An immediate Cuccinelli political comeback was dispelled on Saturday during a dinner speech at The Homestead Resort. According to one source, Ken Cuccinelli stated "I don't mind not having an elected role in about a month or so. I've been in office 11 years... I look forward to a little bit of a break. ... but I'll be back with you. I'm not talking as a candidate, but just fighting for these principles because I believe in them."
Before anyone except staunch Cuccinelli supporters get too excited, the attorney general's words seem more like those of a man still licking his wounds from a recent election defeat rather than those of someone who's given himself enough time to make a resolute long term decision. And if there is one thing that Virginians should know by now, it's not to trust a good deal of what Ken Cuccinelli says.
Tis the season for more absurd remarks by Republican members of congress, and Rep. Morgan Griffith (9th District) didn't waste any time. While recently visiting Tazewell, Griffith told a crowd of supporters during lunch that if 95 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) employees were classified as 'non essential' during the federal government shutdown in October then "they should be able to cut 15 percent."
Indeed, the august Griffith claimed that he intends to introduce legislation during the next session of congress that would cut the EPA's staff by 15 percent even though he concedes that "I don't want to mislead anyone, I don't think it will pass in the Senate and maybe not the house but we are going to ask for their staff to be cut by 15 percent." In essence, then, Griffith's legislative gamble will once again waste legislative time, energy, and taxpayer dollars.
The results of the November 5th election for Virginia Attorney General were certified by the Virginia State Board of Elections on Monday. State Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) was announced the victor by 165 votes, making the 2013 election for attorney general the closest Virginia political contest in "modern Virginia history" (however "modern" is defined).
Meanwhile, state Sen. Herring announced the five co-chairmen of his inaugural committee, another unforeseen action (*sarcasm again*) that signals Herring's own expectation of becoming Virginia's next attorney general. According to a statement made on Tuesday by Sen. Herring, "It is within Senator Obenshain's right to pursue electoral victory to an ultimate conclusion beyond the original count, canvass and certification." Herring went on, "His tactics, however, will not impede our efforts to build the finest team to serve all Virginians in the Office of Attorney General or prepare for the 2014 legislative session."
In the first edition of tales from a sore loser, Virginia Attorney General and loser of November 5th's race for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, suggested that Sen. Mark Warner will be vulnerable during the 2014 election because of the perceived flaws of the healthcare reform legislation. In other words, Cuccinelli could be positioning himself for a senatorial run against Mark Warner in 2014.
According to Cuccinelli, "There is no such thing as an unendangered Democrat who promised, as Mark Warner did, on video, sitting in his Senate office, 'I would not vote for a health-care plan that doesn't let you keep health insurance you like.' " On the other hand, there is no such thing as an unendangered Republican who compares abortion to slavery.
Unfortunately, Cuccinelli may not have learned much from his gubernatorial loss to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. Fortunately for Virginia, Cuccinelli may not have learned much from his gubernatorial loss to Terry McAuliffe.
For three years we have heard that Virginia is enjoying budget surpluses. All the while, a series of gimmicks have been employed that will unravel during the years to come; some immediate, some long term. Terry McAuliffe would be well advised to determine baselines that provide context for funding obligations.
Ken Cuccinelli was right when he claimed that taxes would increase during a McAuliffe administration; what he failed to point out was that they also had consistently increased during the current administration and would under his own. The difference will be that Governor McDonnell was allowed to borrow against the future and underfund capital requirements, in effect levying the tax on his successors and generations to come. Cuccinelli would have done much more of the same. Such maneuvers by the coming McAuliffe administration will not be met with the deafening silence afforded the current administration.
Maintaining the Illusion of Surpluses
The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) "loan" amortization, the legislatively mandated 20% annual contribution deficiency, and total unfunded pension obligations
Education infrastructure maintenance, capitalization and re-capitalization underfunding
Transportation infrastructure maintenance, capitalization and re-capitalization underfunding
Positive growth of revenue streams; particularly from areas such as agricultural production where weather and markets are beyond the influence of state government but have had a good run
Terry McAuliffe should conduct an audit early on so that the inevitable future claims of fiscal malfeasance can be placed in context when the bills come due. This one must be much more honest than the audit by McDonnell's team which made claims like turning up over $100 million that had been "mismanaged" by the Department of Transportation during the Kaine administration (conversely, McAuliffe should make certain that operating funds and reserves have not been drawn down). No, this audit should nail down underfunded and unfunded obligations that are currently, to a great extent, off the books. Some will come due during the next four years; some will continue to grow otherwise unacknowledged until they explode with consequences similar to the Detroit pension crisis.
