Tag Archives: cuccinelli

At Last, a Transportation Plan from Cuccinelli

A data matrix for transportation.

A congestion matrix database for transportation.

by James A. Bacon

Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has unveiled his long-awaited transportation plan. It’s a mixed bag — it has some good ideas and some not-so-good ideas. But at least he has a plan. As far as I can tell, his rival Terry McAuliffe has articulated no transportation-related ideas beyond, “Build, Baby, Build.” In other words, Cuccinelli would move the state in the direction of useful reform, however imperfectly, while McAuliffe would continue Business As Usual.

The Matrix Revolutions. The centerpiece of the Cuccinelli plan is establishment of a “Virginia congestion matrix database” to use in establishing project priorities based on traffic congestion and road capacity. The matrix would measure “a number of equally weighted variables, including population, volume of licensed drivers, volume of automobiles, volume of motor carriers, vehicle miles traveled, number of businesses, roadway incidents, response time and infrastructure age and condition.” Then, the state would rank the “top 100 most congested roadways” on VDOT’s public dashboard so that the public could begin planning future projects.

Assuming the wording in his plan is precise, Cuccinelli proposes to publicly rank roadways by congestion only. There’s nothing terribly wrong with ranking  by congestion, but the focus pushes other considerations into the shadows. Traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities cost the economy three times as much as congestion. Why not focus on them? The ranking also overlooks the fact that road projects vary widely in the impact they have upon property values. Some projects create value, others actually destroy it. What we need is a measure that ranks transportation projects — roads, highways, bridges, mass transit, smart roads, whatever — by economic return on investment. The ROI measure should incorporate not only congestion metrics but safety metrics and, to the extent that they can be reduced to believable numbers, pollution and wealth-creation metrics as well.

Devolution revolution. Still, the broader idea of ranking road projects by objective criteria is a good one. And it would dovetail nicely with the second important piece of the Cuccinelli plan, decentralizing the transportation system.

“One of the fundamental reasons why our state has been plagued by transportation problems for decades is an undeniable lack of decision making and buy-in at the local level,” states the plan. A Cuccinelli administration would make it a priority to devolve decision-making for secondary roads to local governments, which, as he notes, are the entities that make land-use decisions. The plan would start by turning over secondary roads to four counties with populations of 250,000 or more — Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Chesterfield — which presumably have the administrative resources to take on the responsibility. In time, roads would devolve to counties with populations of 100,000 or more.

To pay for the new obligations, Cuccinelli envisions giving localities money in the form of block grants that VDOT spends now on secondary roads. Counties have resisted devolution for fear that the state would not provide them with enough resources to maintain their roads properly. Cuccinelli acknowledges the problem: “Some counties will be wary of taking over secondary roads that are deteriorated or have been behind schedule for maintenance.” The state might have to bring up the roads to standard before turning them over to localities. He also proposes allowing localities to lease large construction and snow-removal equipment from the state or to actually turn over the equipment “to cover initial capital costs,” and he says the state should no longer accept newly constructed subdivision roads for maintenance.

Will that induce counties to assume responsibility for their roads? I’m skeptical. Cuccinelli will have to sweeten the pot or face intense local-government resistance.

New funding formula. In another guaranteed source of controversy, Cuccinelli would revamp the formula for distributing construction and maintenance funds for secondary roads. The current formula distributes money to nine transportation districts on the basis of lane-miles for cities and towns and “need,” as determined by the condition of roads and bridges, for counties. Cucinelli says he would “replace the current city-county formula with a new formula based on the results of the matrix system identified above that would take into account road usage and economic development.”

A formula that incorporated road usage would radically skew the dollars to where the traffic is: Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. I’m not saying that’s a bad idea — but it is a controversial one. There would be major winners and losers. The Commonwealth Transportation Board broached the subject two years ago and, after extensive study, dropped it.

