RICHMOND — Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife on Tuesday unveiled an unorthodox defense to the federal corruption charges against them: Maureen McDonnell had a “crush” on the charismatic executive who lavished gifts and cash on the couple.
Maureen McDonnell’s intense — even romantic — interest in Jonnie R. Williams Sr. helps explain why she let him pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations for her and her family while she promoted a nutritional supplement he was trying to sell, defense attorneys said during opening statements. She was not hatching a scheme with her husband to get rich by abusing the prestige of the governor’s office; rather, she was a woman in a broken marriage who craved attention.
“Jonnie Williams was larger than life to Maureen McDonnell,” said William Burck, Maureen McDonnell’s lead defense attorney. “But unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell.” Read more…
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.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed portions of the state budget Friday and vowed to defy the legislature by expanding Medicaid without its approval, setting up a legal showdown with Republicans even as he averted a government shutdown.
McAuliffe’s actions — cheered as bold leadership from the left, denounced as brazen overreach on the right — represent a bid to reassert his power as chief executive following the GOP’s recent takeover of the state Senate. They plunged a Capitol that puts a premium on gentility more deeply than ever into harsh, Washington-style enmity. Read more…
As state and local government employees — including some 110,000 in Hampton Roads — dug deeper to contribute to their pension plans last year, surging financial markets finally bumped the totals in the Virginia Retirement System’s pension trust funds above where they stood before the Great Recession.
But those sums still aren’t enough to make VRS executives, or the financial experts who advise them, comfortable that it has the resources it needs to pay pensions and retirement benefits far into the future.
VRS’ main fund, a $55 billion pool of stocks, bonds and real estate investments, can cover about 65.6 percent of what insurance statisticians say it is going to have to pay by the time the last of its 324,000 participants and 164,000 retirees pass away, its latest annual report disclosed. Ideally, pension fund advisers like to see 100 percent funding, but they say 80 percent can suffice.
Was the amount the state owes the VRS calculated into these figures? Part of the problem with VRS is that the General Assembly refused to fund it to recommended levels. Now who pays the piper? The participants.
Despite the dooming and glooming, the VRS remains a good pension. It used to be considered one of the best in the nation. Too bad the politicians ruined it, then tipped in it like it was their own ATM. Time to pay the piper, General Assembly.
RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has added a potent weapon to his bipartisan charm offensive: better booze.
Desperately in need of Republican friends to get his agenda through a divided General Assembly, McAuliffe (D) has restocked the executive mansion bar and thrown open the doors for nightly receptions. In at least one case, he sniffed out just which craft beer a GOP bigwig likes and made sure to have it on hand.
To the discount hooch and Bud Light normally on tap at the mansion, the governor has added top-shelf liquor and microbrews at his own expense — a move made possible by his enormous personal wealth and made necessary by heightened scrutiny to mansion spending amid his predecessor’s gifts scandal. While appealing to the legislature’s more discriminating tipplers, McAuliffe has not forgotten the teetotalers: For them, he serves up daily breakfasts, picking up the private catering tab personally.
The Republicans who dominate the Virginia House of Delegates are gearing up for legal battle with state Attorney General Mark R. Herring, the first Democrat to hold the post in twenty years.
Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) has put forward a bill that would give General Assembly members legal standing to represent the commonwealth when the governor and attorney general choose not to defend a law.
If the bill succeeds, it could set up a situation like the one in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans hired a private attorney to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment directly on the legislation, but spokeswoman Ellen Qualls noted that “the constitution of Virginia provides for a duly elected attorney general to do this very job.”
Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, wants voters to be able to register by political party.
He has proposed a bill that would add party affiliation to the information people are asked to provide when registering. People could say they are independents, as well.
The state party chairman of each political party would have to notify the State Board of Elections of the party rules governing who may participate in the party’s primaries.The bill is similar to ones introduced in 2012 by Del. James LeMunyon and Del. Timothy D Hugo, both Fairfax County Republicans. Their efforts died in the Privileges and Elections Committee, without a vote ever being taken.
Thumbs down. Why does this seem like the Republicans love the plan? Have you every heard a Democrat like this proposal? How about Independents? Something must be broken if the Republicans want to fix it.
Atif is also a dad, a husband, a soccer coach and a progressive thinker. He was endorsed by the Washington Post:
“District 13: After more than two decades in the House, Republican Robert G. Marshall has a well-earned reputation as a culture warrior more interested in right-wing doctrine than in his constituents. His contempt for homosexuals is surpassed only by his disregard for women who have abortions; he suggested that God exacts vengeance on women who abort their fetuses by assuring that their next pregnancy will produce a disabled child. His constituents in Prince William County would be much better served by Democrat Atif M. Qarni, a personable public school teacher and former Marine whose plain sense and temperate politics distinguish him from the incumbent.”
When Bob Marshall first ran for office, he favored term limits, or so he said. I guess he got power hungry.