All eyes on Virginia. Governor Howard Dean and Purple to Blue 86th District House of Delegates candidate Jennifer Boysko will be featured on a special call Monday to talk about the shutdown crisis and how we can make it a game changer up and down the ballot, starting in Virginia.
"Republicans in Virginia are cut from the same cloth as the folks who just held our country hostage, and they're governing the same way, too. They've slashed education funding, essentially outlawed abortion, passed strict voter ID legislation and blocked efforts to control deadly weapons."
You will be able to join the call using a computer with working internet or, if a computer isn't available, by calling in with your phone. Register online to receive instructions for participating tomorrow at 8:30PM. Note that the registration page indicates "EST." I have written DFA asking for clarification. (Update: The E-mail notification uses "ET" rather than "EST," so local time)
Here's yet another example of how low you can go if you capitulate to the Tea Party and their benefactors in Virginia this November. North Carolina just reversed a despicable position that had meant North Carolina's WIC recipients wouldn't have help during the partial government shutdown. But it shouldn't gone gone "there" in the first place. It's a disgrace.
In the face of a partial government shutdown, those receiving food under the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) were left hung out to dry, or rather starve. Every other state in the nation gave their WIC recipients vouchers to buy food, but not North Carolina. And in true Tea Party form, Aldona Wos, the righteous radical wrong-wing horror that is the head of our state DHHS (who has crippled our state Medicaid program both by policy and incompetence) blamed guess whom? Why the President of course.
In quick succession, four polls have shown the race for governor is slipping away from Ken Cuccinelli. Yesterday Quenton Kidd, Director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University (CNU) discussed recent poll results with Cathy Lewis on Norfolk's WHRV. Not all the news was great.
After about a month or so with a McAuliffe lead of around five percent and margins of error around three and four percent, there had been an argument that the gubernatorial race could be closer than the numbers indicate. Two days ago, Politico published a poll showing McAuliffe holding a 10 point lead and soon afterwards CNU released the results of a poll with him up by nine percent. Roanoke College had McAuliffe up by seven and today the Quinnipiac University poll has him with a lead of eight.
Lewis asked Kidd about the libertarian candidate. Kidd responded that Sarvis continues to perform well with about eight per cent of the vote (according to CNU). Sarvis's support, by Kidd's assessment, is coming out of what would naturally be Cuccinelli's voters; he's a protest vote for Republicans and independents who would normally go with the Republican. So the real question is: What do they do on election day? Do they stay home, do they go back to their natural base and vote Republican, or do they stick with Sarvis? Kidd believes that is the real unknown right now.
Kidd told Lewis CNU is currently conducting a poll asking about the shutdown and who is to blame; he expected the Quinnipiac poll to address the shutdown (it did). This he said, would begin to give a clearer picture about whether the race opening up for McAuliffe is directly or indirectly attributable to the "larger politics" around the shutdown and Ken Cuccinelli's connection to those "larger politics."
In a perfect world, political candidates running for office in Virginia named Robert Sarvis wouldn't be far-right libertarian ideologues hiding behind the farce of moderation. As Virginia's very own governor has demonstrated, however, we are far from living in a perfect world.
We are living in a world where the image is rarely the real picture of truth. And so it with Robert Sarvis, the libertarian candidate in Virginia's contest for governor who has slowly captured more attention from the mainstream media of Virginia with his shadowy political positions, his relative youth, and his heavily underdog status.
What is interesting about some of this 'coverage', however, is the lack of political positions that Robert Sarvis is asked to discuss. Instead, the main story is about a plain-ol' Virginian trying to take on two political goliaths. As has been pointed out by Lowell Feld, however, if Virginians knew about some of Mr. Sarvis' political positions (or lack thereof), they probably wouldn't be as enthused about his entry into the governor's race (at least 8 percent).
