A Southwest Virginia legislator Monday called for an state Inspector General investigation into Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office after a federal judge rebuked a lawyer on his staff for assisting two energy companies as they defend against lawsuits from citizens over natural gas royalties.
State Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Russell County, publicly made that request after the Associated Press last week reported on the shock U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent conveyed in a recent court document upon learning one of Cuccineli's staff attorneys had offered advice to the corporate litigants.
E-mails provided to the court show that assistant attorney general Sharon Pigeon gave advice to attorneys for the companies: EQT Production Co. and CNX Gas Co., both from the Pittsburgh area.
As part of her duties, Pigeon represents the Virginia Gas and Oil Board, which has an interest in the case but isn't a party to the long-running dispute between the energy companies and private landowners over compensation for gas harvested from their properties.
"With this much at stake, it was positively outrageous to learn last week that Ken Cuccinelli’s office has been acting not as a neutral observer in this case, but as an active adviser to the companies who are seeking to avoid paying Virginians millions in royalties," Puckett said on on a conference call organized by Virginia Democrats.o;s report on whether any laws or ethics rules have been broken in this disturbing matter," he added.
Serious stuff, and it's unlikely there's any good answer (the "I forgot" excuse probably won't work here, as it didn't work when Cuccinelli tried it in the Star Scientific scandal case). So now, Del. Terry Kilgore - the brother of Ken Cuccinelli's attorney, Jerry Kilgore - is desperately trying to defend Cuccinelli politically at least, flailing around for something to get him off the hook, or at least distract the press for a while. Thus, according to Terry Kilgore, "Any suggestion that Attorney General Cuccinelli or his office was involved in any impropriety should be dismissed for the Democrat talking points they so clearly are." Uh huh. So it's all a made up, partisan witch hunt. Why is everyone always picking on poor, poor Ken Cuccinelli, anyway? Boo-hoo-hoo. In reality, of course, Cuccinelli has been sloshing around in contributions and gifts from the very companies his office has been improperly advising and otherwise "assisting." As has his pal Terry Kilgore. A few examples of the oil and gas companies' favors to Kilgore include:
So...$700 in gifts and over $27,000 in campaign cash to Terry Kilgore. And lots LOTS more to Ken Cuccinelli ($111k from Consol alone). And then, in a TOTAL coincidence I'm sure, Cuccinelli's office "gave advice to attorneys for the companies" which just happen to be "seeking to avoid paying Virginians millions in royalties." Sure, happens all the time, right? Nothing to see here, move right along. At least that's what Ken Cuccinelli and Company would like us to believe. But last I checked, Virginians were not as gullible as the cynical, smarmy Cuccinelli (and his cynical, smarmy defenders like the Kilgore brothers) likes to think we are.
Last night on the live John Fredericks Show, Fredericks had panelists to include Chap Peterson, Scott Surovell, Ben Tribbett and a journalist from a Washington paper. At some point during the show when the SBE's website was bouncing in and out, the discussion turned briefly to "rural" votes being submitted quickly because there werent' many of them. A comment was made regarding Bedford County and its returns. It went something like, "Well, it's not hard to count one vote." Everyone just yucked it up after the statement was made.
I've pointed out on BV several times that the DPVA, and in general, Democratic candidates ignore rural Virginia at their own peril. Last night gives me an excellent example to show the importance of rural Virginia voters in low turnout elections. Chopra's support in Northern Virginia was essentially a draw with Northam, and then Northam built up huge margins in the Tidewater area and lost the race. However, the Herring/Fairfax race was different and Herring can count his support in rural Virginia, at least in part, for his victory over Justin Fairfax by 4,500 votes.
For anyone who tries to claim that Republicans aren't waging a relentless war on women's rights, not to mention on science and the Enlightment, see the following two exhibits of recent, Republican insanity. Just like the GOP insanity we see here in Virginia, with "transvaginal ultrasounds," attempts to make miscarriages illegal, other attempts to make contraception illegal/shut down Planned Parenthood, etc. It will never end, until we make sure that not a single one of these extremists is in office. Here in Virginia, that first and foremost means we need to defeat Ken Cuccinelli (bought into the lunatic conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood is racist and is aiming to abort black children for eugenics purposes, etc.), EW Jackson (who has compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK), and Mark Obenshain (who wants to criminalize miscarriages). Anyway, on to the exhibits:
Exhibit B: In Wisconsin, "Republican state senators in Wisconsin on Wednesday silenced Democratic lawmakers while passing a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before being able to receive an abortion."(see video of Republican lunacy and strong-arm tactics on the "flip")
The last Democratic sweep of the three statewide offices occurred in 1989, more than a generation ago. But a look at modern Virginia political history rates the 2013 Democratic ticket as having the best chance ever in this period to "run the table" on the GOP. The Republican candidate for Lt. Governor is the weakest statewide candidate of the modern era, with a political persona that makes him unqualified by any fair measure for a job that basically doesn't require any major qualifications!
