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Virginia Politics Blog: January 17, 2010 - January 23, 2010

Jeanine McDonnell records a CD

Is Jeanine McDonnell considering a singing career? The eldest daughter of Gov. Bob McDonnell often sang on the campaign trail last year. On Saturday, she belted out the Star Spangled Banner at her father's inauguration. Hours later, at the inaugural ball, she sang "You're Still the One" while her parents danced on stage. As a keepsake, the 4,000 tuxedo- and ballgown-wearing guests at the Greater Richmond Convention Center received a copy of a CD that Jeanine recorded entitled "That's My Dad!" The 11 songs include Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from the "Titanic" soundtrack Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" and Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take The Wheel." "My Heart Will Go On" "Wind Beneath My Wings" Her mother, Maureen, closed the First Lady's Luncheon at the Omni Richmond Hotel last Sunday with a recorded version of Jeanine singing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." "God Bless the USA"...

By Anita Kumar  | January 22, 2010; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Senate Democrats praise McDonnell's State of the Union honor

Some leading Democrats are taking a page from the Bob McDonnell playbook in responding to McDonnell's selection by his party's leaders to give the response to President Obama's State of the Union address. You might recall that when Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, McDonnell broke ranks from many in his party and offered nothing but praise for Obama. "I'm delighted to see the President of the United States bring honor to our country by receiving the Nobel Peace Prize," candidate-McDonnell said then. The response was considered a smart way to show some bipartisan bonafides and separate his oft-stated critique of Obama-policy from any personal attacks on the president. Now comes the reaction of Democrats in the state Senate to word that McDonnell has been chosen to lead the opposition to Obama next week. "This is a great honor for Virginia," said Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), who had gotten...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 22, 2010; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  !General Assembly, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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UPDATED: Sledd was officially listed as member of McDonnell's Cabinet

If we had any doubts before, we don't anymore. Gov. Bob McDonnell's Website has finally been corrected to list Jim Cheng -- not Robert Sledd -- as secretary of commerce and trade. You'll remember that less than a day after being inaugurated, McDonnell dropped Sledd as his secretary nominee under pressure from Democratic lawmakers. But instead of totally removing Sledd from the Website, the Richmond businessman has merely been moved down the list as senior economic advisor and member of the Cabinet. We already told you that McDonnell is having Sledd attend daily Cabinet meetings and that he has an office alongside McDonnell's in the Patrick Henry Building. UPDATED: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin called to let us know that Sledd is not a member of the Cabinet and was mistakenly listed on the Website. His name will be removed....

By Anita Kumar  | January 22, 2010; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell reacts to invitation to deliver State of the Union address response

U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner invited Gov. Bob McDonnell to give the response to the State of the Union address while the two men were attending an inaugural dinner at Mount Vernon on Jan. 9. "It is an honor to be chosen by our Republican congressional leaders to deliver the address,'' McDonnell told us in a statement. "I look forward to discussing positive solutions to our shared challenges. That's what we ran on in the campaign, and it's what we are now busy implementing here in Richmond. It will be an idea-driven address focused on solving problems and getting results." McDonnell will be the third Virginian to deliver a response to the State of the Union address in the past five years when he delivers it next Wednesday. Former governor Tim Kaine (D) gave it in 2006. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) gave it in 2007. In Richmond, most...

By Anita Kumar  | January 21, 2010; 7:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, James Webb, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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House kills Kaine's income tax increase proposal

Not surprisingly, former Gov. Tim Kaine's proposal to raise the state income tax was killed in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates this afternoon. Democrats tried to pull the bill before the vote but their Republican counterparts would have none of that. The GOP majority wanted to force Democrats to vote on the bill, leaving them with the choice of raising taxes or voting against Kaine, the chairman of their national party. Kaine's proposal died by a vote of 97-0. Only the sponsor, Del. Bob Brink, abstained from voting on the bill because well, you can't vote against your own bill. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to embarass Kaine and their party. "We all know why this bill is here today,'' House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) said. "It's here to embarrass us. It's here to embarrass Tim Kaine."...