Bacon’s bottom line: Frankly, the plan shows signs of having been rushed out to make good on Cuccinelli’s promise that he would have a plan. It’s got some good ideas — at least it tries to address glaring flaws in the existing system — but it needs work. The ideal outcome for Virginians would be to combine the best devolution piece from Cuccinelli’s plan with the legislative package outlined by House Speaker William J. Howell a month ago. Then you’d  see real reform.

Update: The Washington Times quotes Cuccinelli in a good wrap-summary of his philosophy: ““When we spend transportation dollars, I intend to move as far along the road of cost-benefit analysis — how much congestion relief do you get per dollar spent here versus your alternative here? Which one beats it? I’m perfectly comfortable spending on rails, roads, hot air balloons — whatever actually moves people most efficiently, cost effectively. Least money for the most transportation, whatever mode that is. But if localities take on what amount to those sorts of economic development programs, they need to take them on.”

Ken Has His 47% Moment

Some have put forth the sentiment that the Virginia GOP is really not a theocratic organization. An article in the Huffington Post cites the discovery of a speech by the “Cooch” given last year to the Christian Life Summit stating that the Republican candidate for governor was surprised that God had not imposed punishments on the USA for making abortion legal. This comment evokes memories made in the wake of 9/11 when Jerry Falwell blamed the attack on America’s gay population. Haven’t we had enough of the type of  religious bigotry put forth as mainstream politics??

– Les Schreiber

I’ll lend Cuccinelli $18,000

Dear Mr. Cuccinelli:

I was shocked and saddened to hear of your personal financial issues. Last Friday you and Mr. McAuliffe went to Manassas to engage in yet another issue-free venom-spitting session. During the session you were asked about the possibility of paying back the value of the inappropriate gifts you took from Star Scientific’s CEO – Jonnie Williams. You said, “You mean just write a check? If I could do that, I just might do that. But that’s just not something I can do, from my family’s perspective.” After the event your campaign manager tried to translate this Cuccinelliism into English. He said, “As a father of seven children, like most Virginians, he needs to manage a family budget, and his comment simply reflected that reality.”

Since clarity of expression is obviously not a hallmark of the Cuccinelli campaign, let me try to summarize your plight. Despite graduating from a very expensive private high school, despite earning an engineering degree from the University of Virginian, despite having a law degree and another advanced degree in international finance, despite owning a law firm, despite drawing a salary of $150,000 per year as Attorney General you don’t have $18,000 in liquid savings. You are a 45-year-old man with three college degrees and a six- figure salary but you can’t find enough money to buy half a new car. Just out of curiosity, what did you do with the $30,000 you got for that book?

Anyway, I am willing to lend you the $18,000 you need to pay back the value of the inappropriate gifts you took from Mr. Williams. I am doing this out of a sense of civic duty and charity. Civic duty compels me to do what I can to help rid Virginia of the stain of Giftgate. Charity compels me to help a person who has obviously squandered the many economic opportunities he has received. I hope that as a father of seven you learn to spend less and save more in the future.

This is a loan and not a gift. Therefore, I will charge you LIBOR +8% as interest on the loan.  I apologize for the relatively high interest rate but you are clearly a credit risk. You will have to pay me the interest on the loan at the end of every calendar year. The principal will be due at the end of 10 years or earlier if you choose to pay off the loan before the end of 10 years. In addition, you must promise to stop taking gifts from non-relatives and stop speculating in Star Scientific stock. Gifts got you into this mess and you obviously lack the financial acumen for investing.

Given my offer I hope you will stop claiming that you can’t repay the value of the inappropriate gifts you took from Mr. Williams.

Yours truly,

DJ Rippert

Another Take On Cuccinelli’s Vague Road Plan

cooch.pixBy Peter Galuszka

So far, Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for Virginia governor has been long on rhetoric and short on specifics. Such was the case with his piece on Sunday’s Washington Post  Local Opinions page headlined: “Taking the politics of roads funding in Virginia.”

