But the perfectly legal, unlimited-cash culture that has long pervaded Virginia campaign giving has been on display right alongside McDonnell and his wife, Maureen — and it has renewed the question of whether that culture is broken and needs a fix.
Although it enjoyed a reputation for clean government, Virginia had some of the loosest ethics rules in the nation before the McDonnell scandal prompted reforms by the General Assembly this year. Even now, elected officials can accept campaign contributions of any size and unlimited “intangible gifts,” such as vacations and meals.
Some legislators expect the closely watched trial to inspire even tougher standards. Others say the case seems too extraordinary to form the basis for broad policy.
“I don’t think you can write a law that can cure what’s going on in the McDonnell trial,” said state Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin), expressing a common sentiment among state politicians who point to trial evidence of Maureen McDonnell’s possible mental illness and infatuation with Williams as unique circumstances to this case.
But there’s one thing the case has exposed: how subjective and mutable the rules are for who can give and how much.
For example, the legislature capped gifts at $250 this year. But gifts from “personal friends” remain unlimited. In 2013, McDonnell described Williams as a personal friend.
It doesn’t seem that Virginia really has any ethics rules. What seems even more amazing is the fact that Virginia lawmakers didn’t race in to shore up their loose-knit, obviously problematic non-ethical standards. It appears that current legislators wanted to keep the status quo of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
The superintendent of a school district in Illinois has issued a directive banning any discussion in classrooms of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen killed Aug. 9 by a white police officer, or the civil unrest that followed in Ferguson, Mo.
KMOX-TV reports that Superintendent Ed Hightower of Edwardsville District 7 Schools made the decision after some parents complained that some teachers were expressing personal opinions during discussions with students in their classrooms. The station report says:
Superintendent Ed Hightower says normally there would be an open discussion of current events.
“However, this situation in Ferguson-Florissant has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown,” he says.
He says teachers have been told not to discuss it and if students bring it up, they should change the subject.
Effective July 1, 2013, legislation enacted by the General Assembly increases the state sales tax by 0.3% statewide. An additional 0.7% state sales tax has been added to localities in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions.
Distilled spirits retail prices include 20 percent state tax.
Wine retail prices include 4 percent state tax and $.40 per liter wine tax.
A 6 percent sales tax will be added at the register to the retail price of wines and distilled spirits in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions.
A 5.3 percent sales tax will be added at the register to the retail price of wines and distilled spirits in all other regions of the state.
A 2.5 percent sales tax will be added to the retail price of non-alcoholic beverage items at the register in all regions of the state.
A 6 percent sales tax will be added at the register to the retail price of non-food/beverage items in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions.
A 5.3 percent sales tax will be added at the register to the retail price of non-food/beverage items in all other regions of the state.
There are several issues here. First off, will these legislators who set these tax increases admit to raising taxes?
Secondly, is Northern Virginia getting hammered again? How about Hampton? Which localities? All localities? Why are these target areas for higher taxes? What localities constitute “Northern Virginia?”
Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell had just explained, with a heart-breaking letter and a sotto voce delivery, that his marriage was in shambles. He went on from there to describe how those personal woes sucked him into a public corruption case.
He testified that first lady Maureen McDonnell was seeking money, attention and maybe even affection from a charming, free-spending businessman. McDonnell told the jury he was in the dark about his wife’s affairs, both financial and (non-physically) romantic.
And so the first criminal case in history against a Virginia governor could come down to this: Does McDonnell, self-professed micromanager and 2012 vice presidential prospect, make a convincing chump?
“Maureen, I manage the finances,” McDonnell said he told his wife upon learning (belatedly, he claimed) that she had borrowed $50,000 from then-Star Scientific executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
Did he manage them or not?
I have been sucked into this political soap opera just like it is Dallas, back in “Who shot J. R.” days. I tune in after each day in court. It isn’t even that I dislike Bob McDonnell. I dislike some of the things he did–extremely dislike. (Gov. Ultra-sound) On the flipside, I also like some of the things he did, like just saying NO to Common Core. So this isn’t a matter of like or dislike. It’s a matter of just being incredulous.
An angry president addresses a sad nation over the death of James Foley at the hands of ISIL. It sounds like it’s game on. President Obama needs to unleash the fury of the US arsenal on these brutal bastards.
Local GOP stalwart Bob FitzSimmonds resigned his post as state party treasurer in light of controversial comments he made about Muslims and members of other faiths on Facebook, or has he? As of today, he is still on the job. Did he really resign or was he just kidding?
The Republican State Central Committee met over the weekend and took no action to replace him. Many party leaders have called for him to step down, including Prince William GOP chairman William Card. Mr. FitzSimmonds ‘antiquated ideas on the roles of people other than Christians in the United States hinder Republican efforts to increase the size of their tent or reach out beyond the current demographics of their party. Failure to succeed in that task could mean the demise of the Republican party, and of a viable two party system in the United States.
