“Will Republicans Put a Health Insurance Industry Lobbyist on the Powerful Virginia State Corporation Commission?” screams the headline on the website which to me epitomizes the intellectual depth of that particular political party.
It is responding of course to news that Richmond attorney and lobbyist David Clarke is now considered the most likely choice by the House of Delegates for the open seat on the SCC. By House of Delegates I of course mean the Republicans in the House, since judicial selection remains a highly guarded prerogative of the majority. With the Special Session firing back up next week, somebody may finally be elected to replace the retired Commissioner James C. Dimitri.
“If Clarke ends up on the powerful SCC, he will be one of a few people overseeing the regulation of health insurance plans — and likely approve double digit increases — in Virginia,” is one of Blue Virginia’s points. How about this point: He will also be one of the few people who actually understand that industry and that market. You cannot know what somebody will do once he’s put on the bench – it’s a liberating experience, I hear. Judge Dimitri had Dominion Energy as a client, and then he was liberated.
I can’t stop the beloved public sport of lobbyist-bashing but I won’t pass up a chance to respond on behalf of my peers. Clarke is one of four persons mentioned in the media as under consideration, and truth be told he’s not my favorite candidate. But the fact that he is a lobbyist and a lawyer who has practiced in front of the SCC is what makes him extremely well qualified if he emerges as the consensus. Everybody around the Capitol has had a chance to see him in action for years.
Like most of us who ply this benighted trade, Clarke actually has a very diverse list of clients over the years and the health care industry is hardly dominant on the list. I’m a little surprised Blue Virginia didn’t focus on the gas industry. The one time he and I crossed swords professionally, I was actually representing real estate lawyers and he was working for lay persons doing real estate closings.
The communication and study skills required to handle a long list of unrelated clients transfer well to other jobs. Few know better than lobbyists (or lawyers) where our clients are right and where they might be wrong. There may be matters where he needs to recuse himself, but his personal financial entanglements (if any) may be more of a factor there than his old client list.
Despite the cheap partisan shot at Clarke, Blue Virginia is silent on the other known candidates: a long-serving member of the Attorney General’s staff who specializes in utility matters, a former deputy AG who is now a university counsel, and a former member of the State Senate who is not an attorney (but that is not required by law.) I suspect the qualifications of the candidates are secondary and any choice will become fodder for criticism.
“Don’t tell my mother I’m a lobbyist,” goes the old joke. “She thinks I play piano in a whorehouse.” Well to the extent I did that, I listened and learned a few things along the way and it would be a very interesting experiment to try a session with none of us lobbyists around. I predict you would not actually like the outcome.There are currently no comments highlighted.