Mr. Sarvis can prove me right or wrong by letting Virginians know where he stands on issues pertaining to the environment, corporate spending in politics, the social safety net, and so on. In the case of environmental positions, his website doesn't even list the environment on his "Issues" page! Again, it's for the best because we know what the 'free hand' of the marketplace will reap upon this beautiful planet of ours.
Now, however, Bob McDonnell has no room to defend himself on the grounds of ignorance regarding the gifts his family received from Star Scientifics' CEO. The Washington Post gives one example: "McDonnell (R) was present at a charity auction in 2011 when the chief executive of Star Scientific, which makes a dietary supplement, successfully bid on a fashion tour of New York for the governor's wife in front of a crowd of onlookers, witnesses said."
With McDonnell's most clever defense now in the gutter, it's difficult to imagine how the governor can reason his way into staying on as Virginia's chief executive. Not only would McDonnell's resignation spare the people of Virginia any further embarrassment, it may also spare Bob McDonnell from some of the public scrutiny that will surely befall him if he remains Virginia's governor.
VRS Board Chairman Diana F. Cantor has set a low bar for success. In a year when throwing darts at the public securities board yielded 16.34%, she hails an additional 1.26% as impressive. In any event, her team already told us that investment decisions were prompted by a computer program.
Oh, heck, that little bit of insight was in response to questions arising from a VRS investment in Star Scientific that yielded a loss of $87,581 on an investment of $289,000. Worse, this was after a series of losses by Maureen McDonnell in the same stock. But as we have all been told, Maureen only shares her investment strategies with her financial benefactor, Jonnie Williams.
"Schultze said it is not clear why the internal program, devised by VRS investment staff to use algorithms to analyze stock data, recommended purchase of stock in a company that hadn't turned a profit in 10 years." - Richmond Times Dispatch
And what we don't know is the opportunity cost of the hundreds of millions of dollars Governor McDonnell siphoned from the VRS so that he could claim he balanced the state budget. Allowing that those funds would have been spread across the risk spectrum rather than invested only in public securities, those millions would still have been yielding that net 11.8% had they not been used as a long term obligation of the state, adding to the already unfunded obligations of the system.
Chairman Cantor also fails to mention that this follows a year when the system's investments yielded a whopping 1.4%; not a performance that enhances long-term solvency. Certainly, in her view, last year was the result of the market rather than mediocre performance by her staff. One year the Obama market, the next pure investment genius.
"Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law." (emphasis added) IR-2013-72
This ruling affects not only returns filed for tax year 2013, but also affects all prior years during which individuals were legally married. It appears that individuals affected may choose whether or not to amend prior year returns based upon their circumstances and whether or not it is to their benefit.
"Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances, such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open, that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier."
Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) came to call in Representative Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA 6th) district yesterday. He seeks a dialogue about immigration reform with Goodlatte, who controls which immigration bills are considered in the House. Goodlatte declined the invitation to appear at the event in Harrisonburg due to a scheduling conflict.
The Chicago Congressman made two appearances in Virginia on Monday as part of an effort to break the immigration reform deadlock. The appearance in Harrisonburg was a Virginia Organizing event and was attended by a crowd of some 400.
Gutierrez said he came to Harrisonburg because he had been invited. This event, he said is one of as many as a thousand such that will occur across the country demonstrating support for comprehensive immigration reform "even in Republican parts of Virginia."
"...in every survey, whether the surveys are conducted by a conservative leaning institution or a liberal leaning institution, all find, in general, people are for comprehensive immigration reform." - Representative Gutierrez
It is actually quite simple. Maureen could leave Bob for Jonnie. Ken could become ordained in a ministry that can deny the Pope's authority and wisdom, become confessor to Maureen and Jonnie, then preside over their nuptials. Bob could wash his hands of the entire affair. Done, done, and done.