What caught my eye were two of Cuccinelli’s ideas. The first is that building roads and other transportation links in the state is a muddle of cronyism that can be laid at the feet of Democrats – a curious observation since almost all of the big road projects undertaken in the state since 2010 have been the brainchildren of Republicans.

The second idea is even more intriguing. Political hacks pick Virginia’s road projects in that swamp known as Richmond, Cuccinelli says. So, Cuccinelli wants to introduce some kind of “point system” that will track traffic congestion in localities. This empirical point regime will then be used to pick which road ideas get funded and when.

As he writes: “Instead of political reasoning, my administration would rely on a statewide traffic congestion index to determine how new construction is prioritized. Every locality in Virginia would have independent trigger mechanisms — based on quantifiable measures of traffic congestion and road capacity — that would determine funding and prioritization of projects. No matter how vigorously certain localities or special interests try to sway lawmakers in Richmond, every new project would be considered under the same guidelines.”

Interesting idea, but how would it work? Cuccinelli says he’ll spell out details “in coming weeks.” My understanding is that under the current system, localities and the Virginia Department of Transportation make plans for new roads and include congestion relief as part of their analysis. They then go to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which sets priorities.

It isn’t clear whether Cuccinelli would replace the board or what else he might do. Eliminating the CTB would be a very big deal. But we don’t know yet.

Cuccinelli notes that he tried as a legislator to reform planning and funding by allowing congestion-prone Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to set their own taxes. That’s actually a good idea. Having Richmond dictate everything goes back to Virginia’s stubborn use of the so-called “Dillon Rule,” which dates back about a century to a long-gone jurist who thought that localities should only have the power afforded to them by their state capitals.

What I don’t get, however, is why Cuccinelli tries to paint Democrats like his opponent Terry McAuliffe as being the centers of road cronyism. In recent years, McDonnell and his Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, a fellow Republican, have been steamrolling ahead with a number of new projects of questionable value, such as a toll superhighway paralleling U.S. 460 in southeastern Virginia and a north-south connector near Manassas.

Is Cuccinelli running against McDonnell or McAuliffe? It isn’t clear. Meanwhile, I anxiously await details on his road point system plan.

(Note: I had the same idea Jim Bacon this morning and sent it to the Washington Post which used it in their online Local Opinions section. I had intended to also post it on the Rebellion but Bacon beat me to the punch. PG)

Cuccinelli Hints at New Formula for Road Construction

congestionRepublican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has yet to roll out his promised comprehensive transportation plan, but he hinted in a Washington Post op-ed Friday that he won’t mince around with baby steps when he does.

Instead of political reasoning, my administration would rely on a statewide traffic congestion index to determine how new construction is prioritized. Every locality in Virginia would have independent trigger mechanisms — based on quantifiable measures of traffic congestion and road capacity — that will determine funding and prioritization of projects. No matter how vigorously certain localities or special interests try to sway lawmakers in Richmond, every new project would be considered under the same guidelines.

The numbers — not the lobbyists — will dictate Virginia’s transportation projects if I am elected governor. Our plan will allow for significantly more transparency and public input, which I believe will have a positive impact on the system.

The move toward standardized decision-making based upon defined metrics sounds promising. I have long called for prioritizing transportation projects on a Return on Investment basis that optimizes congestion mitigation and safety. This tantalizing preview sounds like a move in the right direction but Virginians will have to know the particulars before passing judgment. Among the questions that must be addressed:

  • Which metrics will be employed? Would traffic mitigation be the sole goal or would safety considerations be part of the mix? Remember, according to the American Automobile Association, the economic cost nationally of automobile accidents, injuries and fatalities is three times that of congestion.
  • Would the funding formula for distribution of construction dollars between highway districts, and localities within highway districts, remain the same? Or, with the new emphasis on congestion, would  dollars flow to regions and localities with the worst congestion, regardless of how much they paid into the system?
  • Would the proposed formula encourage local governments to make more responsible land use decisions, or would it bail out localities that experience more congestion because they made the biggest hash of coordinating transportation with land use?
  • Would there be flexibility for transportation planning officials to override the metrics in special cases where other factors, such as economic development, need to be considered?

