Everyone’s favorite attorney general apparently has never heard of the law of unintended consequences.
In January Cooch ruled that state money cannot be provided to non-profits because such transactions are, in his opinion, “unconstitutional.”
Today’s Washington Post looks at the impact so far of this ruling:
RICHMOND – Virginia officials have frozen funding for some charitable organizations in recent months – including free medical clinics and community health groups – as they sort out which nonprofit groups the state can legally fund in the wake of the attorney general’s opinion that such use of taxpayer money is unconstitutional.
The January ruling from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) that the state constitution bars grants to private charities threatens funding for a number of groups that have long relied in part on state money to fight child abuse, help AIDs patients and counsel low-income pregnant women.
When Cuccinelli’s opinion was released in January, it was widely thought to immediately affect only a handful of grants sought by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) during the winter legislative session.
It is now clear the opinion has had a far more sweeping impact.
HOWEVER — Cooch’s ruling may have some serious unintended consequences.
His ruling will cripple Virginia’s volunteer rescue squads and volunteer fire departments.
In most of Virginia, emergency services are provided by volunteer rescue squads and fire departments and all of these volunteer organizations are 501c(3) non-profits.
The Virginia Office of Emergency Services operates the Rescue Squad Assistance Fund, which is money appropriated by the General Assembly from tax revenue. Volunteer squads throughout the state apply to OES for RSAF grants to purchase life-saving equipment, radios, vehicles, training equipment, and other items without which they could not provide their services.
Under Cuccinelli’s ruling, the state can no longer provide this assistance to volunteer rescue squads and fire departments. So — what do we volunteer squads do with the equipment we have purchased with RSAF money? Give it back?
Meanwhile, if the Attorney General visits us rural folks, he’d better hope he doesn’t choke on a chicken bone because without state help, we may not be there to save him.
A Volunteer Ambulance Driver and EMT In-Training