AG refuses to resign whiling running for governor.
AG refuses to resign while running for governor.

SINCE WORLD WAR II, 10 of Virginia’s 11 attorneys general have run for governor. Nine of those 10, Democrats and Republicans alike, resigned to do so, and for good reason: They were loath to politicize an office whose effectiveness and prestige depend on making legal judgments untainted by politics.

Despite that wise precedent, Virginia’s current attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II (R), has refused to follow suit. He has clung to his position even as he angled for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, bringing a cloud over his office and casting doubt on its ability to act impartially as the state’s legal counsel.

An unfolding example is Mr. Cuccinelli’s maneuvering over Virginia’s landmark transportation bill, awaiting Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s signature after the General Assembly approved it last month with bipartisan support. Mr. Cuccinelli, a darling of the tea party and an unyielding conservative, opposed the bill because it raises taxes. It’s unfortunate, and irresponsible, that he attacked a bill that he now may be called on to defend.

“In these tough economic times,” he said, “I do not believe Virginia’s middle-class families can afford massive tax increases, and I cannot support legislation that would ask the taxpayers to shoulder an even heavier burden than they are already carrying, especially when the government proposes to do so little belt-tightening in other areas of the budget.”

Put aside his questionable characterizations of the economy (unemployment in Virginia is low, relative to other states, and falling, and the state has been running surpluses), the bill’s effect on taxpayers (as a percentage of personal income, Virginians pay the 43rd-lowest state and local taxes in the nation) and the state budget, which is quite lean (general-fund spending is roughly at 2007 levels following years of austerity and cuts).

The real problem is that, by acting simultaneously as the state’s top lawyer and an ideologically committed candidate for governor, Mr. Cuccinelli has put himself, and Virginia, in an untenable position.

If the recently passed transportation bill has legal problems, and it very well might since extra taxes are imposed on 2 different localities, then Ken Cuccinelli is going to have a real quandary on his hands.  Can he vigorously defend the transportation bill  as  he should, even though politically he is opposing it?   Cuccinelli would have a difficult time campaigning on the one hand, and defending on the other.  This dilemma could occur over many different issues that come up over the next few months.

Because he refuses to resign as attorney general. Cuccinelli places the integrity of the entire state, as well as his own, in question.

Cuccinelli should follow the example of the other Virginians and simply resign.

29 Thoughts to “Cuccinelli slides further down the slippery slope”

  1. Starry flights

    An excellent article. Cuccinelli must resign as AG preserve the honor and integrity of his office, as well as his own. But then, most conservatives don’t know the meaning of those words.

  2. Beedy

    Mr. Cuccinelli plays hardball politics so he’s probably loathe to give up his perch until he absolutely has to.

    From a practical standpoint, I don’t know why he doesn’t – since he’s running for Gov., isn’t he going to lose his AG seat in the same election? Why differentiate yourself in such a manner?

    1. I guess he is afraid he will lose a day or two of power…where he would have to give up his uber-radical right control over Virginia.

      Welcome Beedy.

  3. Lafayette

    How can you effectively do both jobs. Clearly those before him had the good sense to devote their time to their campaign. Instead, KennyC is trying to do both. I hope it’s an epic failure on his part for his bid for the Governor’s Mansion. It really doesn’t surprise me, Ken would think so highly of himself. He continued to practice law while running for his state senate seat back in the late 90’s.

    1. He sure isn’t short on ego.

  4. Elena

    There is so much wrong with cuccinelli, where does one begin. Resigning while he runs for govenor is only one his mistakes! How about strong arming the dept of health to rescind its recommendation to grandfather in reproductive clinics.

    1. Disgraceful on his part!

  5. Need to Know

    Is anyone concerned about Attorney General Holder’s admission that the Obama Administration could envision circumstances in which it would order drone strikes to assassinate American citizens on American soil? Kudos to Rand Paul for speaking out on this abomination. I have concerns about any president ordering drone strikes to kill Americans abroad, but would consider the possibility if it involved an American who is a known al-Qaeda affiliate and the action takes place somewhere controlled by the enemy, such as al-Qaeda territory in Yemen or somewhere like that, and only with some sort of independent judicial review.

