Drip… Drip… Drip…

hazelDude, why are you even here?

So, it turns out that Governor Bob McDonnell asked Virginia’s health secretary to meet with his pal, Jonnie Williams Sr., CEO of Star Scientific. The Washington Post seems to think that such a request is worth a full-length news article in today’s newspaper.

Health Secretary Bill Hazel told the Post: “The governor said, ‘Will you talk to my wife’s friend?’ And I said, ‘I have spoken with him. But I don’t know what he wants.’ ”

Hazel recounted how he met with Williams, who pitched his Anatabloc supplement.

“I said, ‘Jonnie, what is it that you want?’ He said he wanted to get his product tested at U-Va. or [the Medical College of Virginia]. And I said, ‘You go to them for that. You don’t need us for that.’ ”

In other words, for the zillions of dollars he showered upon McDonnell and his family, Williams got nothing tangible from the governor, although the Post didn’t spin it that way. Basically, Hazel blew Williams off, and there is no suggestion that McDonnell applied any pressure for him to do anything more. People should find that reassuring.

Indeed, a pointed question might be directed at the Post’s Laura Vozella and Rosalind S. Herman. (The Post assigned not one but two reporters to the task!)  What, exactly, was the point of the story?

Is the Post insinuating that there is something shady, unethical or even unusual about governors referring friends and campaign contributors (of which Williams was both) to officials within their administration? Wake up! Gaining that kind of access is the whole point of giving money! That’s the way the game is played — by everybody!

If there’s something wrong with what McDonnell did in this regard (I’m not defending his other actions) then the entire political system of Virginia and the United States is thoroughly corrupt. Come to think of it, the entire political system probably is thoroughly corrupt, but not necessarily for the reasons the Post is fixated upon.

He did what? More disturbing is the revelation today from the Times-Dispatch that McDonnell rented his $835,000 house in western Henrico to Dr. Cynthia Romero, who took over as state health commissioner in January. As Jim Nolan quotes the University of Virginia’s omni-pundit, Larry Sabato:

This is improper because it’s an obvious conflict of interest for the governor, and anybody can see that. … Suppose the governor wants to fire the commissioner. Does anybody think he wouldn’t consider losing the substantial monthly rent? Suppose the commissioner is unhappy about plumbing or repairs or rent increases. Does anybody think she might be hesitant to approach her boss? It’s just plain bad judgment.

I have to agree.

The Cooch exonerated, sort of. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli broke no laws when he neglected to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts from Williams, concluded an investigation headed by Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael N. Herring, a Democrat. Wrote Herring and John C. Bullard, his chief deputy:

Although one cannot help but question whether repeated omissions of gifts from Williams are coincidence or a pattern reflecting intent to conceal, the disclosure of several other gifts and benefits from Williams in his original statements suggests that the attorney general was not attempting to conceal the relationship.

Furthermore we find no evidence that in his statements the AG intentionally mischaracterized gifts and benefits from Star Scientific and Williams.

I guess that means the Post will just have to dig harder to find the dirt on Cuccinelli.

Missing in action. Meanwhile, one can’t help but wonder where’s the coverage of Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party candidate for governor. There’s a guy who’s got enough skeletons in his closet to raise an Army of the Dead. The Cuccinelli campaign is blasting out daily e-mail missives pointing McAuliffe’s inconsistencies, hypocrisies and possible ethical lapses… and they seem to be disappearing into the ether. With two reporters assigned to the McDonnell story, perhaps the Post is just short-staffed.

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7 responses to “Drip… Drip… Drip…”

  1. larryg Avatar

    I have some opinions (as usual) but I’m gonna wait and see who else says what….

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    “There’s a guy who’s got enough skeletons in his closet to raise an Army of the Dead. “.

    Fine. Name these so-called skeletons. I’ve been reading Bearing Drift for months now. You know what? They have nothing on McAuliffe. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Their best punch is that he may not make as many cars at GreenTech as he expected and claimed. Guess what, Jim “free markets” Bacon – that’s how entrepreneurship works.

    The RPV and its human sock puppets haven’t been able to land a single jab on McAullife. Meanwhile, the sitting governor is up to his eyeballs in scandal and the candidate for Attorney General can’t seem to take a step without stepping into another problem. Taking campaign contributions from companies engaged in legal wrangling with Virginia citizens and then using the office of AG to help the out-of-state companies? Wow!

    Your man should have followed the lead of countless others and resigned as Attorney General when he decided to seek the governorship. But he didn’t. Why? Because he is a conceited, arrogant, ego-maniac who thinks his legions of apologists will bail him out of all the problems that come with being a candidate and Attorney General.