Whatever the details, Cuccinelli’s proposal should stimulate a productive dialogue. For the past four years or more, debate has focused almost entirely on how to put more money into the system — regardless of how it would be spent. Cuccinelli appears willing to accept McDonnell’s 2013 transportation tax restructuring as a starting point going forward but wants to shift the discussion to how the money is spent. I don’t see how Virginia can lose by having that conversation.

– JAB

Cuccinelli, Penguins and Natural Gas

pittsburgh-penguins-j-black016By Peter Galuszka

Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s strange episode involving a natural gas lawsuit involving one of his largest political contributors for his gubernatorial campaign raises yet another issue about his ethics.

First, whatever was a Cuccinelli staffer doing advising a subsidiary of coal and gas giant CONSOL Energy, which has given Cuccinelli more than $110,000 in political contributions? The case involved a dispute over compensation that energy firms apparently do not pay to landowners but are supposed to for natural gas they extract from their land.

One would think that the state’s top law officer would either be neutral or would be representing the smaller players who don’t have the legal deep pockets of large corporations.

In any event, a U.S. Magistrate blew the whistle on Cuccinelli’s office’s behavior, saying it was shocking. Now there is a call by State Sen. Phillip Puckett, a Democrat from the Southwest, asking  that the state Inspector General review Cuccinelli’s behavior.

This is just a long line of odd doings that have come up regarding the attorney general since he started running in earnest for governor without resigning. He is out of legal action regarding the Star Scientific scandal because he owned stock in the firm and took gifts that he did not readily report as required. Ditto the ChefGate scandal involving theft charges against Todd Schneider, Gov. Robert McDonnell’s former executive chef.

No question there’s a pattern. It’s odd that it didn’t seem to show up earlier in Cuccinelli’s political career since he had been a state senator for about a decade. I don’t know if there was a pattern of accepting gifts in exchange for apparent favors then, but there certainly has been in the past several years.

The Virginian-Pilot has reported that Cuccinelli has been feted by Pittsburgh energy firm CONSOL which operates coal mines and gas wells in Southwestern Virginia. Virginia isn’t exactly a major coal producer, but CONSOL saw fit to fete treat the attorney general to a fund-raiser at a Pittsburgh Penguin hockey game this spring. Cuccinelli’s parents live in Pittsburgh. CONSOL also has donated thousands of dollars to his campaign.

The peculiar interference by a Cuccinelli staffer “advising” CONSOL and another firm smacks of shenanigans more common in West Virginia where the interplay between energy firms and politicians is a lot more obvious.

Don Blankenship, the notorious former CEO of Richmond-based Massey Energy, got plenty of bad headlines when he went on a French Riviera vacation with the state’s top appeals judge who was in a position to influence Massey’s many lawsuits. West Virginia elects its judges so Blankenship let his donations flow.

That story ended badly, with 29 miners dead in a horrible coal mine disaster in 2010. Blankenship was cashiered with an $86 million parachute and Massey was sold to Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources.

The sad thing is that Puckett’s calls for a probe will likely go nowhere. Virginia has never been known for cracking down on political donations. Its policy is hands-off. There is no State Ethics Commission to investigate. The best the state can do is rely on a non-profit, the Virginia Public Access Project, to collect and massage data on who gets what from whom, but as the McDonnell and Cuccinelli cases have shown, that information is useless if the data in is incorrect or misleading.

True, in any campaign there are plenty of accusations. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is a master of fund-raising and far beats Cuccinelli in terms of dollars raised.

It might be oddly reassuring if Cuccinelli’s guile was all part of some cynical ploy. But it doesn’t seem that way. It just seems stupid.

