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Democrats Opposed Askew, Too

Amy Gardner

The Republican Party of Virginia, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell and state Sen. Ken Stolle want you to know something about the controversial reappointment hearing in 2003 of Newport News Circuit Judge Verbena M. Askew: Two prominent Fairfax County Democrats, Janet Howell and now-Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, also voted to deny Askew a second term.

The Post published a story this morning about McDonnell's role in the episode.

Askew was voted off the bench after an emotional, seven-hour hearing during which she and other witnesses were questioned extensively about her judicial conduct and also the fact that she had been the subject of a sexual harassment claim by a female colleague. Askew denied the claim, but the city of Hampton, where Askew operated a drug court and which was also named in the claim, settled with the accuser for $64,000.

Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), who led the hearing as chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, said Saslaw's and Howell's votes with the majority are a crucial detail left out of the story this morning. He said the fact of their votes dispels the idea that the committee proceeding was about Askew's alleged sexual orientation -- something he and other senators denied vigorously at the time, as well.

Saslaw and Howell both said at the time that the hearing was as fair as it could be. McDonnell, too, was credited with making sure that witnesses testifying on behalf of Askew were allowed to speak.

However, McDonnell's role in the episode -- and the focus of this morning's story -- stretched beyond the hearing itself when he spoke individually to a reporter about the relevance of homosexual behavior to qualifying to be a judge.

By Amy Gardner  |  September 9, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Next: Updated: The Pawlenty-McDonnell Press Conference

Comments

McDonnell & Co. went after Judge Annunziata that same session for her dissenting opinion in a child custody case involving a lesbian mother.

http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/usa/virginia/vanews108.htm

Their agenda was clear then and it is clear now. They were on a witch hunt for sinners and were trying to politicize and intimidate the judiciary.

Posted by: FederalGraphics | September 9, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Nice. Attack McDonnell on the front page, and save the info on Democrats Saslaw and Howell for the blog.

Is that what they call "balance" at the Post?

Posted by: willbstar | September 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Gardner,

Hey, I'm a Dem. So is my wife, my parents, her parents, etc. No kidding.

SO, three questions for you.

1. Are YOU the terrible journalist?
2. Are your EDITORS terrible journalists?
3. All of the above?

Unbelievably Horrible day for the Post. You may have swayed a few votes for Deeds, but you and your editors lost a lot of respect with me.

Posted by: HumbleGovWorker | September 9, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

So what if Howell and Saslaw voted the way they did? That is not the POINT! The point is the way McDonnell has a history, pattern, and RECORD of asserting himself into things that he shouldn't really to POLTICIZE his social agenda. Period.

To people who are trying to argue he won't attempt to govern the same way, I've got a bridge in Newport News I'd like to sell ya!

And HumbleGovWorker, actually (and I've had my criticisms of Amy Gardner in the past myself), Amy has done an excellent job in this case of providing readers with an accurate portrait of McDonnell...very accurate....all because Mr. McDonnell HIMSELF referred Ms. Gardner to his thesis....in a sense, this really was Mr. McDonnell's own "macaca" moment, and his very undoing.

Cat's out of the bag folks, people are now going to know the real Bob McDonnell, no matter how hard he tries to "re-invent" himself.

Virginia voters smell FAKE a million miles away, and they don't like people who try to be someone other than who they are...

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | September 9, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

This article has nothing to do with the gubernatorial race. So what if a couple of "D's" opposed Ms Askew. Mr Deeds did not.

Bobby McD did oppose Ms. Askew and more important made intolerant statements about the reason for his opposition. Bobby McD is doing his best to hide his openly expressed intolerant discriminatory views solely to further his race for governor. Stop lying Bobby McD. Your nose is getting very long.

At one time in our country's history there were people intolerant of women voting and women having equal rights. There was discrimination against immigrants such as the Irish and the Italians. There was discrimination against blacks. We need to be constantly vigilant to prevent discrimination. Bobby McD will only push Virginia backwards.

Posted by: Willis3 | September 9, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I really don't understand these guys who are upset about stories about McDonnell's past.

* McDonnell builds his entire legislative career on divisive social issues.
* He gets elected AG and stays beneath the radar.
* Declares for Governor, claims an epiphany and flip flops on 10 issues.
* Then says his pre-campaign record is irrelevant.

Now all of these Republicans get made when the paper writes stories about McDonnell's actual record?

I thought that's what newspapers are supposed to do as opposed to simply repeating all of the pablum that the campaigns want them to print?

Do you all want a Fourth Branch or a lap dog?

Posted by: FederalGraphics | September 9, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

As they say in the news business, "oops." Pretty sloppy jounalism Ms. Gardner, but nothing that we haven't seen you pull before. This stunt pales in comparison to some of your Tyson's Corner expansion stuff.

