scandal by calling for a special session of the General Assembly to enact a gift ban -- which McDonnell rejected; and McDonnell blaming Cuccinelli for the cost of his attorneys, appointed after Cuccinelli, having enjoyed his own gifts from Jonnie, recused himself.  

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The case of Virginia's First Lady, clothing, PACs, and…Wendy Davis?

by: Progressive86

Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 14:32:53 PM EDT

Imagine for a moment the reaction many Americans would have if it was reported Michelle Obama raided her husband's Political Action Committee (PAC) in order to purchase clothing and "unspecified items." There would be a conservative media lynching (and yes, I use these words in full awareness of the historical significance of lynching certain segments of the U.S. population in our country).

For Maureen McDonnell, who according to the Washington Post "bought nearly $9,800 in clothing with money from her husband's political action committee and tapped into his campaign and inaugural funds to buy $7,600 in mostly unspecified items, according to records and a representative for the PAC," there seems to be little more than faint grumbles from Virginia's electorate, as if this were expected or not such a big deal.

Fellow Virginians, it is a big deal because it adds to a growing portrait of a governor and his wife who freely spent donated money and gladly took political donors up on lucrative 'favors' such as stays at plush vacation homes. It is indeed good to be the king.  

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Confusing Facts: Ken Cuccinelli and Julian Walker

by: Dan Sullivan

Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 16:33:30 PM EDT

 photo 130718USMCflag_zpsf0c2c7fb.jpgThe Virginian Pilot article about Ken Cuccinelli's military service is at the same time a cheap shot and of no significance other than to point out both Julian Walker and Ken should check their facts before going public. The sadder part is that this opens Walker's veracity to criticism.

The real story here: shoddy use of facts by both parties. This has become a common theme regarding all reporting about the military. In my lifetime public perceptions of the military and veterans have swung from the post-Vietnam low point of near-disdain to the post-First Gulf War ascendency to near iconic perfection. While the perception is headed back toward the more accurate middle, the status as a veteran retains its luster...for now.

Maybe that is what Ken was reaching for when he allowed reference to his military service as part of his life vitae. But that invited scrutiny of the story he wove. Unfortunately, when filling the voids in this story, Julian Walker (who very well may have been fished this fable and is now regretting the regard he conferred a veteran and attorney) did not effectively fact check. Or, maybe he tried to contact someone like David Ashe, a reserve Marine Corps Judge Advocate and local Virginia Beach attorney and Ashe deferred. (I would call David, but I choose not to put him on the spot.)

You can read below the fold for the why, but in the end, I assure you that both Cuccinelli and Walker stretched the facts for their own purposes. It reflects more on Cuccinelli who has demonstrated time and again he sees the world through a self-serving lens yet claims to deserve our trust. But, shame on Julian Walker and the Pilot just the same.

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The Cooch Who Stole Ethics

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 16:16:05 PM EDT

Because Ken Cuccinelli failed to report his ownership of stock in Star Scientific in a timely way and also failed to report thousands of dollars worth of gifts he received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, people have raised questions  about whether he followed the  conflict of interest rules of professional conduct set forth by the Virginia State Bar, which states, "[a] lawyer shall not accept employment if the exercise of his professional judgment on behalf of his client may be affected by his own financial, business, property, or personal interests, except with the consent of his client after full and adequate disclosure under the circumstances."

Cuccinelli is the elected lawyer representing the State of Virginia. The question becomes, "Can Cuccinelli represent his client (Virginia) while he owns stock in Star Scientific, the company being sued by his client (Virginia) for failure to pay taxes owed by Star Scientific, when he failed to disclose his ownership stake in Star Scientific in a timely fashion?"

The whole scandal is made even worse because the attorney general's office is the vehicle that would give Virginia's consent to his representing it. In other words, until he recused his office from the tax case because of public pressure, he was able to give himself consent to stay on the case! It's the potential for blatant corruption like this that caused even ethically-devoid Bob McDonnell to resign as attorney general when he accepted the Republican nomination to run for governor. We don't yet know exactly what the FBI may be investigating concerning Star Scientific, Bob McDonnell, and Ken Cuccinelli. However, this we know. No matter how his actions get white-washed or played down, Cuccinelli has shown himself to be a man without professional ethics.

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Stargate: Scandal of the Year

by: kindler

Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 21:33:03 PM EDT

It's been a tough stretch for us scandal connoisseurs lately. We've had to settle for a lot of pretty lame pseudo-scandals -- Umbrella-gate, Climategate, IRS, Benghazi, birth certificate-gate, etc. -- which have mostly turned out to be figments of fevered tea party imaginations.  