Cuccinelli’s Starring Role in “As the Crony Turns”

cooch envelopeCorruptinelli rides again.  Ken Cuccinelli’s actions in favor of crony capitalists and campaign contributors are raising eyebrows again.  In the last episode of “As the Crony Turns” our Attorney General and candidate for governor developed selective amnesia when it came to fulfilling the legal requirement of reporting his investment in Star Scientific as well as gifts from Star Scientific’s CEO.  After recovering his memory he decided that perhaps his office shouldn’t lead the state’s case against Star Scientific.  In this installment of the regularly scheduled program Mr. Cuccinelli’s Office of the Attorney General is helping out of state energy concerns fight a legal battle against Virginia citizens.  Oh, did I mention – one of the out-of-state energy companies has contributed over $100,000 to Mr. Cuccinelli’s campaigns.

Cronyism – the Virginia way.  The issue at hand is instructive in understanding how crony capitalism works in Virginia.  The Virginia Gas and Oil Board is yet another un-elected body appointed by the governor.  As the board’s website states, ” The Board hears appeals from persons who believe they have been aggrieved by a decision/order under the Virginia Gas and Oil Act related to the promulgation and enforcement of rules, regulations, and orders necessary to ensure the safe and efficient development and production of gas and oil resources located in Virginia.” Since the board is a governmental body, the state’s Office of the Attorney General provides legal advice to the board.

One of the board’s more important functions is adjudicating disputes between energy exploration companies and the people who own the land with the gas and oil rights.  The Virginia Oil and Gas Board has a long and inept history of botching the claims of individuals against energy companies.  In fact, Daniel Gilbert of the Bristol Herald Courier won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his eight- part article on the matter.  He calculated that the everyday people who own the land with the oil and gas are owed $24M.

Here comes ‘da judge.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent is not like Ken Cuccinelli. Unlike Cuccinelli she was born in Virginia.  Unlike Cuccinelli she was educated in the Virginia public school system. Unlike Cuccinelli she knows the history of energy exploration in Southwest Virginia. Her grandfather died in a coal mining accident and her father lost an arm in another mine accident. Unlike Cuccinelli she doesn’t think the Virginia Oil and Gas Board or the AG’s office should help out-of-state companies deny compensation to Virginia landowners. Here’s what she had to say about the actions of the Office of the Attorney General, “Shockingly, these emails show that the Board, or at least Pigeon, has been actively involved in assisting EQT and CNX with the defense of these cases, including offering advice on and providing information for use on the Motions before the court.”

Follow the money.  One of the two companies involved in this legal wrangling is Consol Energy (which trades as CNX).  Consol has donated over $111,000 to Cuccinelli for Governor over the last 12 months.

Dance of the sugar plum apologists. No doubt the usual Richmond apologists will say that no scandal has been committed since no scandal has been chiseled into stone regarding this matter.  Therefore, the fact that a federal judge is railing against the state’s sitting Attorney General for his office’s advocacy of a company which donates heavily to his campaign is irrelevant.  That explanation may work for the Richmond elite. However, those of us Virginians living outside the friendly confines of Richmond see something else – a systematically corrupt state government which trades in an almost endless array of gifts, unlimited campaign contributions and crony capitalism.

-D.J. Rippert

Business Taxes Not a Problem State Gov’t Should Try to Solve

Maybe Richmond doesn't know best.

Maybe Richmond doesn’t know best.

by James A. Bacon

Both Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli have proposed reducing or eliminating three locally imposed business taxes — the Business Professional Occupation Licensing (BPOL) tax, the Machinery and Tool (M&T) tax and the Merchants Capital (MC) tax. Both sides of the partisan divide agree that Virginia should be able to find a way to raise local tax revenue that doesn’t discourage business activity and investment.

I’m totally in favor of scrapping the business taxes, but it’s not so easily accomplished. According to the center-left Commonwealth Institute, local governments collected $899 million in 2012 from the three business taxes — 6.2% of locally generated tax revenue statewide.