However, the truth of the matter is that the WaPo's incredibly ham-handed handling of this, esp. Ms. Gardner's rather pathetic rationalizing, isn't likely to move any votes in either direction. The Democrats are going to vote for Deeds no matter how inept his campaign is, including the latest mud-slinging, and the Republicans are going to vote for McDonnell regardless of (or in some cases because of) the fact that he is an unrepentant Neanderthal. It is the Independents who elect Virginia politicians and we care very little about the social wars that seem to consume the political parties. Abortion, gay rights, public school religious displays, etc, mean nothing to us in comparison to transportation, jobs, and education. As always, we will elect the person whom we believe is best qualified to address those issues.

Posted by: hisroc | September 9, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

This rates a big "SO WHAT?" There are PLENTY of reasons one may not support re-nominating a judge without running afoul of unlawful discrimination. I daresay some opposed the re-nomination of Judge "pantsman," and it had nothing to do with racial or gender or any other impermissible discrimination. Why on earth would you equate McDonnell's opposition to anybody else's? Was their opposition also rooted in unlawful discrimination? If so, it is worth examining, but if not, then they are not equal and should not be portrayed as equivalent.

Posted by: gasmonkey | September 9, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Nice of you to include this in your dead tree story to make it objective.

I'm saddened by how much you weaken the credibility of the Post when you write stories portraying a candidate as extreme and then give an afterthought addendum that adds an entirely different, more balanced dimension to it (only to a lesser audience).

I used to vehemently defend the Post when others accused it of a liberal agenda, even during this most recent presidential campaign. I'm disheartened that Ms. Gardner has clearly proven me wrong.

Where are the articles on Deeds' social agenda? His fairly extreme take on gun control (or lack thereof)? The massive funding he has from unions who want to enact an intimidating, undemocratic measure (card check) in VA, as Politco has reported? His lack of any distinguishing plan for Virginia?

I'm fine with articles that scrutinize the candidates, in fact, I want them.

Bob McDonnell's law school thesis isn't the only issue worth scrutiny in this campaign.

Posted by: csw2005 | September 9, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

He is obsessed with ideology and essentially a Christian Fundamentalist. Once in power, he has demonstrated that his narrow biblical views on "morality" and sexuality must be instrumental to his decisions. Tell him to keep his extreme right wing religious views to himself. In America, Church is separate from State.

Posted by: thebobbob | September 9, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

When I read the Post article, I found the front half to be quite critical of McDonnell's behavior in 2003. I found it strange that the second half of the article appeared to show that McDonnell was fair and that he behaved appropriately during the hearing. Almost as if two different writers were involved.

Posted by: johnemory | September 9, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey, let me know when Saslaw or Howell are running for Chief Executive of the Commonwealth and I will care.

Nice try, GOP-Bozos.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | September 9, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: StewartIII | September 9, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

One more WaPo hit piece. Unbelieveable- it's as if, even when they cover marginally tengential issues, they can't do it fairly. I wonder if Ms. Gardner even had a straight face while doing this???

Fact is this: This is a BAD recession. One candidate is talking about Jobs, Energy, Education, Transportation. That's Bob.

One candidate is inexplicably talking about 20-year-old theses and some obscure, indicted judge that even Dems couldn't stomach! Hello, Sen Deeds.

Deeds needs to think of a plan, then talk about it. The Post needs to hold his feet to the fire until he does. Only then will we have a real debate about issues that matter to Virginians, many of whom are really hurting right now.

Posted by: SpotsySteve | September 9, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse


I do not see how the Post can continue to employ either Amy Gardner or the editor responsible for overseeing this morning's story on McDonnell. To omit crucial, easily discoverable facts that undercut the thrust of the narrative is a very serious lapse. If the Post cares about its reputation, it will not stand for this lack of professionalism.

Posted by: coastofutopia | September 9, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

The Post is also ignoring Deeds' 1999 campaign ad in which he proudly states that he believes in "NO SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR GAYS." Deeds goes on to boast that "I have never voted to allow gay partners to receive medical insurance -- or any other benefit -- from the state."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/09/creigh_deeds_in_99_no_special.asp

It's pretty clear that the Post has made up its mind to tell only half the story.

Posted by: tomtildrum | September 10, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

However, McDonnell's role in the episode -- and the focus of this morning's story -- stretched beyond the hearing itself when he spoke individually to a reporter about the relevance of homosexual behavior to qualifying to be a judge. Were the two Democrats interviewed? No comments on this or did they or didn't comment.

Posted by: ZebZ | September 10, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

ZebZ, the problem with your point is that McDonnell actually said he didn't think homosexuality disqualified anyone to be a judge. It would have been nice if, instead of Ms. Gardner characterizing McD's comments, if she had simply quoted him and let us decide what they meant. I suspect she might not have gotten her "gotcha" moment, but it would have been better journalism.

You know, Ms. Gardner is on record as being a donor (not a huge one, but significant) to Dem candidates in VA. In light of how terribly this story was written and presented, it raises questions of if she is even qualified to write on this horserace.

Posted by: SpotsySteve | September 10, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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