At any rate, its time to give Atif Qarni a chance. He has put forth good ideas. Its time to implement them. It’s time to send a pro education delegate to Richmond.
Those who can, teach.
Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.
Atif can! His reputation as an outstanding math teacher is known throughout Prince William County. Let’s send Atif Qarni to Richmond to show them how it’s done! He is even a math teacher so he can show them how it all adds up.
Throughout Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, has cast Cuccinelli as a tea party extremist, incapable of forging the centrist consensus necessary to manage the commonwealth. The portrait has stuck, according to recent polls; McAuliffe appears to be ahead in the race — and Cuccinelli’s conservatism is a leading reason.
For years, he articulated that conservatism in the Cuccinelli Compass, honing a combative political persona and providing opponents with material that has now driven up his negative poll ratings and lifted McAuliffe. At the same time, Cuccinelli has accused Democrats of turning him into a caricature, seeking to scare off voters by distorting and lying about his record as a state senator and Virginia’s attorney general.
The Cuccinelli Compass is where Cuccinelli presented himself as an unbridled firebrand, venting about the “left-leaning media,” “gun-grabbing liberals” and “liberals wigging out” over, say, his proposal to allow employers to fire workers for speaking inadequate English.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened a double-digit lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli II in the race for Virginia governor, in a new poll capturing increasing dissatisfaction among voters with Cuccinelli’s party and his conservative views.
According to a new Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll, McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 51 percent to 39 percent among likely voters in the Nov. 5 election. McAuliffe led by eight percentage points in a poll taken last month. Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who has capitalized on voter unrest with the two major-party candidates, is at 8 percent, according to the new poll.
The margin between the two major-party candidates is driven by a huge gender gap. Among men, the two candidates are running even, with Cuccinelli at 45 percent and McAuliffe at 44 percent. But among women, Cuccinelli trails by 24 points — 58 percent to 34 percent.
There are some interesting facts in this video. The most dangerous thing to either candidate is that each man’s respective base grow complacent and stay home.
With less than a month until the election, the heat is on for the heart and soul of the Old Dominion. I never like calling an election. I feel it jinxes things up. However, it might be a subtle reminder to those who want to play a little ‘war on women’ that there can be deadly electoral paybacks.
What the women don’t take care of, the shutdown will. Unfortunately for Cuccinelli, the antics of his party have bled over into his campaign. That actually seems a little unfair. The banana republicans should have thought of that before trying to ignore rule of law. Their attempt to play hardball to get their own way definitely has had unintended consequences. The Cooch just might be one of those consequences.
The Democratic candidate for attorney general is calling on the state’s watchdog agency to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Virginia Retirement System’s investment in Star Scientific stock last year.
“The fact that our state’s pension fund would decide to invest in Star Scientific, a company that has suffered tens of millions of dollars in losses over the past decade, raises the possibility of serious flaws in the processes by which investment professionals within the Virginia Retirement System choose investments on behalf of our state employees,” state Sen. Mark R. Herring, D-Loudoun writes in a letter to Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico and Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan.
They are chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.
The VRS has been in a steady decline in the past 5 years, since the onset of the Great Recession. One has to ask why, since the stock market recovery has been remarkable and is at an all time high. In short, the VRS got knocked on its financial ass, like everyone else, during the crash. It has not kept pace because the General Assembly has refused to fund it at the levels where they should be funding. Additionally, the State of Virginia has used the VRS like an ATM. It owes the fund millions of dollars that must be repaid. Part of this ‘loan’ is from municipalities and school system pay-ins being deferred.
RICHMOND — A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or loan, according to people with knowledge of the payments.
The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 check to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011, the people said.
The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012 — funds that are now at the center of federal and state investigations.
Williams, the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific Inc., also provided a $10,000 check in December as a present to McDonnell’s eldest daughter, Jeanine, intended to help defray costs at her May 2013 wedding, the people said.
Virginia’s first family already is under intense scrutiny for accepting $15,000 from the same chief executive to pay for the catering at the June 2011 wedding of Cailin McDonnell at the Executive Mansion.
A proposed six-mile highway outside Charlottesville is so wasteful and ill-conceived that it’s achieved literary status. It prompted best-selling novelist and area resident John Grisham to write a book implicitly denouncing it.
“The Activist,” published last month and aimed at youths ages 10 to 12, is fictional. But Grisham said it was inspired by the decades-long battle over a $245 million bypass west of the city that’s home to the University of Virginia.
Grisham, famed for such legal thrillers as “The Firm,” said the new book is about “a boneheaded bypass around a lovely little college town and all the issues that go into such a boondoggle.”
The rest of the state, and especially Northern Virginia, should be equally appalled. The road is one of the most egregious examples of a pattern in which Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration relentlessly pushes a major highway project despite abundant evidence that the money could be spent more wisely elsewhere.