“All but two of Virginia’s 171 cities, towns, and counties collect at least one of these local taxes, according to a survey by the state’s auditor: 130 collect BPOL, 153 collect M&T, and 47 collect MC taxes,” states CI in a new position paper. Cities and towns are especially reliant upon the taxes. Also, as a generality, lower-income and less property-rich localities are more reliant upon them.

How could localities offset the lost? Not the income tax, argues CI — that is largely proscribed for local government in Virginia. Not the meals and lodging tax — 75% of Virginia localities already have one. That effectively means higher property taxes… unless the state reimburses local governments for lost revenue. But Virginia has already tried that once, with the car tax, and it didn’t work out so well. As CI reminds us:

The “Personal Property Tax Relief Act” of 1998 sought to eliminate the locally imposed car tax, but the cost of reimbursing the local car tax was such a drain on state revenues that the General Assembly was never able to give 100 percent reimbursement and had to cap it at just 70 percent in 2002. Then, beginning in 2006, reimbursements were frozen at $950 million and distributed based on each locality’s 2005 reimbursement.

I totally understand the desire to eliminate the business taxes, but there are inherent difficulties in using state revenues to make up for lost local revenues. Eliminating the car tax bestowed its blessings very unevenly around the state: Jurisdictions with higher tax rates got back a lot more money than those with lower tax rates. The same would be true if the state eliminated BPOL and its cousins. I am open to clever ways to solve the problem but I am skeptical that any exist.

Raise property taxes instead. If business taxes are bad for business, perhaps local governments should take the lead in eliminating them by raising property taxes

Consider this thinking out loud. I’m playing with the idea to see where it goes. And, yeah, yeah, I know, such a move potentially would be regressive, shifting the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. But hear me out.

Local governments have enormous power to create taxable real estate value — or to destroy it — through the types of investments it makes in infrastructure and other public improvements. The more heavily local governments depend upon property tax revenues, the more focused they will be upon broadening their tax base by maximizing property values.

In an ideal world, local governments would share knowledge and adopt best practices on which investments create the most value. As I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog, public investments vary widely in economic Return on Investment. Some improvements, like parks and bike/pedestrian-friendly streets, create value. Other so-called “improvements” — like street-road hybrids known as stroads – destroy economic value. One way to measure economic value created and destroyed is to measure the change in property value. In theory, shifting to the property tax could incentivize local governments to invest their capital budgets in ways that enhance property values. Aligning local government incentives with wealth creation is a good way to create more wealth.

Cuccinelli: Promote Economic Development by Creating Level Playing Field

cuccinelliby James A. Bacon

In a press conference this morning at a Richmond SweetFrog restaurant, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli laid out the philosophical principle that would guide his approach to economic development if he were elected governor: Create a level playing field for all businesses rather than incentives for a lucky few.

He would close tax loopholes carved out for special interests, restructure the tax code to eliminate local business taxes and reduce the top corporate income tax rate from 6% to 4%, and he would pare way back on grants and tax breaks used as economic incentives. “Relative to what you’ve seen in the past, I would take a much harder view” of incentives, he said.

Cuccinelli said he would follow the example of Governor Bob McDonnell in making job creation his top priority. But he has no intention of playing a wheeler-dealer in seeking big corporate investments. Instead, he wants to create a tax climate that is more attractive to job creators by lowering taxes for every Virginia business.

The presumed Republican gubernatorial nominee was introduced by Vance Spilman, chief operating officer of Sweet Frogs, a chain of yogurt shops that opened in 2009, now has 250 locations around the country and is preparing to expand overseas. Sweet Frogs is profitable, Spilman said, and it is reinvesting its profits to grow the enterprise, which currently provides jobs for about 400 Virginians. Reducing the corporate income tax from 6% to 4% would allow the company to grow faster, he said.

