Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Home Tags Phil Puckett

Tag: Phil Puckett

Here’s The Big Deal With Phil Puckett’s Resignation and the Federal...

The saga of former state Senator Phil Puckett's resignation continues. Not everybody is happy that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey are investigating it. According to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, a former Virginia attorney general and Democrat, Andrew P. Miller, penned a letter to both Holder and Comey.  Here's a quote from the RT-Dispatch:

Nothing that has been reported in the media "suggests that any criminal activity has occurred," writes Miller, who served as attorney general from 1970 to 1977.

In the letter, Miller notes Puckett's daughter's quest for the judgeship and asserts that Puckett would be an asset to the commission because his district grows burley tobacco.

"If you will pardon my English," Miller writes, "big damn deal!"

Miller writes that such transitions from the legislature to executive roles are frequent occurrences in Democratic and Republican administrations.

"Thus, this FBI intrusion into Virginia's self-government can only be characterized as designed to serve partisan ends."

I am not a lawyer, so I won't comment on the legality of the resignation. But I suspect that the federal government has a higher standard for what constitutes ethics than the famed "Virginia Way" politicos do. First remember that five former Virginia AGs - three of whom are Democrats - also filed a brief requesting that charges be dropped against Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen.  In that brief, they stated that federal attorneys overreached and stretched the law.  They saw no illegal activity.  One of those signees was AGs Miller, who also finds no legal or ethical problems here.  All I can say is that the federal government obviously has a higher standards for ethics and legality than these hacks.

Spending Our Political Contributions Wisely

Lt Gov Northam presiding photo 140626VirginiaSenate_zpsd365b995.jpgMany of you have been bombarded with pleas for money to help Democrats regain the Virginia Senate majority; a noble cause. Well, you should ask three questions before you contribute a dime: Is there a strategy for success? Where is your money going to end up? Will you suffer remorse?

On this or another of Lowell's blogs, I asked at the end of one particularly disappointing campaign where I go to get a refund of my contributions. After that campaign I decided that I wouldn't contribute to any campaign whose candidate doesn't share my core values and doesn't have a chance in hell of being victorious. In the special election for Phil Puckett's abandoned seat, the Democratic candidate fails quite possibly both criteria. I say quite possibly because we may never know what the insiders now know from polling in the district. Frankly, if I were to venture a guess, I'd bet he is at the general starting point for the generic Democratic candidate in the region: 37%. And, we already know he is joined at the hip with coal. That's a pragmatic position; I understand that. But he is unabashedly supportive; his position is not nuanced in any way. I can tell you I won't regret not contributing on both counts.

I have also learned not to contribute to any committee that claims to support my candidate(s). There are simply too many ways my contribution won't end up in my candidates' coffers. The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus funneled $410,168 to Phil Puckett in 2011; the 3rd highest individual beneficiary. That would mean that of each dollar from that group that went to an actual candidate, 13.9% went to Puckett. Oh, and in any case only about 49% of all Caucus expenditures went directly to Virginia Senate candidates even when including a big chunk, $224,500, which went to an independent candidate in the 19th. But it's a broader issue. Your direct contributions to other candidates also ended up in Russell County: $15,000 from Chap Peterson; $5,000 from Dick Saslaw; $2,500 from Janet Howell; $1,000 from Don McEachin. I have contributed to at least one of them; I never will again. I don't need them deciding my money should go somewhere I didn't send it. Note that it is not only the Senate Caucus and not just at the state level where this is a common betrayal.

However, it is the strategy for regaining control of the Senate that concerns me most. The focus right now looks extremely tactical: fight the good fight in the 38th. But I believe Sun Tzu would advise differently. You don't reinforce failure; that is complete folly. I have met some great Democrats in the 38th, but even with the power of incumbency, Phil Puckett won that district with 53% of the vote after spending $1,365,143. He outspent his opponent by about a quarter million dollars. We Democrats are in no position to raise the amount of money that it will take to pretend we might win the 38th. And when that cash we don't have is gone, where does that position us for the races in 2015?

On election night 2015, we shouldn't be wondering if the money we wasted in 2014 could have turned a red tide in the Virginia Senate. In 2015 if we choose wisely we might even gain a seat or two for the high price of none in 2014.

The Democratic Party of Virginia Uses the “B” Word

The official Twitter feed of the Democratic Party of Virginia has just accused the Republican Party of Virginia of bribing a Democratic State Senator in order to block Medicaid expansion.  These are very strong words: bribery is a crime.  In fact, bribery is two crimes--when a bribe is offered or paid both the person offering the bribe and the person accepting the bribe are potentially guilty of bribery.

The principals in this case are State Delegate Terry Kilgore (R) and State Senator Phil Puckett (D).  News reports are alleging that Kilgore arranged a cushy, highly-compensated job for Puckett at Virginia's Tobacco Commission in exchange for Puckett's agreeing to resign and tip control of Virginia's state senate to the Republican Party of Virginia's control.  You can read more at these links:

A Republican Virginia Senate and Voter Suppression

While State Senate Democrats smugly accepted the outcome of Virginia redistricting as victory, they may have set the stage for Obama's defeat by leaving defense of their majority to Dick Saslaw and the DPVA. Republicans are focused on this vulnerability. Two seats and the door to voter suppression opens wide.
The new Texas law, advanced and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, provides a clear giveaway on intent. A voter doesn't even have to show his driver's license or passport -- he can qualify just by producing his license to carry a concealed handgun. Yet note what's not eligible now in Texas: any form of student identification (heaven forbid ballot-casting by young people with all their inexperience!).  - Neal Peirce
In a piece published yesterday in the Richmond Times Dispatch but in reality a product of the Washington Post Writers Group, Neal Peirce discusses what is the clear implication of a Republican majority in the coming Virginia Senate. You see, those of us raised in the old South recognize the tricks. A fresh coat of paint doesn't fool us (not even the one on the rock at that Texas hunting club).  However, voter suppression is a newly honed craft.