Johnson, Malek among McDonnell inauguration chairs
Gov-elect Bob McDonnell has named six men and women to serve as co-chairs of his Jan. 16 inauguration, as he prepares to return the celebration to Richmond after Gov. Tim Kaine's Williamsburg swearing-in four years ago.
In Virginia, the name that will likely draw the most attention is Sheila Johnson, who served in the same role for Kaine in 2005 and completes her campaign-season long alliance with McDonnell by taking on the largely-ceremonial role for the Republican. Will Johnson, a long-time Democratic donor, ever return to the party? It's hard to say, but for now it seems she will enjoy the fruits of her labor on McDonnell's behalf by enjoying his victory celebration.
Outside Virginia, a second co-chair might draw a little attention: Fred Malek, who was the national finance chairman for John McCain's presidential bid and is the founder and chairman of Thayer Capital Partners and former president Marriott and Northwest Airlines. He chaired George H.W. Bush's 1992 campaign for president. So, he's a big-time national Republican figure.
But he's not entirely without controversy.
Those with long memories recall Malek from his time as an aide to Richard Nixon in 1971, when he compiled a list of Democrats working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in response to a request from Nixon of Democrats and "important Jewish figures" working at the agency.
For those with shorter memories, he's also well known as a major ally of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. After spending time with her during the campaign, including at his McLean home where the campaign filmed footage of Palin for ads, he became one of her staunchest defenders after the November loss. (He told our colleague Chris Cillizza in July that McDonnell was anxious for Palin to campaign for him and advocated that kind of political activity for his friend.)
McDonnell's other four co-chairs are the usual assortment of Republican bold-names and top donors. They are: Richard Gilliam, founder and President of Cumberland Resources Corporation, former attorney general Jerry Kilgore, former first lady Susan Allen and former Republican party chairman and McDonnell campaign chairman Ed Gillespie.
November 17, 2009; 2:23 PM ET
Categories: Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman
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