    The notion that the Obama Administration thinks that it has the power to use a drone to assassinate an American on American soil under any circumstances is horrendous. Where is all of the righteous indignation Democrats and liberals raised about the Patriot Act during the Bush administration? I haven’t heard a peep from them about this. The only people I’ve heard speaking out about such an atrocity are Libertarians like Rand Paul. Nothing proposed by President Bush ever approached this magnitude of nullifying Americans’ basic rights of due process under the Constitution.

    The correct answer that Holder should have given is that under no circumstances would the Obama Administration even consider the use of drones to kill anyone on American soil without due process, whether that person is a citizen, immigrant, illegal alien or anyone else. We have law enforcement, the FBI, courts, and every other part of our legal system to deal with such matters according to Constitutional processes.

    1. You won’t hear outrage out of me. I have heard this one being worked into a furor with accompanying conspiracy theories.

      Why stir up a controversy? How is a drone any different than any other weapon which you Republicans don’t seem to worried about?

      Apache helicopter or a drone? The end result is all the same.

      I dsee nothing wrong with what Holder said. The only problem is he is a Democrat so lets turn it into a crisis.

      Bet if some drug cartel came scooting across the border in a ironclad humvee, not one Republican would be crying the blues if anything came along and shot those breeching our parameters.

      How high and mighty we can all get when it is the opposing party….after how many killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      This conversation does not belong in this thread. I guess the overwhelming temptation to Abama bash was overpowering.

  6. Beedy

    I hope Mr. Bolling runs as an I. I believe he has a real chance. It’s early but both party candidates are polling in the 30% range. The real problem is that the political parties in VA aren’t doing their job: producing seasoned, reasoned leadership to guide our state. Neither party candidate for Gov. has much to offer. They’re failing at the State level and the local level as well: Look at both the PWC and Manassas bodies.

    1. Don’t even get me started on the local democrats, Beedy. There is barely a swing, much less a miss.

  7. Elena

    I totally understand the concern, and wonder how any scenario could justify such use of a drone. This is what Holder says:

    The United States, he said, has not carried out such action domestically and had no plans to do so.

    Holder said a potential scenario might involve a president ordering such action “to protect the homeland” in a case like the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington or the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

    But he said the administration rejects the use of military force where law enforcement authorities provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.

    Here is what I have to say in general about our “war on terrorism”. It has been a collosal resource drainer. I would say a cyber attack is probably more likely than another al quada attack.

    What Holder should have said is that even if there were such a scenario, where imminent danger was at hand, there is a robust legal forum that must administer the appropriate judicical review before any such measure was approved.

    1. I like what Holder DID say. Why are Republicans playing what if? just stirring up trouble, as usual.

  8. Elena

    Um, what about Hamdi NTK, you know, that ole habius corpes thing 😉

  9. Need to Know


    “What Holder should have said is that even if there were such a scenario . . .” We agree that Holder said the wrong thing. The fact that the Obama Administration would even consider the use of drones to kill Americans on American soil is disturbing. I’m waiting for Obama supporters and Democrats in general to come out and say that this is wrong, without equivocating. Libertarian Republicans, such as Ron and Rand Paul had no hesitation to criticize fellow Republicans over Constitutional and civil liberty issues such as this.

    Moreover, the U.S. Government under Bush did not kill Hamdi. He was alive to pursue his grievances through the courts. He’s still alive to tell his tale. Under Obama, he would have been killed by a drone and we would have never heard anything about his case.

    What is the 9/11-like scenario? Use a drone to whack one of the 9/11 hijackers in the Dulles or Logan Airport garage before the attacks based just on suspicion, and take out some innocent bystanders at the same time? Obama and Holder have watched too many episodes of “24.”

