Category Archives: Ethics

Former Norfolk Sheriff Convicted of Fraud and Bribery

Former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Here is another name to add to the list of corrupt public officials — former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe.

Earlier this week, a federal jury convicted him of all 11 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The charges covered actions committed over a 22-year period. They included accepting gift cards to expensive restaurants, Redskins tickets, free catering for his annual golf tournament, an all-expenses paid trip to Nashville, “loans” that were never repaid, and thousands of dollars in cash to spend during casino trips. He was also charged with providing inside information to select companies seeking contracts with the sheriff’s office.

Testifying in his defense at his trial, McCabe admitted to violating campaign finance laws, but claimed it was not intentional. “I just didn’t pay attention to them like I should have.” He also admitted getting loans and gifts from businessmen who had multi-million dollar contracts with the city’s jail, but insisted, “I’ve never taken a bribe in my life.” The “loans” and gifts were because they were friends, he insisted. Continue reading

Campaign Finance Reform in Virginia – the New Governor Must Lead

by James C. Sherlock

I consider campaign finance reform the foremost issue facing representative government in Virginia.

We are one of only a few states with no campaign donations limits at all. We pay for that in legislation enacted and not enacted because of the preferences of huge donors. And in the stink of legal public corruption.

It also drives way up the cost of running and keeps good people from participating.

The new governor will have to lead. Continue reading

Marijuana and Casino Legalization Linked to Increases in Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Paul Krizek (D-Pamunkey Nation)

by James C. Sherlock

We know what is going to happen.

Dr. Daniel Carey M.D., Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, will soon apply to the federal government for funding for substance abuse prevention grants.

He knows.

He plans to tell the federal government that additional people, mostly poor and Black, are going to suffer and die from mental illness and substance abuse because we legalized marijuana, casinos and sports betting.

But apparently we did it for a good cause — equity — or so some say.

The opening statement of that draft application reads:

Statewide Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Behavioral Health and Substance Use

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting health impact, uncertainty, social isolation, and economic distress are expected to substantially increase the behavioral health needs of Virginians. Increased alcohol, substance use, including increased overdose rates are key concerns, as well as COVID-19 impacts already evident in Virginia.

Continue reading

Is DOJ’s Focus on Healthcare Monopolies Coming to Virginia?

by James C. Sherlock

The Acting head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, Richard A. Powers, yesterday delivered a speech that described the Justice Department’s new goals, strategies and resources for criminal antitrust enforcement.

The clouds have darkened over Virginia’s healthcare monopolies.

The Commonwealth. Virginia has failed in its duty to oversee its healthcare industry.  The full extent of that failure has been detailed in previous columns.

It has failed in two major ways:

  1. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been captured by the healthcare provider industry that it regulates. Indeed VDH has been actively complicit in industry evasion of antitrust statutes through its administration of Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law.
  2. The Commonwealth’s regulatory structure has a strategic vulnerability. Neither the VDH that regulates providers nor the State Corporation Commission that regulates insurers can adequately oversee integrated health care delivery and insurance companies to prevent or detect what amount to internal conspiracies in restraint of trade. In the wrong hands, integrated provider monopolies and regionally powerful insurers can serve as weapons against competitors to both.

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Herd Immunity Versus Herd Insanity

by James A. Bacon

Like 450 other higher-ed institutions across the United States, the University of Virginia will require all students to be fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 vaccine if they want to return to classes this fall. The mandate extends to the 2,800 students who got the virus and now enjoy acquired immunities. Oddly, the mandate does not include university employees, even though they are older on average and more likely to catch and spread the virus.

Virginia may be reaching herd immunity as the number of confirmed cases rapidly approaches zero, but UVa can be fairly said to have reached herd insanity — the phenomenon of following other colleges and universities issuing vaccine mandates because everyone is issuing them.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking the university to reveal UVa President Jim Ryan’s justification for asking the Board of Visitors to approve the mandate. No explanation is forthcoming. The university says that the president’s “working papers” are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Judging by the comments on that post (150 at this point), readers were more fixated on the scientific and moral dimensions of the policy than UVa’s lack of transparency, so I turn to that issue today.