200-proof politics rates Senator Ralph Northam a 15-point morning line favorite over E.W. Jackson. The only bigger underdog starting out in the modern era was Democrat Doug Wilder in 1985, also running for LG. Thus Jackson, at least on an historical basis, has a slim but mathematical chance of winning what would surely be a monumental upset.
But the GOP LG candidate has shown none of the political savvy or campaign strategy necessary to pull off such an electoral feat. Since being nominated, he has wasted basically a month's time. The only news of note has been the number of Republicans who have refused to support him, either directly or in silence except for news of Jackson's financial troubles in the past. As 200-proof politics has suggested in the past, Jackson's financial resume is going to come under increasing scrutiny during the summer.
Does E.W. Jackson have a path to win? Sure. But the better question right now for him is this: Does he have a path to become a credible candidate? That's job #1. But again, he isn't taking it. This tells 200-proof he and his staff are simply out of their league.
Right now, candidate Jackson would do well to get 43% of the vote, roughly the percentage received by GOP Senate candidate Oliver North in 1994, a good GOP year nationally. Senator Northam has a shot at 60%: and even more if the Jackson campaign implodes, a real-time risk for the VA GOP this year. E.W. Jackson is likely to find that his "15 minutes of fame" will prove to be politically and financially very, very costly unless he turns his campaign around by Labor Day. If not, then he is going to endure one of the worst two months of any candidate in modern Virginia history.
If you back out the results from Loudoun County, the primary contest between Senator Mark Herring and former prosecutor Justin Fairfax was essentially a dead heat. In the view of 200-proof politics, strong support from the progressive blogs made the difference for Herring. As a purely technical matter, Fairfax had the better general election "message." Thus, it wasn't quite as attractive to the progressive blogs as Herring's candidacy, whose pitch seemed designed to get their support.
The blogs did for Herring what his campaign did not: provide a certain energy, a certain edge, a certain image of the guy which is not his normal MO. Of the two candidates, Herring comes across as the more laid back. This can be a problem in a low-vote situation against a young, aggressive challenger.
Fairfax did an amazing job of coming from nowhere to near victory in a very short span of political time. Moreover he did it in the face of a solid Herring campaign with a very good direct mail effort. But the Fairfax support demonstrates a certain hunger on the part of Democratic primary voters for a more youthful, forceful style, more in the "prosecutorial" mode which fit Fairfax.
Bottom line here at 200-proof politics: Had the blogs gone for Fairfax, he wins. As 200-proof wrote at the time, Herring's smartest technical play was getting out front on the so-called "gay rights" issues. He also ran more against Cuccinelli than anyone else in the primaries this year. Again, a smart technical play.
In my view, given their resources, I don't think the blogs made much difference in the LG's race when all is said and done. Both candidates had the money to make their case. This was not true in the AG's race in my view. Herring overcame the Post endorsement. But had he lost the blogs, I think he would have lost.
In the general election, the blogs' influence will likely be far, far less, as they will tend to "preach" to the choir on each side of the aisle. But in a low-vote primary dominated by high-information political voters, the blogs must be seen as important players.
It's 7 pm, and polls in Virginia are now closed. Which races are you watching? Obviously, I'm curious to know who won the Democratic primaries for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. I'm also interested in the Democratic and Republican House of Delegates primaries. I'll be listening to the John Fredericks Show, as well as checking results at VPAP and the State Board of Elections website. On the LG and AG races, it will be interesting to see if they can be called early, or whether they are too close to call for a while. Should be interesting...stay tuned!
UPDATE 9:43 pm: Looks like turnout in the Democratic primary was around 140,000, which is better than 2005 by about 25,000 votes. Still pitifully low, but at least it wasn't a historic low as many of us thought it might be this afternoon.
UPDATE 9:23 pm: @ryanobles tweets, "AP Calls it: BULLETIN (AP) - Mark Herring, Dem, nominated Attorney General, Virginia."
UPDATE 9:11 pm: Huge upset by Tea Partier Mark J Berg over Del. Beverly Sherwood in the 29th HoD district. And Del. Joe May loses to Tea Partier Dave LaRock in the 33rd HoD district. These upsets are all about the transportation bill vote. Wow. On the other hand, Republican Scott Taylor wins the 85th HoD primary, despite his support for the transportation bill, over Gary Byler and Jeremy Waters.
UPDATE 9:08 pm: VPAP is finally back up. With 95.8% of precincts reporting, it's Mark Herring 51.78% (69,058 votes)-Justin Fairfax 48.22% (64,315 votes). In the House of Delegates, congratulations to Del. Rosalyn Dance (53%-47%), Jennifer Boysko (76%-24%), and Del. Algie Howell (68%-32%).
