Category Archives: Money in politics

College Faculty Don’t “Think Like America”

by James A. Bacon

It has become a widespread conviction on Virginia’s colleges and universities that faculty and staff should “look like Virginia” in their demographic make-up. There is no comparable obsession with hiring faculty and staff that “think like Virginia.”

Employees of James Madison University — faculty, staff, and administrators — donated more than $148,000 to Democratic Party candidates and political committees between November 2018 and November 2020, according to research conducted by Campus Reform. In other words, 92.9% of all JMU employees who made political donations gave to Democratic candidates or Democratic-aligned organizations such as Act Blue and Biden for President. Conversely, only 7.90% of campus money went to right-leaning candidates and organizations.

And that makes JMU the most conservative of the three public universities researched.

Radford University employees donated $46,003 to the Left side of the political spectrum compared to $3,660 to the conservative side — 94.0% compared to 6.0%. Continue reading

Personnel is Policy On Future Energy Reform

SCC Commissioner Angela Navarro, whose term ends January 31, 2022.

by Steve Haner

Does Tuesday’s election result mean Virginia is going to move back towards a rational energy policy? Watch two key personnel decisions, both entirely matters for the next legislature to decide.

State Corporation Commissioner Angela Navarro was elected by the 2021 General Assembly to fill the unexpired term of Mark Christie, who moved to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. His SCC term was expiring January 31, 2022, so hers does too, putting her up for reconsideration immediately.

A former staff lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, she was an architect and advocate for the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act. Key decisions on that are beginning to fill the SCC docket, the largest being the next Dominion integrated resource plan and the first tranche of offshore wind development.

Will the new Republican majority in the House of Delegates deny Navarro a full term and choose another judge less associated with that bill? Well, the oldest rule in the legislature is “what goes around comes around.” When the Democrats took full control of the Assembly in the 2020 session, former Commissioner Patricia West was seeking an extension on her partial SCC term that began in 2019.

She was denied that extension, and instead replaced by Jehmal T. Hudson, who had been serving at FERC in a staff position. Continue reading

If Money Were Votes

The Virginia Public Access Project has published an interactive map, broken down by precinct that shows the dollar volumes and number of contributors to the gubernatorial campaigns of Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin. If the number of contributors were votes, Youngkin would win the race handily 12,098 to 9,346.

But McAuliffe remains the big favorite among out-of-state donors. Roughly 30% of his $57 million campaign haul has come from outside the state, compared to 9% for Youngkin.

— JAB

FEC Asked to Investigate McAuliffe’s Foreign Donations

by Hans Bader

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, was hit with a campaign finance complaint on Friday over a $350,000 donation he received from a foreign-owned company linked to overseas money laundering probe.

The National Legal and Policy Center requested that the FEC “promptly investigate” whether the donation to McAuliffe violated federal statutes prohibiting political campaigns from accepting donations from foreign nationals.
“Terry McAuliffe has a history of accepting foreign contributions. The FEC must fully investigate these serious charges that he accepted $350,000 in illegal foreign contributions for his current campaign,” said NLPC lawyer Paul Kamenar.

LycaTel LLC gave McAuliffe $350,000 in July. The company is a New Jersey subsidiary of a Sri Lankan national’s England-based telecom conglomerate, which has been the subject of fraud and money-laundering charges in France. Continue reading

Youngkin Takes the Lead

by James C. Sherlock

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Glenn Youngkin in the lead for the first time.

Nice job, Glenn.

Terry, thank you for being perhaps the worst retail politician Virginia has seen since Ken Cuccinelli.

The Loudoun Way — School Rapes by a Member of a Progressive Protected Class

Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj

by James C. Sherlock

Any time you think there is only one system of justice in America, consider these two stories I offer below, one a progressive dream and the other true.

The true story will show some progressives care more about their dogma than kids.

And any time you think only big city progressives don’t give a damn about child victims of crime, like in Chicago or New York, read the true one below.

It is underway in Loudoun County. Continue reading

More Proof Virginia Disclosure Laws are Crap

Former Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan

by Steve Haner

In 2020, according to documents filed with the State Corporation Commission, Dominion Energy Virginia paid former state Senator John Watkins $92,297 for lobbying services. At the end of the reporting period, it officially claimed spending only $1,641 for him to influence the legislative process.

In a similar manner, former Fairfax Delegate John Rust was retained over four years for a combined $265,000. But for his services in 2020, the year of the massive Virginia Clean Economy Act, Dominion’s lobbying expense disclosure listed his fee at $7,679.

The full payments to both former Republican legislators, all perfectly legal, are the subject of an online article on the Richmond Times Dispatch website, probably awaiting print publication. It also focuses on large payments made to a Hampton Roads journalist and former Democratic gubernatorial aide, which Dominion never had to disclose on any state report since buying friendly editorials isn’t covered by disclosure laws.

Add up the reported payments to all the other outside law and lobbying firms Dominion hired, compare them to the official disclosures, and a similar pattern of under reporting will be evident. The reporter missed the best part of this story — that information gap.

What do we learn here?  Anything we didn’t know? Continue reading

Virginia’s Self-Inflicted Nursing Home Crisis – Part 3 – McAuliffe & Herring

by James C. Sherlock

In the first two parts of this series, I wrote about the shortage of state inspectors for nursing homes in the Virginia Department of Health Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC)  and the continuing danger it poses to Virginia patients.

The problem, unfortunately, is much wider than just nursing homes.  So is the scandal.

That same office inspects every type of medical facility including home care agencies as well as managed care plans. Except it cannot meet the statutory requirements because it does not have sufficient personnel or money. And it have been telling the world about it for years.