So I want to thank Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli for giving us a real live one -- Stargate, the continuing saga of Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams' herculean efforts to buy himself a few politicians.  Day by day, the revelations keep on coming about the gifts Williams showered on his politician buddies and their convenient ability to forget to report those gifts.

Stargate has now developed all the qualities of a great scandal -- and like the Blob, it just keeps on growing.  Consider the scandal checklist:

- Salacious items: Rolex, Ferrari, limos, dog food, tobacco-based supplements...
- Drumbeat: new tidbits leaking out every week (thanks to Rosalind Helderman and her coworkers at the WaPo for sticking to this story like bloodhounds)
- Denials: McDonnell: "I...am not a crook." (Makes V for victory sign with fingers); Cuccinelli: "Actually, I'm the hero who got all the investigations started.  Have I also mentioned that I invented the Internet?"
- Suspicious timelines: who knew what by when?
- A mysterious rich guy: Who is Jonnie Williams and how did he worm his way into the corridors of power in Richmond?  (And who stole the "h" in his name?)
- A pissed off whistle-blower -- the governor's chef of all people (which genius thought up that plot twist?)

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 140 words in story)

Governor McDonnell's Daily Schedule: Sponsored by Star Scientific

by: kindler

Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 07:00:00 AM EDT

As a public service, I thought I'd post the governor's schedule for the day.  Thank you, sir, for your service to the Commonwealth!

7:00 am: Start the day with delicious, nutritious, stimulating Anatabloc® energy drink.  Feed dog with Anatabloc® brand dog food.  Bill taxpayers for both.
7:30 am: Argument with Maureen over why she needs to stop demanding a mink coat from Dominion.
8:00 am: Ceremony in Richmond to sign bill creating new state DMV (Department to Monitor Vaginas).
8:30 am: Drive Jonnie Williams' Ferrari to the "End the Thermonuclear War on Coal" rally in Southwest with Ken Cuccinelli.  
11:00 am: Swedish massage from Jonnie Williams' personal assistant, Annika.
11:30 am:  Drive Jonnie Williams' Jaguar to Roanoke.  Lunch with Hollywood producers looking to film the movie "Nixon: the Musical" in Virginia. Caviar and sushi courtesy of...guess who?
1:00 pm:  Drive Jonnie Williams' Porsche to Virginia Beach to join mentor Pat Robertson at "Sodomy Sucks!" rally.  
3:00 pm: Return phone call to E.W. Jackson.  Come up with good excuse why you can't attend his "Melon Smashing for Jesus" event tomorrow.  
3:30 pm: Drive Jonnie Williams' Lamborghini back to Richmond.  Meet with members of the GOP Vote Suppression Caucus on their new bill to require Virginia citizens to show genetic test results before they can vote.  
4:30 pm: Issue proclamation in honor of Virginia Hay Farmers' Month.  Run out of room before reporters can ask questions about financial disclosure.  

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 107 words in story)

The Hollow Legacy of Governor McDogvitamin

by: kindler

Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 19:06:55 PM EDT

Bob McDonnell's governorship has been like one of those feel-good movies that you forget immediately upon leaving the theater. The handsome chief executive and his former cheerleader wife ride off into the sunset and...um, what was that all about again?

He's been a master of triangulation, always seeking the poll-favored center even when one doesn't exist. Don't like the idea of forced transvaginal probes for women seeking abortions?Hey, no worries, we'll lighten it up a bit for you! At a time when the Tea Party scares most people to death, Gov. Bob has presented a calming presence. But in the meantime, he's left a record thinner than Keira Knightley.

His cheerful lightweightedness might be okay if we weren't finding out revelations every week about what's really going on behind closed doors in the governor's mansion. The Star-gate scandal has revealed, once again, that the hollowness of Republicans like our Bob is built around a core of undying loyalty to corporate America. The ridiculously improper relationship between the McDonnells and tobacco supplement baron Jonnie Williams shows quite plainly how Republicans really think about government -- solely as a means to maintain the power and status of rich, entitled elites.

And the latest news about how the McDonnells have been billing the taxpayers for everything from deodorant to dog vitamins -- even as they've enjoyed such perks as driving Williams' Ferrari and staying at his vacation home -- says a whole lot about the real attitude of this empty suit. Hold onto power long enough to grab the benefits you can for yourself and your CEO buddies. Then, when the gig is up, you know you'll have that corporate suite with the six figure salary waiting for you.

It's a sweet deal, but ultimately, Gov. McDogvitamin's hollow legacy leaves the voters with but two choices: elect the Tea Party extremists who've taken over his party while his warm smile has lulled the voters to sleep; or throw them out in favor of Democrats who actually want to use our government to govern.

I look forward to sending Gov. Bob home -- with a very healthy dog.  

Discuss :: (6 Comments)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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