It has been there all along. As the "facts" ooze forth it becomes more and more apparent, if you accept their versions, that Maureen and Jonnie are close confidants who have mingled their treasure with the pleasure of their company; already as close to marriage as it gets. If you are to believe their stories it seems they share more than Bob and Maureen have with each other of late. The kids are grown and out of the house, after all. Ken Cuccinelli benefitted from their association and must know more than he reveals. Bob just seems challenged to recognize any form of impropriety and, keeping those blinders properly fitted, can rationalize just about anything life throws at him.
Think of the benefits they accrue. Neither Ken nor Maureen nor Jonnie can be forced to testify against the other. Ken can jettison any Roman Catholic values he finds inconvenient and, to the benefit of running mate E. J. Jackson, dismiss Pope Francis's remark that "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" As for Bob, well beyond the fact he has established he knows nothing about his wife's financial affairs, we have come to learn that all that time at Notre Dame and Regent University did little to orient his moral compass; it remains, it seems, pointing in one self-serving direction.
Having already proven they are unperturbed standing in this swill, trading places shouldn't bother them in the least.
It is a harbinger of Virginia government under the intransigent leadership of a self-styled guardian of principle. Cuccinelli's office issued without public review an absurd policy guaranteeing notification of anyone mentioned in an Adult Protective Services abuse case. Those at the pointy end of the spear were forced to resist.
Last year I wrote about a regulatory change proposed by Cuccinelli's office that, under his concept of due process, required just about anyone mentioned in an elder abuse case be notified. There was broad and overwhelming objection to this policy change expressed during the Regulatory Town Hall Process comment period. A public hearing was set for April 17, 2013 (by coincidence, the day of Shad Planking). Instead the hearing was cancelled and, despite the fierce objections of social services professionals, the policy was placed in force. One size fits all in Ken's world. Except, no responsible professionals are willingly going to follow a narrow-minded dictate that places their clients' welfare in jeopardy.
Adult Protective Services (APS) professionals found a hole in the policy and, statewide, drove their cases through it. Notification was required when there was a finding. Simple enough. In cases of abuse where the victim was unwilling or unable to charge the perpetrator, the social service professional simply classified the allegations as unfounded. Done; except that for about three months while this policy was in full force, adult abuse findings were significantly underreported. In the face of strong behind the scenes opposition to the policy by the Department of Social Services, it has been amended, then effectively rescinded.
State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26th), Republican candidate for Attorney General and self-styled champion of the elderly has privately indicated interest in the issue but would find himself at odds with the head of the statewide ticket if he publicly addressed it. So with leadership in lock-step, it is certain that the potential Republican administration under Cuccinelli would bully its way through "principled" blunder after blunder, forcing state employees to choose between what is right and what will preserve their jobs.
The APS professionals chose what was right and have prevailed for now. But no doubt it will not be so certain a result under a Governor Cuccinelli.
While Virginia Uranium Inc.'s (VUI) Project Manager, Patrick Wales, has talked about VUI's dedication to uranium mining safety, its parent company, Virginia Energy Resources Inc. can't even differentiate between "indicated resources" and "mineral reserves" in technical disclosures released on its website. This is especially odd given the significance of its 'mistakes'.
One source found the following:
"The Company [VUI] filed a technical report dated September 6, 2012 titled "NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment Update, Coles Hill Uranium Property, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, United States of America" by Lyntek Inc. and BRS Engineering "in support of a listing application dated August 31, 2012. The technical report did not comply with the requirements of NI 43-101 and Form 43-101F1 because it incorrectly included wording that "the preliminary economic assessment...indicates that the portion of the [indicated] mineral resource...is economic under current conditions" (Indicated resources are simply economic mineral occurrences that have been sampled from locations such as outcrops, trenches, pits and drillholes to a point where an estimate has been made, at a reasonable level of confidence, of their contained metal, grade, tonnage, shape, densities, physical characteristics.)."
In today's spend-heavy era of American politics, it's admittedly difficult for political candidates to fund their campaigns and their hopes for elected office without reaching far and wide for political handouts. Perhaps now more than ever the question becomes, is it appropriate for a political candidate to take money from groups or individuals that have diametrically opposed interests to at least a segment of the potential or actual constituency of the said candidate?
For Virginia's attorney general, and Republican Party candidate for Virginia governor, Ken Cuccinelli, the answer has unequivocally been, "Yes, I'll take campaign donations just about anyone who offers it." And so the plot thickens.