Terence Richard McAuliffe was the 72nd governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. Mark Herring has been Attorney General since 2014.

We will trace below that they can reasonably be called the founding fathers of overdue inspections of medical facilities in Virginia.

VDH has been short of health inspectors since McAuliffe and Herring took office and still is .

Both of them know it. And they know that lack of inspections demonstrably causes unnecessary suffering and death.

Continue reading

Virginia’s Self-Inflicted Nursing Home Crisis — Part 2, the Business

by James C. Sherlock

Nursing homes are businesses.

Seventy percent of those in Virginia are for profit. They are run not by doctors but registered nurses with physicians on call. 

Nursing facilities very widely in size in Virginia, from the 300-bed Mulberry Creek Nursing and Rehab center in Martinsville to facilities of less than 30 beds, especially the long-term care units of a few mostly rural hospitals.

They include facilities designated as skilled nursing facilities (SNF), often post-op care and rehabilitation, and others designated as long-term-care nursing facilities (NF). Most nursing homes in Virginia have facilities and certified beds for each.

Insurer mix and staffing costs are keys to profitability.

Many of these businesses are worth what they get paid, but many are not. Continue reading

Virginia’s Self-Inflicted Nursing Home Crisis – Part 1

by James C. Sherlock

None of us ever knows when we will need a nursing home for ourselves, our parents or our kids. Yes, kids.

While long-term nursing care is mostly for older patients, skilled nursing facilities are needed for patients of all ages, including children, for shorter term post-op treatment and recovery.

The patients in many of Virginia’s nursing homes suffer greatly from a combination of known bad facilities and a lack of government inspections. The health and safety of patients in those facilities are very poorly protected by the state.  

In this series of reports I am going to point out some nursing homes (and chains) whose records will anger you. Government data show some have been horrible for a very long time in virtually every region in the state.

Those same records show that Virginia is years behind on important, federally mandated health and safety inspections.

VDH’s Office of Licensure and Certification doesn’t have enough inspectors — not even close. And the government of Virginia — officially based on budget data — not only does not care but is directly and consciously responsible.

When I am done reporting on my research I suspect you will demand more inspectors.

You will also  reasonably ask why the worst of them are still in business when the Health Commissioner has the authority to shut them down.

Good question. Continue reading

Democratic Lawmakers Threaten Spending Bill Over SALT Cap Repeal

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Tax that man behind the tree. As Congress works to pass a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package a group of “moderate” Democrats are threatening to block the spending bill unless the State and Local Tax (SALT) caps are repealed. Prior to Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, state and local taxes were fully deductible on federal income tax returns (for itemized filers). The 2017 tax law, passed at the urging of Donald Trump, limited the SALT deduction to $10,000. This cap has long rankled Democrats elected to office in high-tax, high-spending locales such as the New York metropolitan area and San Francisco. Closer to home the cap also impacts people living in Virginia’s high-cost, high-tax areas like Northern Virginia. 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

Out of the Mouths of Fund Raisers…

From a McAuliffe campaign email blast sent out under the name of Senate Mark Warner comes a remarkable confession: “Terry is having a bad week, Jim.”

How bad?

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate “finished off July with strong fundraising numbers,” said pseudo-Warner (I can’t believe the Senator actually laid eyes on this email). “But he told me since August started, contributions have plummeted — in fact, they’ve almost completely stopped.”

Terry’s “Trump-endorsed opponent” Glenn Youngkin is planning to spend $75 million of his own money, warns the email. If Dems don’t help Terry get his fundraising back on pace, he’ll have no chance of catching up.

Now, I realize that no fund-raising letter lets on that its candidate is rolling in dough and doesn’t really need your help. But admitting that the money raise has dried up, even for a week, is not something you see very often. No candidate likes to show weakness. I wonder if McAuliffe really does have a problem.

— JAB

Coming to Virginia – a New State of Emergency?

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

The Governor’s 15-month emergency powers expired June 30, and, God, does he miss them.

From The Virginian-Pilot:

“School districts that aren’t requiring masks, including several in Hampton Roads, are running afoul of state law, Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday.”

OK.

The bigger questions are

  • how long the governor will put up with the lack of emergency powers;
  • when he will start to follow Virginia’s Pandemic Emergency Annex to its Emergency Operations Plan; and
  • is the General Assembly even interested?

Continue reading

The Accelerating Scale of the Legislate-Regulate-Spend-and-Repeat Cycle Has Broken Government

by James C. Sherlock

Virginians – the state and individual citizens – have received over $81 billion in COVID-related federal funding. That comes to $9,507 for every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth.  Big money. 

That was Virginia’s share of $5.3 trillion in federal spending just on the pandemic (so far). A trillion dollars is a million million dollars. A thousand billion dollars.

For comparison, GDP was about $21 trillion in 2020  It is projected to total just short of $23 trillion this year.  The national debt is $29 trillion and growing. A little over $86,000 for every American. That figure does not include the $5 trillion in additional spending pending in the Congress.

Every day we spend $1 billion on interest with interest on the 10-year treasuries at 1.18% today. The Congressional budget office predicts 3.6% before 2027. Do the math. That is $3 billion a day — well over a trillion dollars a year — in interest. 

Relax. If you thought I was about to launch off on a discussion of drunken sailors, writing checks that our grandkids will have to make good, and the fact that inflation will drive interest payments ever upward, be reassured I am not.

This is about the demonstrated inability of many government agencies at every level to regulate, administer, oversee, spend and repeat with anything approaching efficiency or effectiveness.  Continue reading