By Anita Kumar  | January 21, 2010; 3:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  !General Assembly, Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell to deliver State of the Union response for Republicans

The Republican Party has selected new Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell to deliver the response to President Obama's State of the Union address later this month.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | January 21, 2010; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell drops Hall from ABC Board

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has removed former Democratic Del. Frank Hall from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, several sources tell us. Hall was informed of the decision before McDonnell was inaugurated Saturday, and left office Friday despite asking repeatedly to be reappointed. Former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine appointed Hall to the commission in April after serving more than three decades in the House. The three ABC commission jobs are widely considered some of the most plum posts in all of state government. The two remaining commissioners -- Susan Swecker, former campaign manager to state Sen. Creigh Deeds, and Bill Pantele, a former Richmond City Council member -- are still at ABC for now. Both Democrats appointed by Kaine and could be removed at any time as McDonnell gets the board ready to make good on a campaign promise to privatize liquor stores. The governor's press office did not answer...

By Anita Kumar  | January 21, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2009, House of Delegates  | Tags:  ABC Board, bob mcdonnell, creigh deeds, frank hall, tim kaine  
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McDonnell hosts private breakfast with key legislators on budget

Gov. Bob McDonnell meets with House and Senate budget conferees for breakfast this morning at the Executive Mansion. (He's keeping the chef at his new home busy -- this is his second legislative breakfast this week.) It will be the conferees' first get together with the new governor, who called it merely a "get-to-know-you meeting." Of course, McDonnell knows the conferees pretty well already since he served with most of them in the General Assembly. "I'm going to outline for them some of the things I think are important,'' McDonnell told reporters yesterday. "I want to tell them how I want to make myself available. I just want to basically tell the conferees that they have tough work -- creating another $2 billion in cuts and adjustments to the budget is going to be tough work on top of the $2 billion Gov. Kaine had already recommended -- and I...

By Anita Kumar  | January 21, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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McDonnell reflects on Brown's win in Massachusetts

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he watched "every bit" of the election returns last night as fellow Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in an election to fill a U.S. senate seat in Massachusetts. "I'm certainly proud of our 18-point victory here in Virginia but to have a seven-point win in deep blue Massachusetts is an astounding thing,'' he told reporters today. McDonnell said Brown campaigned on a pair of simple principles: "This is the people's seat. It doesn't belong to anyone. I want to be your servant, which I feel Massachusetts residents felt was a little bit of a contrast to the attitude they see in Washington and secondly, he feels this massive takeover of the healthcare system by the federal government was a bad idea and was not a good idea for the people of Massachusetts."...

By Anita Kumar  | January 20, 2010; 6:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Rest stop relief coming for desperate drivers in Virginia

Gov. Bob McDonnell visited the Commonwealth Transportation Board this afternoon this afternoon to ask that the board vote to reopen the 19 highway rest stops ordered closed by former Gov. Tim Kaine to save $9 million. And, unsurprisingly, the board voted to do just that. Unanimously. The decision to close the stops was widely unpopular and McDonnell had pledged to reopen them during his campaign for governor. Kaine had asked that they be closed to help address a $4.6 billion shortfall in the state's six-year road improvement program. McDonnell said he would pay for them to be opened by soliciting corporate sponsorship of the stops and employing cheap prison inmate labor to maintain them. The stops will be open within three months, McDonnell has said. More to come....

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 20, 2010; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell reverses Kaine's decision on Soering murder case

It only took four days. In his first reversal of his predecessor's actions, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sent a letter last night to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder revoking the state's consent to the transfer of convicted murderer and former University of Virginia honors student Jens Soering to Germany. In his letter McDonnell said he was not privy to former Gov. Tim Kaine (D)'s decision last week to allow Soering's transfer to his native Germany, nor was he consulted. But since taking office, he has been contacted by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, legislators and others who opposed Kaine's action. "All parties are in agreement that Virginia must oppose this transfer,'' McDonnell said. "I believe that as the Governor of Virginia, with custody of Jens Soering, I am responsible for ensuring that justice is done. It is imperative that Soering serve out his punishment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Consequently, I...

By Anita Kumar  | January 20, 2010; 2:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Does Kaine weather Massachusetts loss as DNC chairman?

So how will yesterday's Democratic debacle in Massachusetts affect former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the national party? Martha Coakley's loss in the blue state is not exactly Kaine's first big loss as party chairman. In November, the party lost his own governorship to Republican Bob McDonnell, in a campaign with some remarkable similarities to the one in Massachusetts. In Virginia, too, Republicans ran against Washington, arguing that their campaign was in part a referendum on President Obama and Democratic health-care reform efforts. In Virginia, too, Democrats -- included Kaine -- suggested their shockingly large 17 point loss was instead a reflection on the weaknesses of candidate R. Creigh Deeds and his campaign. In Virginia too, an unseemly circular firing squad of blame erupted even before polls closed -- in fact, even before polls opened -- over who to blame for the loss. Top White House aides essentially wrote...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 20, 2010; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Election 2010, Rosalind Helderman, Timothy M. Kaine  
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With Brown victory, Webb calls for suspending health care votes