While pro- and anti-mandate advocates were contending on Bacon’s Rebellion, Aaron Kheriaty and Gerard F. Bradley published a column in the Wall Street Journal that clarified several aspects of the debate. Continue reading

Clean Virginia Dissed Again, Dem Takes Dom Cash

An image of Hala Alaya’s answer to a question on Clean Virginia’s candidate questionnaire, released by it in response to her breaking of that pledge.

by Steve Haner

Prince William Democrat Hala Ayala, who had pledged not to accept campaign contributions from Dominion Energy Virginia and took money instead from its opponents, has now accepted $100,000 from the regulated monopoly. Heads are exploding.

Del. Haya Ayala, D-Prince William

The anti-Dominion activist group Clean Virginia had given her $25,000 in her bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.  Now is has announced it will dump $125,000 into a last-ditch digital campaign to defeat her in the June 8 primary. Early voting in the primary has been underway for weeks, however. Early voters upset by this cannot call their ballots back.

Final pre-primary finance reports were released early in the week and word of the contribution quickly hit the Twitterverse, then sparked stories in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch and Virginia Mercury. Continue reading

VDOE Transgender Policies Dangerous to Both Children and School Personnel

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools is a bigger mess the more I study it.

It is as far as I can tell unprecedented in scope. I checked parallel California, D.C. and Arlington County policies. None of them comes close to the dangerous nonsense in Virginia’s new Model Policies.

Even if we ignore the legal, medical, ethical and parental rights issues, which we won’t, Model Policies will prove untenable in any school that tries to comply.

We absolutely need to make transgender students feel safe at school and not discriminate against them in any way.  Arlington County has done it well in my view. But the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) (Department) new regulation fails every test of professionalism and common sense with its attempt to address those needs.

Be assured however that Model Policies meets key tests of radical progressivism.

  • Its prescriptions challenge the tenets of every major religion and the ethics of people who care about ethics;
  • It is unsupported by evidence or common sense, uncaring of consequences, unachievable by sentient adults; and
  • It is mandatory.

Continue reading

Honor: Antiquarian Concept or Our Best Hope?

VMI Waters Down Drum-Out Ceremony

by James A. Bacon

Two Virginia Military Institute students were drummed out at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday after admitting to cheating off each other on a math assignment, according to an email disseminated by the president of VMI’s student-run Honor Court. As in the past, the entire 1,700-member student body was awakened to the beating of drums and assembled outdoors to hear the announcement. This time, for the first time, the names were not announced, reports the Washington Post.

VMI’s interim superintendent, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, made the decision January to stop publicly identifying expelled students. Wins told the Post that he had consulted with the Office of the Attorney General about whether the disclosure of expelled cadets’ names violated their federal privacy rights. The decision to change the ritual was made “based on advice from legal counsel.” Continue reading

The Honor Code Is the Heart of the VMI Experience

by Carmen Villani

Honor does not see color of skin. Honor does not see gender. Honor does not see socioeconomic status. What it does see is the “dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — judging a person based upon content of his or her character.

Honor is not a casual word that is tossed around and then largely ignored at the Virginia Military Institute. It is the essence and foundation of the VMI Experience. This system is predicated upon character and starts with the Honor Code — a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those that do. That code is not “suspended,” waived by granting “amnesty,” or compromised by circumstance. It is the moral compass for those who currently wear the VMI uniform and those who have. It is fiercely guarded by the Corps of Cadets and alumni alike. Violation of the Honor Code is not an option if a cadet expects to graduate from VMI. Continue reading

WaPo Nabs Polk Award, Is Pulitzer Next?

Ian Shapira

By Peter Galuszka

How ironical.

Our esteemed Jim Bacon has been on a tear in recent months writing about media coverage of the problem of systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute.

Of special interest to Jim is the reporting of Ian Shapira, a Washington Post reporter who has been digging into the VMI. After his stories were published, the superintendent of VMI retired and an inquiry was launched.

Jim doesn’t like what the Post and Shapira have done. Some of Jim’s headlines go right to the jugular including “VMI Update: The WaPo Makes Another Sleazy Insinuation” and  “WaPo Ratchets Up Assault on VMI.”

At one point, Jim made this observation: “Polish up that Pulitzer. It looks like The Washington Post is vying again for the big prize in journalism”

Well, guess what happened? Shapira and the Post have won a George Polk award for their VMI coverage. The citation reads thusly: Continue reading

Certificate of Public Need’s Hall of Mirrors

by James C. Sherlock

Versailles Hall of Mirrors

In Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, everything is reflected hundreds of times.

