A clarification has been added to the end of this article.
Setup. Barbara Favola is the Democratic State Senator from Virginia’s 31st district. That district is centered in Arlington but includes areas of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties as well. Favola is a politician-for-life having served on the Arlington County Board from 1997 through 2012 and in the Virginia State Senate since then. She is seeking to extend her 22 consecutive years in politics to 26 in the upcoming General Assembly election. However, Sen Favola’s well laid plans hit a snag. She will face a challenger named Nicole Merlene in the June 11 Democratic primary. Ms. Merlene has astutely called Sen Favola’s ethics and independence into question based on Favola’s non-legislative position as the head of a lobbying organization representing clients in Richmond. An article in ggwash summarized a debate between Favola and Merlene:
“In her opening statement, Merlene referred to a December 2016 proposal to build a 325-foot tall tower on Virginia Department of Transportation land in Rosslyn. Favola, the sitting state senator for the district, was an advisor for the project.
Merlene said this type of behavior was pervasive, citing her opponent’s relationship with Marymount University and Virginia Hospital Center, which are both clients of a lobbying organization that Favola leads when she is not working in Richmond.“This is an issue where our representative was using public office for private benefit,” she said.”
Favola responded by employing what has become known as “the Saslaw – Norment defense” which holds that no amount of money from any source could ever be corrupting based on the genetic honesty of long time Virginia politicians. Continue reading