    I agree with you here about Cuccinelli. He should resign as Attorney General to run for Governor. Corey Stewart should resign as PWC Board Chair to run for Lieutenant Governor. You and others in this thread are 100 percent correct about that. However, their ethical failure to do that pales in comparison with the Obama Administration’s claim that it has the right to kill Americans on American soil if, in its judgment, such action is warranted with no due process. Saying that there is a possible scenario in which that would be done, however unlikely, as Holder said, is tantamount to saying the President has the right and authority to do so. Where is the outrage over that?

    Yes, Ken and Corey are both being self-serving jerks by not resigning from their current office to run for another office. However, neither is claiming the right to knock anyone off without due process. We should have some proportionality in our outrage.

    1. The drone discussion should be under the open thread. I have had several emails about sticking to topic.

  10. @Need to Know
    The filibuster concerning this is ongoing even though Senator Rand Paul stopped talking after a 12+ hour old fashioned filibuster. He had bipartisan support. McConnell says that 60 votes will be need to stop it.

    THAT’s the part I don’t understand. How can there be a filibuster requiring 60 votes if there is no actual filibuster?

  11. As for Cuccinelli….

    Well, McDonnell resigned to run for Governor. And it worked. Cuccinelli needs to man up.

  12. Elena

    Let’s stay on topic though. This thread is about the AG.

    Thanks for staying on topic Cargo and you make a good point about McDonnell!

  13. Lafayette

    Dave Mabie also, stepped down from Clerk of the Circuit Court, when he ran for the 29th’s Senate seat against Colgan. Dave lost, and he returned to his post at the PW courthouse. I don’t like the fact these politicians, can make a run for a higher office, loose and get to keep their old office. If they wanted to do the work of the office for we the people, and the term they were elected, they wouldn’t be running for other offices. Of course, my logic seems like common sense. We know that’s something that seems to escape our politicians.

  14. @Lafayette

    Totally agree, Lafayette. Good example.

  15. Starryflights

    What is Cuccinelli’s stance on the sequester? Des he even ave one? McDonnell broke with his oarty by opposing it since it would throw a lot of Virginians out of work.

  16. Clinton S. Long

    This sure sounds like 2009 again when the Governor did not resign when he was going across the country as DNC chairman. Seems to me, there were a lot of accusers and a lot of defenders.

    I wonder if Tim Kaine agrees with the attorney general that one can do two part time jobs at the same time effectively. Has anyone heard from the senator about this?

    1. Ken Cuccinelli has a clear conflict of interest. Tim Kaine did not have a conflict of interest. I also think he should have not taken the Chair of the Democratic Party.

  17. Pat.Herve

    Very similar to Paul Ryan (and Joe Liberman with Gore) running as Vice President and Congress at the same time, in the same election. Essentially voting for the same person for two offices (I know, you really do not vote for VP, but he is on the ticket).

    Than to me, is more disingenuous. If they were to win, it would mean a new election – at significant cost.

  18. Clinton S. Long

    Actually the more recent occasion was Senator Biden running for reelection when he was elected Vice President.

    By the way, Kentucky law does not permit Senator Paul to run for President and reelection as senator in 2016. He will have to choose.

  19. Scout

    The issue isn’t whether anyone politician can hold an office while running for another. The issue is whether running for Governor in Virginia requires one to take positions that might adversely affect one’s ability to be an effective Attorney General. The AG spot is so frequently a rest stop on the way to the Governor’s office (or contention therefor) that most AG’s resign once their intentions to chase the Brass Ring of the Governor’s mansion are clear. Cuccinelli has not done so. My sense is that he needs the paycheck and, of course, the AG’s job has been an essential part of his gubernatorial campaign.

    It gets dicey when politics dictate that Cuccinelli take a stand on something like the recent transportation tax (he managed to both support it and oppose it, in that order) and then, as the Commonwealth’s AG, defend it in court. It may be that the Governor will modify it enough that Cuccinelli can ultimately support it after having opposed it after having supported it. But he is compromised as and advocate.

    He should have quite months ago.

  20. Scout

    “quite” should read “quit”

  21. Lyssa

    He’d lose media access.

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