UPDATE 9:01 pm: @aneeshchopra tweets, "Congratulations to Senator @RalphNortham on his victory tonight. I'm looking forward to working together to win in November. #Unity"
UPDATE 8:59 pm: This is nuts! @DenaPotterAP tweets, "Senior Va. GOP Del. Joe May, roads package backer, loses primary to conservative challenger."
UPDATE 8:58 pm: @vpapupdates tweets, "House District 63 - 29 of 30 precincts - Dance 52.88% Thompson 47.11%." Looks like that one's over.
UPDATE 8:57 pm: NLS just called the AG race for Mark Herring.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12th, Democrat Michael Abraham officially launches his campaign to gain his party's nod to unseat one-term conservative Republican Delegate Nick Rush in House District 7. Abraham is a Christiansburg native and current Blacksburg resident. A former owner of his family printing business, he's now a local author and publisher. He's written five books, including Harmonic Highways; Spine of the Virginias; Union, WV; Providence, VA; and War,West Virginia.
Mike has been active in both professional and community organizations, including Rotary International. From his page at amazon, here's a brief bio:
Michael Abraham (1954- ) grew up in a Jewish family in Christiansburg, Virginia. He earned an engineering degree at Virginia Tech and has had a varied career in engineering, sales, marketing, management, and industrial real estate development and management. In semi-retirement in 2009, he began his writing career with the non-fiction travelogue, The Spine of the Virginias. In 2012, his third book, Harmonic Highways, was nominated for the 15th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Award.
In 2011 and 2012, he was a featured speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book, the state's most prestigious annual book event. He writes regularly for a number of publications, including the Valley Business Front, Blue Ridge Country, Roanoke Business magazine, Greenbrier Quarterly magazine and the (Montgomery County). News Messenger.
Today is the Virginia Democratic primary election to choose our nominees for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and several House of Delegates candidates (63rd, 86th, and 90th districts for the Democrats). Polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm. To find your polling place, click here. [UPDATE: Note that there are a few interesting Republican primaries as well for House of Delegates, mostly fueled by right-wing anger about the incumbents' votes for the transportation bill's tax increases...)
What are you seeing and hearing out there? What's turnout like in your neck of the woods? Who did you vote for and why? I'm going to vote this afternoon - for Aneesh Chopra and Mark Herring. Tonight, I plan to live blog the results starting at 7 pm or so. I'm also planning to listen to the John Fredericks Show - featuring Del. Scott Surovell, Ben Tribbett, and reporter Dave Sherfinski - starting at 6 pm. Should be a fun evening!
UPDATE 1:25 pm: From numbers I've seen in Arlington, I'd say that turnout will be up a bit from 2005. Of course, that's not saying much, but still...better than flat or down! Also, I'm hearing that turnout in Leesburg is significantly up from 2005, and that Loudoun turnout is strong (see here for instance).
UPDATE 1:50 pm: I just heard from a Democratic campaign manager that he thinks turnout will better than 2005, not as good as 2006. Maybe somewhere around 130,000?
UPDATE 3:07 pm: According to the Loudoun Times, "Loudoun County General Registrar Judy Brown, just before 3 p.m., said voter turnout for today's primary elections has generally been low thus far - remaining in the single digits in many precincts." Not sure how that meshes with some of the info I heard earlier this afternoon from Loudoun. At this point, I might just wait for the results and stop even trying to guess...
UPDATE 4:19 pm: NLS predicts record low turnout in the Democratic primary today. That's not what I'm hearing from my sources, but I guess we'll see soon enough. Of course, they could both be right, in that turnout as a percentage of registered voters almost certainly will be the lowest ever, but absolute turnout might not be...
UPDATE 6:03 pm: @frankoanderson tweets, "Latest from Fairfax County: sampling of precincts that reported btwn 3:30-4:30pm shows turnout of 2-3%." Turnout in Fairfax County was 3.1% in 2005.
UPDATE 6:30 pm: @patrickmwilson tweets, "The Portsmouth registrar says 4,667 people had voted as of 3 p.m." In 2005, 4,279 voted in Portsmouth.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Kaine today delivered remarks in Spanish on the Senate floor to voice his support for the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act and strongly urge his colleagues to come together to pass the commonsense proposal.
"Let's show this country and the world that this is not a Republican bill and it is not a Democratic bill but it is a strong bipartisan bill. It is time that we pass comprehensive immigration reform," said Kaine. "While not perfect - I can confidently stand here today and say this bill will do more for border security, more to improve our current backlog, more to strengthen our employment verification system, and more to put measures in place to deal with the future flow of immigrants - compared to any other immigration bill in history."
During his remarks, Kaine said it was not only necessary to debate this bill in English, but also in other languages such as Spanish that are spoken across the country.
