Questions of the Day

two_facesNow that Ken Cuccinelli has agreed to donate $18,000 to charity, expunging the intolerable stain of having accepted lodging, dinner and transportation from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr., will the drum beat begin for other elected officials to return their gifts?

Have we set a new standard that applies to all? Will cries now ring out for, say,  Senator Tim Kaine to repay past gifts of a similar nature? Or have we simply set a standard that applies only to Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2013?

Will a clamor now commence for wealthy entrepreneur Terry McAuliffe to open up his tax records? Or is that a standard that applied only to Republican presidential candidates in 2012?

– JAB

17 Responses to Questions of the Day

  1. Kaine’s gifts did not involve Star Scientific. Cuccinelli and McDonnell only returned gifts from Star Scientific.

    Gifts to elected officials are a far different matter from the tax returns of private citizens. I would think that was obvious.

    The question of whether elected officials should accept gifts is a question for the worst state legislature in the United States – the Virginia General Assembly. Don’t hold your breath waiting for action from the clown show. They will do nothing. The gifts will continue to be accepted and the tax breaks will continue to be handed out.

    Nobody should have to disclose their tax returns in order to run for office. It’s a ridiculous request. However, if the General Assembly believes that should be a pre-requisite for candidates they should pass a law mandating it.

    Similarly, nobody should be forced to disclose their college transcripts in order to run for office. Again, if the General Assembly wants to mandate that then they should vote it into law.

    This “politics as entertainment” is hurting America. Cuccinelli has made an education proposal that isn’t even being broadly discussed while people remain fascinated and titillated by the Star Scientific saga.

  2. DJR is absolutely right.

    JAB is presenting us with a false choice and totally ignores the fact that Cuccinelli’s involvement with Star Scientific directly affected his performance as Atty. Gen., a post from which other gubernatorial contenders resigned before running.

    Kaine and a zillion other politicians from both parties have accepted gifts legally. But can Bacon point to a true comparison with Star? I doubt it.

    Therefore, Jim’s analysis, as well as his selection of the two babies as art, is false and misleading.

    He should withdraw his blog posting and prepare a video apologizing for his error. Cuccinelli’s mea culpa spot can be a useful example of how to do that. I liked it.

    • No two cases are ever the same. There’s always a distinction you can draw to say “they’re different.” It’s funny how PeterG. always manages to draw those distinctions in favor of the candidates he prefers and against the candidates he dislikes.

      Peter says, “Kaine and a zillion other politicians from both parties have accepted gifts legally.”

      Oh, that explains it. Now, please remind me what Cuccinelli did that was illegal?

      Your high-minded talk of principles is nothing more than partisan sophistry. You apply principles as expedient to batter the guys you don’t like.

  3. This incident (the $18,000 repayment albeit months late) has crystallized my understanding of Ken Cuccinelli.

    He is a runaway egomaniac.

    Think about it. Cuccinelli is 45 years old and has degrees in engineering, law and international business. He founded a law firm that his supporters claim was a success. He makes $150,000 per year and received a $30,000 advance for his book.

    Yet he claims that scraping together $18,000 was a real family hardship. This is the opposite of Bob McDonnell who seemed to be able to snap his fingers and come up with considerably more money.

    I believe Cuccinelli. I have five kids, Cuccinelli has seven. It’s expensive to have lots of kids. Ken will learn that lesson in triplicate once his kids start attending college. Once that starts to happen, finding $18,000 will seem trivial.

    I honestly believe he remained as Attorney General because he couldn’t afford to lose the paycheck.

    So, why trip up Bill Bolling with an end run for the governorship? Why not finish your term as Attorney General, go back to your law firm, stock the shelves with cash and then run for governor.

    I have no doubt that Ken Cuccinelli can make just about as much money as he wants to make in the private sector.

    The simple fact is that his ego and vanity overwhelm everything else in his life.

    He needs to run for governor now so he can have two terms as US Vice President before becoming President at 61.

    Why did he write and publish that book on the eve of his campaign? The book wasn’t going to help him win. Quite the opposite. The people who agree with the points in the book were going to vote for him anyway. However, it confirmed his extremeness for a number of independent voters who will now vote McAuliffe.

    He wrote the book because he considered himself a shoo – in for the governorship and was starting his run for national office.

    I see very little difference in emotional composition between Ken Cuccinelli and Barack Obama. Both are ego driven ideologues. Both scare me.

  4. Jim,
    Arguing with you about this is becoming a rather pointless exercise. Cuccinelli is the state’s top legal officer. Yet he owned stock in a firm he didn’t disclose and had to consider representing the state in cases where the firm was an opponent. He stayed as a personal guest in the house of the head of that firm and accepted Thanksgiving meals at his vacation home. I do not know of a similar situation involving Kaine.
    My point stands. You seem to think by arguing it away, the stain will vanish. Luckily it is not up to you to decide. It’s much bigger.

