Read All About It: The Virginia Way

Former Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

In his defense, you must realize that Bill Bolling is not a lawyer, so he couldn’t do what some lawyer-legislators do at the end of their careers and become a judge.  With the Virginia Retirement System’s pensions based on the highest salary period, you must top out as governor or attorney general or a cabinet member or judge, something with a real salary if you want that monthly thank-you-for-life from the taxpayers to have any zeroes on it.

It was just a few hours ago I was in a conversation saying that arrogance was the sin that sank the Democrat legislative majorities in Virginia and would soon prove fatal for the Republicans.  I can think of no more potent example of arrogance and entitlement-thinking than the Richmond Times-Dispatch account of how former legislator and lieutenant governor Bolling found his way to a six-figure salary at James Madison University.

As the lede paragraph makes clear, that VRS pension amount was front and center in the discussions.

Perhaps he is a great teacher, but no adjunct is getting paid $140,000 plus housing.  Bolling is the school’s lobbyist, pure and simple, a political adviser to the president and the leadership.  He’s there to curry favor with the money committees in Richmond on behalf of the school.  Combined the state schools spend outrageous sums on government-to-government lobbying efforts, but perhaps this example will focus a spotlight.  That salary may not be out of line at all with what other schools are paying their lobbying staff.

The best part of the story, in my mind, is the phone call from former U.S. Attorney Richard Cullen, now head of the shadow government run out of McGuireWoods down on Richmond’s Main Street.  I’m glad reporter Patrick Wilson quoted him at length.  Yep, no story here, no need to raise any ethical questions about how this all came about.

Long ago I often smiled and said that the meanest thing I ever did to a politician was quote him or her accurately.   Read the story.  Speaking as a public relations guy, myself, what were they thinking? Who do they think they are kidding?

Maybe it is legal for a well-connected former legislator, while sitting on a university board, to negotiate for himself a fat sinecure to start just after his service.  I’m sure all the people who have spent long careers in education earning far less, and all the parents and students struggling to finance their payments to JMU, see absolutely no problem.  Former Newport News legislator Phil Hamilton, still in federal prison for arranging a university job for himself through his budget machinations, will be the first to say this situation is totally different.

Then again, maybe not.