mcauliffePeter Galuszka

One can hardly blame Gov. Terry McAuliffe for ditching the General Assembly’s absurdly weak ethics panel along with deep-sixing the line items in the budget that restrict him from expanding Medicaid.

Obviously, the nice-guy, bipartisan approach he had advocated simply isn’t possible with the likes of Tommy Norment and Bill Howell in the legislature. So, it’s hard ball time.

After a year-long trauma of the tawdry gift accepting of former Gov. and Mrs. Robert F. McDonnell and their upcoming corruption trial, it is high time the state got serious about ethics reform. But true to form and the traditional senses of entitlement and privilege, the General Assembly has created a ridiculously weak entity called the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.

This wrist-slapper would collect and review financial filings of donations to legislators and help “educate” those poor dears about those mistakes they might surely make even though they obviously didn’t intend to.

As for real teeth, it has gums. It doesn’t cover “intangibles” like trips to the Masters, deep-sea fishing, African boar-hunting, feasts at high-end steak houses and so on. Dominion, Altria and anyone else can shower on such goodies. Jonnie R. Williams could still fly Bob and Maureen anywhere in his private jet. Subpoena power? Forget it!

Well, McAuliffe has defunded this effort and wants real ethics legislation by next assembly.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s cozy politicians are “shocked, shocked, mind you” that the feds are taking a harder look at them. Many can’t get over the fact that McDonnell was actually indicted. They can’t believe he really faces trial in six weeks. Five former Attorneys General harrumphed their way to federal court saying that this is certainly not corruption. A federal judge effectively showed them the door.

Now we have a new federal case. Veteran State Sen. Philip Puckett, a key Democrat, decided to take a powder just before the General Assembly vote on the $96 billion, two-year budget and the Medicaid expansion matter. His bizarre departure just before the vote tilted matters the way of conservative, anti-expansion Republicans.

It was said at the time that Puckett might be considered for a six-figure job at the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which would be a step up from the $18,000 he makes as a senator. In the mix, his daughter could get appointed as a state judge.

The outcry was so strong that Puckett withdrew from the tobacco commission job possibility. But there’s a federal probe in Abingdon and Puckett has hired Thomas J. Bondurant Jr., a former federal prosecutor. Likewise lawyering up is tobacco commission head Terry G. Kilgore, who will be represented by Thomas Cullen, another former federal prosecutor. This sounds just like GiftGate.

Now the tobacco commission has always been a fun place since it doles out hundreds of millions from the state’s settlement with Big Tobacco back in the 1990s. Many of the 46 states who got the money used it to prevent smoking but Virginia also created a gigantic slush fund supposedly to advance products in the Southside and Southwest tobacco belts that grow bright leaf and burley.

Their first act was to hand out checks worth thousands to anyone who held a tobacco quota in a now-defunct tobacco program. You could use this to invest in your community, buy new golf clubs or vacation in the Maldives. Your choice. (We Virginians like free choice, it’s the Jefferson thing).

A few problems set in. Turns out that former director of the commission, John W. Forbes II, was dipping in the well to the tune of $4 million and also set up a suspect “literacy fund” worth $5 million. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence after his trial in 2010.

Since then, there’s been more suspect stuff going on. Last fall, for instance, the commission gave a $240,000 grant to Virginia Intermont College, a tiny and troubled liberal arts school in Bristol. The college has received lots of money form the commission over the years.

Well, the grant was supposed to help Intermont turn the corner financially as it tried to merge with another institution. The latest is that the merger failed and Intermont is kaput and the city wants it to pay its bills. And where did that $240,000 go?

Not to worry, folks. We’re dealing with Virginia gentlemen here and we are all honorable. Or maybe not. As State Sen. Creigh Deeds says: “We ought to be troubled. We ought to all tremble. I’ve read some pretty nasty speculation. We ought to fear people talking like that. … When you’re elected to office, your public actions ought to be beyond reproach.”

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5 responses to “McAuliffe: Time for Some Real Ethics Reform”

  1. kaylamorris Avatar

    The nepotism here is out of control!

    Puckett resigned for his daughter’s judgeship/tobacco sinecure in a…

    Backroom deal with cigarette parasite Del. Terry (brother of Jerry, former VA Atty General and partner at McGuire Woods)…

    who then hires To defend himself, hires Thomas Cullen (son of Richard, another former VA AG and CEO of McGuire Woods)…(oh and his cousin Peter Farrell is a delegate and uncle is CEO of DOminion monopoly/giftopoly, look it up CEOs Farrell and CUllen are brothers in law with office buildings next to each ohter LOL and get their sons jobs)…

    and What about the new “leftist” Attorney General Herring fixing things?? This was in the paper 2 days ago, Herring hires a new counsel to make sure government is run ethically/openly…he picks Shawri King-Casey, who believe it or not was head of ethics at McGuireWoods for the past seven years! Definitely she’s got a lots to offer she did sucha terrific job LOL!!

    Yes all of these scumbags are getting rich together and pulling a fast one. Like you said Peter so many of those AGs wrote in a letter on McDonnell saying, “Nothing to see here, everything on the up and up!” Or like David Brat say this is crony socialism!

    Are any of these people actually qualified? It’s like the Old Testament! The only thing that matters in Richmond politics is your birthright, “hi, my name is John Smith XIV, son of John Smith XIII, son of…” Food stamp is bad enough but people need to eat…Is it legal to enrich your family off the government or is it welfare only if poor people do it!!?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Kayla! Please …

      The descendants of pocahontas are your political, intellectual and moral betters.

      Don’t you know that the so-called first families of Virginia were imbued by the creator with God-like wisdom?

      Of course they stick together. There are barely enough of them to rule over us peons as it is. What should they do? Use non first-family people for important jobs? Allow those of us not descended from pocohantas to make decisions for ourselves?

      Don’t you understand Richmond? A little bit of North Korea right here in America.

  2. larryg Avatar

    Wow! As they say – “you can’t tell the players without a program”!

  3. Breckinridge Avatar

    I hate trusting my memory for lyrics: “That what’s got shall get, them what’s not shall lose, so the Bible says, yet is still is news.” David Clayton Thomas, now that was a voice….

    Reading “The Bully Pulpit” and wondering what we have today to replace McClure’s and the other muckraking journals. That is where I see the problem — an absolute lack of any oversight from an aggressive and skeptical media. The McGuire Woods-Dominion-Capitol Hill axis is a story waiting to be told, a Pulitzer waiting to be won. Not gonna happen.

  4. Breckinridge Avatar

    Them that’s got, shall get
    Them that’s not, shall lose
    So the Bible said, and it still is news
    Mama may have, and papa may have
    God bless’ the child,
    That’s got his own
    That’s got his own

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