On the eve of tomorrow's primary election, it is fitting to remind ourselves how important that Democrats defeat Republicans in today's America, and therefore how important it is to have good, strong Democratic candidates engaged in the contest.
Yesterday I had occasion to articulate how important is the difference between Democrats and Republicans today. It was in exchange with a reader on the generally lefty website, www.OpEdNews.com .
This reader took the position, which I've been encountering for years on that website, that there's no real battle between Democrats and Republicans, that the two parties are both merely arms of the money power, that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the parties, and so people in the know shouldn't worry about the outcome in the contests between the two.
Here's why that lefty dismissal is a fundamental misunderstanding of what's happening in our politics.
1) It is in the political arena that it gets decided whose hand will be on the helm of America, making the decisions about what kind of society we will become.
2) We have two major parties, and our destiny will be in the hands of one of those parties. There are no other players in contention. If the American people are going to have ANY champion fighting for them, it will be one or the other of the two parties.
Tomorrow is an important day for Virginia. Between the hours of 6:00am and 7:00pm polls will be open across the Commonwealth and thousands of voters will choose our Democratic nominee for Attorney General. Like you, I have watched this race closely and weighed the candidates carefully.
We need someone who will clean up the mess that Ken Cuccinelli has made in Richmond, and that is why I am voting for Senator Mark Herring.
For years, Mark has been in the trenches, working to defend the rights of Virginians. When Cuccinelli attempted to derail the historic transportation bill this year, Mark took a stand. When Cuccinelli tried to limit health care access for Virginian women, Mark took a stand. When Cuccinelli used taxpayer dollars to try to silence climate science research, Mark took a stand.
We've watched with horror as Ken Cuccinelli thrust our state into the spotlight and turned us into a national laughingstock. We've witnessed an Attorney General who has been more concerned about his own right-wing agenda than what is best for Virginia. Now we've got a chance to fight back and return our focus to jobs, education, and expanding opportunity for everyone.
Please don't miss this opportunity to send a message that we've had enough radical right-wing extremism. Join me in voting for Mark Herring tomorrow.
You can CLICK HERE to find out where to vote, or call 703-729-3300 to help Mark finish strong.
(Thanks very much to former Rep. Tom Perriello, this is great! - promoted by lowkell)
Fifty years ago today, a group of courageous young Virginians in Danville braved beatings and prison to demand dignity and equal rights in what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called "one of the most viciously segregated cities in America." This day in the last capitol of the Confederacy has been known since as Bloody Monday.
Many heroes from that struggle have never stopped marching for justice. Today we celebrate Rev. Thurman Echols, Bishop Larry Campbell (the elder), along with countless heroes - mostly women - whose names appeared in police blotters and hospital records, but never newspapers or history books. At the time, blacks were one-third of the regional population but only 6% of registered voters and held even fewer positions in the ranks of the police and City Hall.
In the early days of my first campaign, many of these same leaders called a march after a five-year-old girl was shot by a stray bullet while lying in her bed. I accepted their invitation to join and, after walking a few miles together, left the wiser for the oral history shared with me by those who had lived the struggle, and bent the arc of history ever so slightly towards justice. Mayor Saunders - who later became the first African-American mayor of the city - told me about his brother being thrown in jail, and his mother going to the Mayor's lawn to demand his release. Rev. Avon Keene talked of being a kid watching that day. At a second march soon thereafter, the white police chief joined with African-American city council members in a way unthinkable to anyone in Danville 50 years ago except those who dared to dream.
I encourage readers to take a few minutes on this anniversary to read the knowledge that pioneers like Bishop Campbell and Rev Echols continue to share. In a sign of progress, national and local newspapers are giving this anniversary more coverage than they gave to the original protesters. Heroes still march among us and still have something to teach us, if we all take a bit of time to listen.
I think the vast majority of us would agree that Faux "News" is nothing more than a right-wing, pro-Republican echo chamber. I think we'd also agree that "Fox and Friends" is about as bad as it gets on Fox - and that's saying something for that bad joke of a network!
The New York Times wrote that Fox & Friends "has become a powerful platform for some of the most strident attacks on President Obama." The program has provided a platform for conspiracy theories about Obama's religion and, in May 2012, aired a 4-minute video attacking Obama's record as President. The video was widely criticized as a political attack ad masquerading as journalism, TIME television critic James Poniewozik wrote: "It's hard to imagine a more over-the-top parody of Fox raw-meat-hurling, fear-stoking, base-pleasing agitprop."
In sum, this is the loony bin of all loony bins. An echo chamber of insanity on steroids. However you want to put it. And Ken Cuccinelli fits in really, really well there. Conspiracy theories run amok? Yep, we got 'em. Multiple false assertions a minute? Check. Nastiness and smarminess? Check. Bottom line: when Ken Cuccinelli loses this November, this would be the perfect job for him: join "Fox and Friends," he'll perfectly in the Fox insane asylum!
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