From the Washington Post:
IN THE end, it didn’t take long. After months of legal wrangling and public spinning; after five weeks of courtroom testimony; after two hours of a judge’s instructions in the legal niceties of the case, the jury in Robert F. and Maureen McDonnell’s trial knew public corruption when it saw it. Scarcely 48 hours after they got the case, the jurors rendered their verdict with no minced words: The McDonnells are guilty.
Until today, too many politicians in Richmond had convinced themselves of the commonwealth’s alleged exceptionalism — the supposed civility and ethical uprightness of the so-called Virginia Way. Convinced of its own abiding rectitude, Virginia’s political class has refused to enact laws with teeth to hold elected officials to decent standards of conduct in carrying out the people’s business. At the least, the McDonnell verdict should disabuse the old boys of their smug self-righteousness and their conviction that the state’s egregious absence of laws on public ethics is somehow all right. At the very least, it should end, once and for all, the common, cosseted view that legislation will not eradicate moral obtuseness. Of course it won’t; but a vacuum of laws will only encourage it.
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.”
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.
Thanks to that royal D-bag, Phillip Puckett.
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.
The press has helped the McDonnell’s defense in the former governor’s criminal trial but reporting on every salacious tidbit that comes out. We have heard about school board crushes, meetings, shopping trips, Ferrari’s and doomed marriages that have lost their luster. We have watched as the McDonnell couple has gone from hand holding to arriving separately. A year ago the couple appeared united as illustrated by the hand holding. Now Maureen McDonnell arrives with her daughter, with pursed lips.
Democrat Don Shaw declared his candidacy Tuesday for the 13th House of Delegates District seat, which voters will decide in November 2015.
The district covers portions of the Brentsville, Coles, Gainesville and Occoquan Magisterial Districts in Prince William County as well as all of the city of Manassas Park.
His campaign announcement means that he will not seek the office of Brentsville County Supervisor in the special election that would be held if current Supervisor Wally Covington receives a judicial appointment from the Virginia General Assembly.
So that leaves the race for the Brentsville Magisterial District supervisor to the Republicans unless someone else jumps in. Meanwhile, this can’t be very good news for Del. Bob Marshall. Marshall has been in office for years and is seen as a politician with a not so hidden agenda. While he takes up a few popular causes in his district, he is mainly known around the State Capital as an anti abortion extremist.
Senate Republicans on Thursday night used their new majority to pass a two-year budget that eliminates any opportunity for Gov. Terry McAuliffe or a year-old legislative commission to expand Medicaid or a private insurance alternative.
They were backed by House Republicans who said they would not approve the budget — even though Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans had removed an insurance marketplace — unless it included language to prevent any expansion without the approval of the full General Assembly.
The Senate passed the budget on a 21-18 vote. Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. of Accomack County was the only Democrat who backed the spending plan.
Just before midnight the House of Delegates voted 69-31 to adopt the budget, as lawmakers sought to end a three-month stalemate and address a $1.55 billion revenue shortfall.
The blame for this partisan stupidity cannot even be placed on the Virginia GOP. The blame clearly should be laid at the feet of Virginia’s own Benedict Arnold, Senator Phillip Puckett. Puckett chose his own personal career advancement and that of his daughter over 400,000 Virginians.
What is wrong with these people? Do people really act that rudely in the 7th District? I am appalled.
Common decency requires us to either listen politely or leave. Maybe I am naïve but I came from an era where this booing and hissing is simply unacceptable.
Having said that, this response should have been a warning to Eric Cantor. The rowdy rude crowd certainly made their feelings known.
In a state where Republicans send in a weak candidate like E. W. Jackson to be Lt. governor, I guess anything is possible. It sounds to me like the far right GOP want to make more of a statement than they really want to win.
I hope the tea party understands that most of us are repelled by the rude behavior they display at public gatherings. I suppose we will be treated to a summer of dangling tea bags, three-cornered hats, fife and drum parades, pocket Constitutions and impolite, threatening town hall meetings.
Let the side shows begin.