    • I’m not defending Cuccinelli’s actions. I’m probing your critique of Cuccinelli’s actions. You parse the facts in such a way as to damn Cuccinelli and parse the facts in such a way as to let McAuliffe off the hook. If the roles were precisely reversed — if McAuliffe had been guilty of what Cuccinelli had done, and Cuccinelli had been guilty of what McAuliffe had done — I have no doubt whatsoever that we’d be hearing very different stories about both.

  5. Jim,
    McAuliffe is not a lawyer. He has never been Virginia’s attorney general. He has never been a position of representing the state in legal matters while owning stock in a hostile company.
    What is it that McAuliffe has done? Had some bad business deals. You have had some and so have I.

    • Excellent question – what has McAuliffe done? Do you really want to debate Global Crossing? I know the details of that matter by heart. McAuliffe was smart enough to sell while the stock was high. That’s the beginning, middle and end of the case. Cuccinelli recently put out an ad about Global Crossing. It was pathological in its level of deception. Some of the people interviewed claimed they were “duped” into being part of a Cuccinelli campaign ad.

      Disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.

      Meanwhile, just today, Virginia disclosed another $100,000 legal bill from a previously unknown law firm representing McDonnell (on the taxpayer dime).

      And why do we need to have private law firms represent our elected officials in these matters? Because Cuccinelli’s unethical acceptance of gifts from Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific required that the AG recuse himself from the matter.

      Will Cuccinelli also agree to pay the $100,000 law bill too?

      • You’ve been reasonably consistent, so my argument is not really directed at you. My goal is to puncture Democrat self righteousness.

        2012: Democrats agitated for Romney to release his income tax records.
        2013: Democrats defend McAuliffe’s right not to release his income tax records.

        2012: Democrats pillory Romney for making huge profits in companies that subsequently went bust and people got laid off and suffered.
        2013: Democrats see absolutely no problem with McAuliffe making huge profits from a company that subsequently went bust and people laid off and suffered.

        It’s the old game of shift the standard. What’s remarkable is that it’s only ONE YEAR LATER. And the principles applied to Romney are not applied to McAuliffe, and never-before-invoked principles are suddenly applied to Cuccinelli.

        Again, I’m not defending Cuccinelli’s actions (much less McDonnell’s). I’m just pointing out the double standards.

  6. Thanks Don,
    Bacon, BTW, here’s an example YOU know well. I was smart enough to sell my Media General stock when it was still in the $60s. Does that make me a crook? Or just a realist?

  7. And, how about that extra $100K in legal bills, Jim. If it were MWAA you’d be screaming your head off!

    • Is I recall, MWAA picked up the legal bills for the union guy, Dennis Martire. I never made an issue of that.

      So there! Ppppthththth!

      • Hmmmm…

        Martire, like McDonnell, was the executive being defended.

        So far, so good?

        Was MWAA’s internal counsel prevented from defending Martire because he or she had taken gifts from a vendor?

        If so, you have a legitimate corollary.

        Or, did MWAA decide that it lacked the internal legal skills or availability for Martire’s defense.

        If so, you have no corollary.

  8. whether or not the state or a state entity pays legal bills would seem to hinge on whether they were in compliance with govt rules or not.

    if they are in compliance, the state would defend them.

    If not, then no.

    wrong?

  9. If anyone really thinks there are not double standards, I have an old stock certificate I’ll sell them for $1 million. That doesn’t justify bad conduct, but we should have one set of rules.

    Our sorry newspaper (worth only $250 million) wrote much more about George Allen and his stupid remarks than it ever did on the great DTR giveaway or Gerry Connolly’s vote for an extra rail station in front of his employer SAIC.

  10. I’m not about to agree that “bad conduct” of the MWAA kind is equivalent to “bad conduct” of the Gov.

    In fact, without getting into TMT and JimB knickers.. too much .. trying to equivalence the two is on the road away from any kind of discriminating or rational logic.

    it bothers me greatly that we would take any given wrong-doing and just treat them all the same in significance…. essentially ..boys-will-be-boys… let’s move on.

    and then just a few minutes later talk about just how awful ALL government is from one end to the other – the blame govt for any/all including BO and bad breath movement.

    it’s ends up like 24-7 kabuki theater.

    What the GOV did is terrible. equating it to MWAA hi-jinks is delusional – IMHO of course.

    We do NOT want the standards for future governors to be what McDonnell has done. Sorry.

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