Cuccinelli’s plan contained only a few specifics. He would:

  • Reduce the top individual income tax rate from 5.75% to 5% over four years beginning in 2014.
  • Establish a Small Business Tax Relief Commission with the goal of reducing the state corporate income tax and eliminating or reducing local Business Professional Occupational License (BPOL), Machine and Tool (M&T), and Merchants Capital (MC) taxes.
  • Pay for those tax reductions by eliminating outdated tax exemptions and loopholes “that promote crony capitalism” and by limiting the growth of General Fund spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth.

If his revenue cap had applied to the current fiscal year, in which spending increased 5.8% and inflation + population growth increased 3.3%, his formula would have saved $530 million.

Cuccinelli did not say specifically which loopholes he would cut, although he did endorse a proposal outlined by Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and Del. R. Lee Ware, R-Chesterfield, that would have closed about $75 million in loopholes. He also said that service-sector exemptions for the sales tax would be “on the table,” although he ruled out extending the sales tax to education or health care.

Curtailing incentives, broadening the tax base and lowering tax rates would be “fairer” and create opportunity for all business, he said.

The candidate also highlighted the “unique window of opportunity” presented by the expansion of the Panama Canal and Hampton Roads’ temporary status as the only East Coast port with channels deep enough to accommodate fully loaded post-Panamax vessels. The next governor, he said, needs to maximize that opportunity, which is expected to last only three or four years, by participating actively in state marketing efforts to attract more port cargo and more distribution centers.

The Myth of Cuccinelli the “Straight Shooter”

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Ken Cuccinelli spends a lot of time admiring himself. He’s long on portraying himself as a heroic figure fighting federal over-reach and short on the self-deprecating humor that evinces a certain level of humility. This habit is particularly notable when it comes to being a “straight shooter.” At the recent CPAC conference Cuccinelli gave a keynote speech. He almost threw his shoulder out of joint patting himself on the back and congratulating himself on being a “straight shooter.” But is he?

Kill Bill.  There is little doubt that Cuccinelli and his henchmen short circuited the democratic process in order to make sure he was the Republican nominee for governor. Cuccinelli used a deal from the smoke-filled back rooms of the Republican Party of Virginia to avoid an open primary in favor of a convention.  Cuccinelli knew that the extremists who frequent Republican conventions would put him on the ballot. Apparently, he was less sure of the rank and file Republicans who would have voted in an open primary. Not the straightest of shots there.

Channeling his inner Clinton. Cuccinelli’s web site, on the education section of the issues page, has this sentence:”I was raised in Fairfax County and attended public schools.”  One is led to believe that Mr. Cuccinelli’s views on education in Virginia are well formed since he is a product of Virginia’s public school system. Not so fast. Which one of Fairfax County’s many fine public high schools counts Cuccinelli as an alumnus? None of them. He went to high school at a very private, very expensive school in Washington, D.C.: Gonzaga College High School. Interestingly, the reference to Cuccinelli graduating from Gonzaga has been removed from his official biography. I am sure that Cuccinelli attended public school at some point in his life. However, shouldn’t a self-proclaimed “straight-shooter” write, “I was raised in Fairfax County and attended a mixture of public and private schools?”

Come hell or high water. One of Cuccinelli’s rare victories against the federal government came from a case where the Environmental Protection Agency wanted to force Fairfax County and Virginia to cut back on sediment pollution caused by runoff into the Accotink Creek. Cuccinelli derisively accused the EPA of trying to regulate water as a pollutant. That statement is an outright lie. Cuccinelli personally argued the case. The judge’s opinion states, “Both parties agree that sediment is a pollutant and stormwater is not.” I guess “straight shooters” can take a little liberty with the truth when it suits their needs. H/T – Blue Virginia.

Rippert’s Read Out.  Cuccinelli is as slippery as a greased eel. He uses back- room deals to stab members of his own party in the back. He ignores the teachings of the Jesuits at Gonzaga High School and lies through omission about his own educational background. He knowingly lies about the EPA in his comments regarding the Accotink case. Cuccinelli a straight shooter? Yeah, and I’m Brad Pitt’s brother.

– D.J. Rippert