As Democrats reel from the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb becomes the first senator we've seen tonight to call for suspending all votes on health care until newly elected Republican Scott Brown can take office. Some Democrats had been mulling trying to complete health care legislation before Brown can be seated, to maintain their 60 seat super majority in the senate. But if Webb--or others--oppose the move, the 60-vote margin would be gone and the maneuverimpossible. Calling the election an referendum on the "openness and integrity of our government process," Webb wrote in a statement: "It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 19, 2010; 9:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  James Webb, Rosalind Helderman  
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Speaker takes back ethics issue, appoints subcommittee

Eager not to let the Democrats claim control of the ethics issue, House Speaker Bill Howell has appointed a special sub-committee of the Rules Committee to consider the 16 bills filed this year to strengthen Virginia's conflict of interest rules. Democrats have sought to seize the ethics issue since top Republican Del. Phil Hamilton lost reelection largely because he had secured state funding for a university program where he was employed. By appointing a bipartisan committee to examine the issue, Howell signals that he will hope to see the legislative proposals consolidated into just a few bills -- sponsored by members of the GOP, one would imagine....

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 19, 2010; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman  
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UPDATED: House speaker looks to force Democrats to vote on Kaine tax

UPDATED 6:24 p.m.: As expected, the Rules committee voted 13 to 2 to send the income tax proposal directly to the House floor, with no recommendation. Republicans argued the issue is so pressing that it should be considered by the full body immediately. The issue will come up for debate later this week. Republicans in the House of Delegates are preparing to force their friends in the minority party to take a vote on Gov. Tim Kaine's proposal to raise the state income tax. The proposal was not exactly wildly popular, even with Kaine's own party. Kaine (D) argued that a tax increase is a necessary element of any plan to close the state's $4 billion, two-year budget gap. But many Democrats would probably like to avoid voting on the touchy topic and helping to kill a proposal that was one of their governor's last acts in office. No such...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 19, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Filler-Corn to run for Democratic nomination for Fairfax delegate seat

A lobbyist who served under Virginia's past two governors announced Tuesday she would seek the Democratic nomination to fill an empty seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Eileen Filler-Corn, 45, of Springfield said she will run for a vacant seat in the 41st House District, which is in Fairfax County and includes the areas of Burke, Fairfax Station and Springfield. Filler-Corn ran for the 41st House seat in 1999, losing to former Repulican delegate James H. Dillard II, one of the state's longest-serving legislators at the time. Filler-Corn, who is the director of government relations for Albers and Co., an Arlington-based lobbying firm, served as a senior adviser for state and federal relations to former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) from 2006 to 2007. She also previously served as deputy director for the Virginia Liaison Office during former Democratic governor Mark Warner's four-year term, ending in 2005. Del. David...

By Anne Bartlett  | January 19, 2010; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  !General Assembly, Derek Kravitz, Fairfax County, General Assembly 2010  
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UPDATED: McDonnell not invited to appear with Obama in Virginia

This morning, President Obama paid a visit to a Falls Church elementary school to talk about his "Race to the Top" education program. Virginia's new Republican governor Bob McDonnell is a big fan of the program as well as Obama's approach to education, which includes his support of charter schools and merit pay for teachers. So why wasn't McDonnell in Fairfax County talking to kids alongside the president? Turns out the White House didn't invite McDonnell or mention him in his speech. That never happened with Obama's good friend, former Democratic governor Tim Kaine, and we hear the McDonnell folks feel slighted. It's also telling since both McDonnell and Obama talk frequently about the need to work across party lines to get anything accomplished in Richmond and Washington. McDonnell mentioned Obama in his inaugural address Saturday and then again in his speech Monday to the General Assembly Monday. The "Race...

By Anita Kumar  | January 19, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell meets with legislative leaders

As we told you last night, Gov. Bob McDonnell held his first meeting with legislative leaders at the Executive Mansion this morning over breakfast. Spotted leaving the mansion were Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House including House Speaker Bill Howell, House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, House Republican Caucus Chairman Sam Nixon, House Majority Whip Kirk Cox, House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Ken Plum, Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw and Sens. Tommy Norment and Walter Stosch. McDonnell introduced legislators to his Cabinet. The breakfast was largely social and he did not mention his first batch of budget amendments or legislative priorities, which will be released later this week. "This was just a get-acquainted breakfast,'' Saslaw said. Previous governors held regular breakfasts with legislators during their annual session, but it's unclear how often McDonnell will hold them. They did not set another date. McDonnell also...