RICHMOND — Republican A. Benton Chafin Jr. won a state Senate seat Tuesday that secured GOP control of the General Assembly, dimming Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s legislative prospects and erasing the last vestige of blue from Southwest Virginia.
Chafin, a freshman state delegate, easily defeated Democrat Mike Hymes to fill the Senate seat that Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) abruptly resigned in June. The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) called the race shortly before 8 p.m.
The race — potentially the most expensive state Senate contest in Virginia history — was one of four special elections statewide Tuesday. Voters in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads chose Democratic delegates for two empty House seats. And in central Virginia, a town council race put the commonwealth’s new voter identification rules to their first test.
The Senate election was the most important of the day given its impact on Richmond’s upper chamber. Republicans already dominate the House, so the GOP victory in the Senate put the General Assembly fully in the hands of a party that opposes the Democratic governor’s top policy aims.
Time to start counting the anti-abortion bills. Terry McAuliffe, get your veto pen out. Rocky roads ahead.
Little attention was paid up here in Northern Virginia to this critical special election. The state Democrats sure didn’t do their job on this one. I didn’t see one ad, I didn’t get one piece of mail regarding this election. Are the Democrats broke?
The only hope the Democrats have is to pick up a couple of seats in the election Nov. 2015 election. Think that will happen? If I were a betting kind of lady, I would say no.
What mischief is this chap getting ready to cause? The little guy wasn’t very old.
The mother was no where to be seen. That’s unusual.
I am reminded of the advice hikers give when being confronted by a bear. Look Large.
Looking Large isn’t just for those confronting bears. People in politics also Look Large. Looking Large attempts to throw off one’s contenders. Birds do the same thing. They Look Large by puffing their feathers up. Some birds can look twice their size.
Thanks thugs. I now have to fight with Mr. Moonhowler over some issues that I consider fairly important. I have had to defend Al Sharpton, I have had to explain why the teen death rate in Chicago is a separate issue from Ferguson. I have had to talk about proportion–why your life isn’t an even exchange for a box of cigars.
I am not sure who all is rioting, looting, and shooting in Ferguson. It might not even be local folks. All I know is, when rioting, looting and shooting starts, the city of Ferguson loses. People stop listening to real problems and focus on behaviors that have become icons of “otherness.” Seriously, we shouldn’t be talking about the murder rate in Chicago among black youths, why Al Sharpton is down there or any of those things. We should be talking about process.
Do cops make mistakes? Yes. They are human beings. However, the problem seems to be how this tragic situation was handled. I am still not ready, in my own mind, to declare guilt or innocence to any of the parties involved. I need more information. Why the hell is it taking so long?
We now have the highway patrol, (I am assuming the equivalence of the Virginia State Police.) and the national guard called out. This situation is serious and there will be NO winners.
What have the protests done to advance Michael Brown’s “cause?” Can violence and looting EVER help a situation? I say no. It does quite the opposite. It makes us lose focus on the real problem and all to quickly focus on race and “other.”
FERGUSON, Mo. — For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.
That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests. Read more…
Robin Anthony Toogood II was an admired educator, the kind of principal who inspires loyalty among other teachers for his compassion and positive attitude. To his students, he was a role model who commanded respect, a leader who handled discipline infractions with a gentle hand.
But according to local schools officials, Toogood harbored a secret throughout his 15-year career in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia schools: Although he claimed to be highly educated — saying he had a doctorate — in reality he was a college dropout.
Former colleagues said they were surprised that Toogood appears to have repeatedly landed teaching and administrative jobs while providing fake or embellished credentials, as Virginia education officials have alleged. Those who worked with him said Toogood was known for his gregarious charm, warm smile and innate leadership qualities.
“He would have been the last person you would have ever expected to lie,” said Katie Holland, a former substitute teacher at St. Michael the Archangel, a Catholic elementary school in Silver Spring where Toogood worked as an assistant principal during the 2007-2008 school year.
You know, this sort of thing probably goes on more frequently than we know about. Granted, it takes real cajones to pull off an educational heist such as this one but there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Listen to how Mr. Toogood is described. He sounds like the ideal principal, doesn’t he?
RICHMOND — A federal appeals court today denied motions for a stay of its gay marriage ruling.
Same-sex couples will be allowed to apply for marriage licenses effective Aug. 20, said Michel Kelly, spokesman for Attorney General Mark R. Herring.
Or, use your linked account:
Last week, Herring had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of its recent ruling on Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban — contrary to the plaintiffs in the case, who seek to overturn the ban immediately.
Herring also last week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to settle the constitutional issues with same-sex marriage bans for Virginia and the rest of the country.
Finally! Congratulations to all the folks who have helped make this possible. Same sex marriage is a civil right, in my not-so-humble opinion.
Help me out here. I keep hearing people bemoan that same sex marriage harms marriage in general. I fail to see how. People harm marriages. No one else an harm my marriage but my husband or me. (and damn! we have both given it our best shot!!!)
Those who feel that same sex marriage might harm their marriage out to look inward instead of outward.