The mirrors were also a commercial. They represented an effort of Louis XIV to establish for France monopolies on the production of luxury goods.

Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law and regulations represent a similar structure.

Everything in the process reflects back on itself. Those reflections both reinforce the structure and cement monopolies. Though it represents the intrigue of Versailles, COPN lacks beauty and grace. But, in another similarity, neither Louis nor Virginia’s General Assembly tried to represent the interests of the people in these enterprises.

This essay will help explain how COPN works. It would be shorter if the tentacles of COPN were not so completely enveloping and self-reinforcing. This is in its entirety both legal and a scandal, as with much else in Virginia politics.

Two recent COPN decisions affect my home area of South Hampton Roads. Those cases pointed to the systemic roadblocks to successfully challenging Sentara Healthcare’s dominance here which will never be surmounted while COPN stands as is. Continue reading

Sentara and the Judge

by James C. Sherlock

Updated Feb. 23 at 2:15 pm

In an ongoing series of reports, Ray Locker, enterprise and investigative editor of the Checks and Balances Project, has exposed a story with far-reaching implications.

Norfolk Circuit Court Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall sat in judgment on a case, Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r,  in which Sentara was an included defendant.  

It appears from that reporting that she could have recused herself for two reasons:

  • prior to her appointment to the bench Judge Hall not only had represented Sentara for years in another COPN case; but also
  • the judge’s co-attorney on that previous COPN case, Jamie B. Martin of Williams Mullin, was Sentara’s attorney in Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r.

From Mr. Locker’s first article:

The Virginia Canons of Judicial Conduct says this about judicial impartiality:

“(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned”

Further under Canon 2,

“The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity and impartiality is impaired.”

My own additional research into published Norfolk Circuit Court opinions shows that Judge Hall sat in judgment on cases in that court involving Sentara as well as on Chesapeake Hosp. Auth. v. State Health Comm’r.  This case was filed in Chesapeake Circuit Court.

The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, who is charged with overseeing judicial conduct, assigned the case to Judge Hall

Chief Justice Lemons of the Virginia Supreme Court asked Judge Hall to sit by designation in Chesapeake in place of the judges of the First Judicial Circuit (Chesapeake) and hear the case. She accepted. He made the appointment on July 31, 2018.

There would be three possible reasons to import a judge:

  1. Chief Justice Lemons assessed that there were no judges on the Chesapeake Circuit with the experience to hear a COPN case; or
  2. he assessed that the Chesapeake Circuit judges were conflicted or could have been considered so; or
  3. The Chesapeake Circuit had more cases than judges at that point.

There is no indication in the record of why Judge Hall was imported in this case.

Continue reading

Baby Steps Toward Campaign Finance Reform

Del. Marcus Simon
Photo credit: Bob Brown/AP

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Virginia law prohibits a candidate for public office from converting “excess” campaign funds to her personal use when closing out her campaign finance account. However, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from using campaign funds for personal, non-campaign related, purposes during a campaign.

Ever since his first General Assembly session (2014), Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, has introduced legislation to prohibit any personal use of campaign funds. Year after year, the bill died, with no recorded vote, until the 2019 session, when subcommittee votes were required to be recorded. That year, the bill died, 4-3, in subcommittee, with the four votes against it cast by Republicans. Last year, the bill was carried over again. Continue reading

Consumer Reports Misleads on Virginia EV Bill

Great Seal of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Few media outlets are as influential with their readership as Consumer Reports or as active in soliciting direct contact of public officials on issues that management feels are important to that publication’s political values. That is their right, but false statements in support of their positions is a violation of public trust.

I received yesterday afternoon in my email a solicitation for political action in Virginia pushed out by Consumer Reports to all subscribers. It read:

Earlier this week, the Virginia House of Delegates approved an exciting piece of legislation that would allow the state to make it easier for consumers to buy fuel-efficient and electric vehicles at car dealerships in the Commonwealth.

That in turn could help drivers save money on fuel and reduce our air pollution: a win-win no matter how you slice it.

But before the bill can get signed into law, it must pass through the Senate by next week. Can you send a message to your VA Senator now and ask them to vote YES on House Bill 1965?

Continue reading