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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 06/ 2/2010

Dems tell McDonnell to go fishing again

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

The way Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell puts it, most longtime business executives incur thousands in SEC fines.

He makes it sound normal that Fred Malek, whom the governor appointed head of a new reform commission, and his company paid $250,000 in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission for purportedly defrauding Connecticut's pension trust fund just a few years ago.

"People that are in business 20, 30, 40, 50 years often have regulatory violations," McDonnell said on WTOP's "Meet the Governor."

Even if that's the case, Democrats are arguing that anyone who leads the charge to reform government must be untainted -- even if the rest of the herd is drinking from the slop bucket.

Initial accusations leveled against Malek focused on a list that he compiled, of Jews working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while serving as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon. But even state Del. David Englin, one of Malek's harshest critics, said that wasn't enough to force a resignation. State Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, both Jewish Democrats, also defended Malek on that account.

Finally, last week, some Democrats figured out what should really get their goat. House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong wrote a letter asking the governor to give Malek the boot because of the SEC issue.

It's not surprising that McDonnell is standing by his appointment, since Democrats haven't turned up their fuss to full throttle. As two of President Obama's appointments did last year, candidates who carry ethical question marks eventually meet their demise or success based on the severity of their breach and the public outcry it prompts.

For Tom Daschle, the $128,000 in back taxes he owed were fatal to his nomination to be secretary of health and human services. But Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recovered politically after paying the $34,000 -- plus interest -- that he owed the IRS.

That's not to say that Malek's $250,000 in SEC fines are comparable to owing the IRS. Still, Democrats aren't just fishing when they tell McDonnell to cast his line in a different pond.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | June 2, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy  
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