If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

The municipal government lobby has long had a powerful presence in the General Assembly in the form of government officials and paid lobbyists. But local government leaders still feel out-gunned by powerful special interests.

So, now, members of the Virginia Municipal League are voting in an online referendum whether or not to launch a Political Action Committee, reports Jeff Schapiro in the Times-Dispatch. In an email last week, VML lawyer Mark Flynn wrote, “Political-action committees are powerful in Virginia for developing relationships with members of the General Assembly and statewide officeholders.”

That’s an understatement. As Schapiro recounted comments by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, at a meeting of his city’s GOP:

“You have money and want to buy a car. The other guy wants to buy a car but doesn’t have any money. Who do you think I’m going to waste my time talking to? The one with the money. I can’t help the other guy, and he can’t help me. … That’s the way it works in politics.”

To even register on the politicians’ radar, a local government PAC would have to contribute a minimum of $20,000 a year, Flynn wrote.

And, thus, Richmond follows the same path as Washington, D.C., toward rule by a political class and moneyed special interests….

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