When asked by an attendee of Cuccinelli's campaign stop at the Hotel Roanoke on Friday whether or not he felt it was acceptable to take campaign donations from Consol, Virginia's attorney general responded, "Well I need a lot more donations. My opponent is outspending me like 2:1." In other words, Cuccinelli's argument is that he's in this 'contest' to win, not to necessarily worry about the ethical implications of his behaviors.
Imagine for a moment the reaction many Americans would have if it was reported Michelle Obama raided her husband's Political Action Committee (PAC) in order to purchase clothing and "unspecified items." There would be a conservative media lynching (and yes, I use these words in full awareness of the historical significance of lynching certain segments of the U.S. population in our country).
For Maureen McDonnell, who according to the Washington Post "bought nearly $9,800 in clothing with money from her husband's political action committee and tapped into his campaign and inaugural funds to buy $7,600 in mostly unspecified items, according to records and a representative for the PAC," there seems to be little more than faint grumbles from Virginia's electorate, as if this were expected or not such a big deal.
Fellow Virginians, it is a big deal because it adds to a growing portrait of a governor and his wife who freely spent donated money and gladly took political donors up on lucrative 'favors' such as stays at plush vacation homes. It is indeed good to be the king.
You have to wonder if Maureen McDonnell will be hyping Anatabloc at the gates to the Redskins camp. Somebody has to make some money off of this fiasco of a deal. As the layers of the arrangement unfold, it is clear that Bankrupt Bob had a hand in it.
From the beginning the numbers did not add up. Richmond would pay the Redskins a half million a year to hold a camp at a facility that Richmond would build for 10 million with a pipedream that Richmond would somehow recover the cost through increased tourism. Well, that might be difficult to determine, but we'll try.
Tammy Hawley, press secretary to Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, said the total costs probably will not be available until "post-camp." - Richmond Times Dispatch
That doesn't help much. So, maybe there is reason for concern:
"We're trying to get information to assess how well they are handling the preparations for this and whether there's going to be a full accounting." - Wayne Taylor, secretary of Better Government for Richmond in the Richmond Times Dispatch
Here's a start. The number of camp visitors is projected at 100,000. Keeping it simple and being generous (the projection has been reduced to 65,000), we'll say all of them come from out of town and they will spend all of their hard earned dollars inside the city of Richmond so that all the tax revenue is generated there. Of the 5.5% state sales tax, something on the order of 1.65% will be returned to the city's general fund. A little math and that means every man, woman, and child attending must spend $303 (so a family of 4 must spend $1212) dollars to cover just the base $500,000 Redskins corporate welfare. We'd better hope for some well healed visitors. And that isn't anything near the bottom line for Richmond. Those figures really need to be doubled or more.
The Virginian Pilot article about Ken Cuccinelli's military service is at the same time a cheap shot and of no significance other than to point out both Julian Walker and Ken should check their facts before going public. The sadder part is that this opens Walker's veracity to criticism.
The real story here: shoddy use of facts by both parties. This has become a common theme regarding all reporting about the military. In my lifetime public perceptions of the military and veterans have swung from the post-Vietnam low point of near-disdain to the post-First Gulf War ascendency to near iconic perfection. While the perception is headed back toward the more accurate middle, the status as a veteran retains its luster...for now.
Maybe that is what Ken was reaching for when he allowed reference to his military service as part of his life vitae. But that invited scrutiny of the story he wove. Unfortunately, when filling the voids in this story, Julian Walker (who very well may have been fished this fable and is now regretting the regard he conferred a veteran and attorney) did not effectively fact check. Or, maybe he tried to contact someone like David Ashe, a reserve Marine Corps Judge Advocate and local Virginia Beach attorney and Ashe deferred. (I would call David, but I choose not to put him on the spot.)
You can read below the fold for the why, but in the end, I assure you that both Cuccinelli and Walker stretched the facts for their own purposes. It reflects more on Cuccinelli who has demonstrated time and again he sees the world through a self-serving lens yet claims to deserve our trust. But, shame on Julian Walker and the Pilot just the same.
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