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House Squabbling, Part 2

Anita Kumar

Did Virginia Democrats just beat House Republicans at their own game?

Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton) sponsored a bill that would ban any legislator or statewide official from attending a fundraising event to benefit a political party during the legislative session.

The proposal, which was defeated last year, was seen as a partisan swipe at the Democratic Party of Virginia, which holds its biggest fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day celebration, in the middle of the legislative session.

Yesterday, House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) fought back.

When Saxman's bill came up for a vote, Armstrong suggested an amendment that would also prevent legislators from attending fundraisers put on by any individual or group that contributed to them in the previous year.

But House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) tried to get one up on him. He quickly wrote another amendment that would make the law, if passed by the Senate, go into effect immediately. That could mean this year's Jefferson-Jackson, set for next month, would be cancelled.

The bill passed overwhelmingly. Legislators -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- didn't dare vote against a bill that could be used against them in their next election.

"Rather than seeking to make partisan issue with one dinner, we believe there should be wholesale changes in the way the legislature does business,'' Armstrong said after the vote. "We are glad that our Republican colleagues followed our lead."

The bill will be sent to the Senate. It will likely be amended - again.

By Anita Kumar  |  January 22, 2008; 6:23 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2008  
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