    Unfortunately for Corruptinelli – his army of apologists is looking more and more like a cub scout troupe.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    If it hadn’t been for the Post, we may never have known about all the gifts, loans, car and airplane rides, etc., that in most states could very well land McDonnell in jail.
    True, the RTD is finally on the case, but since January 2010, the newspaper has served up truly ass kissing coverage of McD in story after story. The golden boy could do no wrong.
    The Post had to write the story about the health commissioner and it was NOT on the front page. So what if they had two reporters on it? What difference does that make? You’ve been in journalism long enough to know that sometimes little tiny stories get three bylines.
    As for the Cooch being exonerated, well, gee, he did ask for the probe himself, didn’t he? He still has close ties to Jonnie Williams that are highly questionable. Our top state legal officer has had to recuse himself from at least two cases because of Star Scientific. I don’t think anyone expected Cooch to be indicted — how could he be anyway given the state’s shamelesly lax laws? Not sure the FBI is probing him as they are McDonnell.
    As for McAuliffe, I’m with Don the Riper here. Do you have any evidence that McA is corrupt? Is there any question of shady dealings with Virginia businessmen? Huh? Sorry, Greentech doesn’t count as a Virginia corruption deal. Who said it was even corrupt? What are you going to bring up? Ralph Nader? Monica Lewinsky? The Lincoln Bedroom? Does McA have ties with Star Scientific that we don’t know about?
    Stop shooting pea shooters, Jim. Give us some real meat!

  4. larryg Avatar

    It takes some real mental gymnastics to equate obvious bald-faced corruption to what “might” be what others have done – zero evidence – just total speculation – while ignoring the fact that the RTD said this morning that Cucinelli SOLICITED money THEN failed to disclose it at the same time his office was involved in a lawsuit with the same company to protect the State and taxpayers interests.

    from RTD (not that nasty left wing liberal rap WAPO): ” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli solicited and initially neglected to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts from Jonnie Williams Sr. and troubled dietary supplement company Star Scientific, but broke no laws, a prosecutor’s report today says.”

    there is no way in HOLY HELL that the top legal authority in the state is “unaware” of the the law itself and the optics … anyone who believes that has beet juice on the butt of their trousers…

    Either he’s a out of control megalomaniac or wretchedly incompetent – either way – this guy is no legitimate candidate to lead the state. He’s not even a legitimate AG at this point.

    there is no defense here and ignoring it and pointing fingers at McAuliff because he “might” have done “something” is….. well… I don’t want to be ugly – but that’s pathetic.

  5. Richard Avatar

    Regarding Cuccinelli’s missives, the more he points out McCauliffe’s faults and the more his supporters attack the Washington Post, the worse Cuccinelli looks in comparison. He needs to shut up and hope everything comes out and calms down by election day, but everyone is just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  6. larryg Avatar

    I’m not sure exactly what if anything Cucinelli is saying…but I’m agog at what his GOP apologist defenders are saying…

    I had speculated earlier that left/right politics trumps ethics and even corruption and now we have a pretty good demonstration of it.

    Cucinelli didn’t do anything wrong that McAuliff “might” have also done.
    got that?

    My support/trust in Kaine or Warner or McAuliff evaporates instantly if they are found to be doing what Cucinelli and McDonald have been doing. Messing around with campaign money is one thing… taking money directly from others while you are a public servant is totally unacceptable. It’s a non-starter. The fact that some folks think it’s “ok” just boggles my mind.

    Obviously- the GOP and it’s supporters have a more “boys will be boys” attitude.

    I’ve always had that niggling worry about the GOP when it comes to a willingness to get in bed with business interests but I always felt there was
    a bright line about money or gifts changing hands.

    I guess I was naive, eh?

  7. wesghent Avatar

    As one who lives “far from the Capital crowd’s ignoble strife,” (i.e., down here in Norfolk, eastern Tidewater), I must suggest that we are indebted to the Wash Post for its thorough coverage of stories such as the McDonnell-Walker affair, the UVa BOV travesty, and the Post’s other coverage of breaking news that you dwellers in the I-95 Corridor take for granted.

    Many of us–at least we “blue” folk– love our Virginian-Pilot, and we have accepted its management’s decision to scale back on news and editorial personnel, in order to stay solvent. We must, however, look online for depth and background, and the Wash Post’s thorough coverage becomes a primary source.
    As for your statement, “That’s the way the game is played — by everybody!” is concerned, I would suggest that your assessment is neither useful nor inspiring in today’s climate in Virginia politics. The McDonnells have gone ‘way beyond the bounds of access-seeking, over any previous Governor’s administration, and they have brought all aspects of “the game of politics” to a new low. Hard to cast Bob McDonnell as a favorite son of Tidewater or as a distinguished alumnus of Regent U. law school.
    It was refreshing to read, in the WashPost’s coverage, what Health Secretary Dr. Bill Hazel told the Post, the governor and the governor’s friend: “‘You go to them for that” — the “that and them” being to get product testing at U-Va. or MCV. We ordinary citizens need to know that there are people of integrity who are still functioning in the McDonnell administration. Dr. Bill Hazel is one such person, based on the Post’s report and Hazel’s re’sume’, if one cares to look it up. http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/Staff/bio.cfm

    As for your question, “Is the Post insinuating that there is something shady, unethical or even unusual about governors referring friends and campaign contributors (of which Williams was both) to officials within their administration?,” I’d have to answer, “Probably YES.” The facts and experience indicate that the McDonnells don’t play by the rules and that their expectations of their support staff ARE unusual.

    It seems pretty clear that even the self-seeking McDonnells didn’t try to strong-arm Dr. Bill Hazel. As Bacon’s Rebellion wrote, “Basically, Hazel blew Williams off.” Unfortunately, the rebuff may be a case of “too little, too late.”

    It would be nice if Health Secretary Dr. Bill Hazel could heal what ails the McDonnell administration, but that’s a large assignment, even for Virginia’s designated lead physician.

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