By Anita Kumar  | January 19, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell to meet with General Assembly leaders

Hours after his first address to the General Assembly tonight, Gov. Bob McDonnell has invited legislative leaders to meet with him behind closed doors tomorrow morning. McDonnell will spend an hour with Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House at the governor's mansion for their first meeting since he was sworn as Virginia's 71st governor Saturday. Previous governors held weekly breakfasts with legislators during their annual session, but its unclear whether McDonnell will continue that tradition. Former Democratic governor Tim Kaine abandoned the practice after legislators stopped attending. McDonnell also plans to meet with House and Senate budget negotiators later this week as he gets ready to release his first set of legislative proposals and budget amendments later this week. Read the prepared text of McDonnell's speech below, followed by the Democrats' prepared response....

By Anita Kumar  | January 18, 2010; 10:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2010, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Virginia Democrats unveil ethics legislation

House and Senate Democrats today unveiled a package of ethics bills in response to the scandal surrounding Phil Hamilton, the former powerful Republican lawmaker now under federal investigation for negotiating a job offer with Old Dominion University before securing state money for the school. "It is important our citizens have faith in an open and honest government,'' House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) said. "As legislators we are here to represent the people's interests, not our own interests." The bills would change the General Assembly Conflicts of Interest statute, which has not been significantly revised in more than 20 years, by creating a single five-member ethics advisory panel (instead of two different bodies) that would be required to hold its proceedings in public and continue investigating even if a legislator resigns from office. "The citizens of Virginia entrust us to serve them with integrity and now more than ever in...

By Anita Kumar  | January 18, 2010; 5:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2009, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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Senate Democrats expand power on key committees

Democratic senators pushed through new committee assignments today that expand their majorities on the chamber's most powerful panels, drawing protests from their Republican colleagues. As we told you last week, Democrats decided to reduce the membership of the key finance committee from 16 to 15 senators, denying a seat to Sen. Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach). Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 22 to 18 in the chamber, will now hold a 9 to 6 majority on the powerful money committee. They will likewise hold 10 to 5 majorities on the Education and Health and Courts of Justice Committees, the graveyards of much of the conservative agenda to the House of Delegates. Republicans complained the changes diluted the power of the minority party and violated the collegiality of the senate. They said they had treated Democrats with more respect while in control of the body from 2001 until 2007, particularly in 2004,...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 18, 2010; 5:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Tea Party floods capitol square, with message to both parties

Members of various groups affiliated with the so-called Tea Party movement are making a show of strength in Richmond today, rallying more than 1,000 demonstrators for a Capitol Square protest and then flooding the General Assembly building to meet with lawmakers. The Martin Luther King Day holiday is traditionally considered Lobby Day in Richmond, with dozens of groups taking advantage of the day off from work to send members to the capital city. But the tea party group appeared to the be largest in recent memory. Wearing "Don't Tread on Me" stickers and holding signs calling for states rights, a reacknowledgement of the 10th amendment of the constitution, limited taxes, lower government spending and--above all--a rejection of the federal health care bill, the group listened to almost two hours worth of speakers, including rousing addresses from Virginia's new attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and Del. Bob Marshall. "The Revolution has begun!"...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 18, 2010; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Speaker removes caucus chairman from committee

The Republican House Speaker, Bill Howell, removed Del. Ken Plum, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, from a committee he has sat on for 28 years. Plum, who has been in the House for three deades and now serves as the Democratic caucus chairman, also served as co-chairman of that same committee, Commerce and Labor, at one time. Plum questions whether he was removed because of his leadership position (he was elected last year to replace Brian Moran, who resigned to run for governor) and raised $400,000 for Democratic candidates in the House last fall. "Why would a 28-year veteran and former chairman be removed?'' he asked. "What's the message in that?'' In the House, the speaker wields absolute control over who sits on which committees. Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff, said the Speaker removed him from Commerce and Labor in order to put him back on another committee...

By Anita Kumar  | January 18, 2010; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates  
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Democratic National Committee reimburses state $23,000 for Kaine's political travel

As one of his last acts before leaving office over the weekend, former Gov. Tim Kaine let the public know just how much taxpayer money he spent on protection while traveling as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The State Police spent $23,055.84 on transportation, hotel and food. The DNC will reimburse the Virginia State Police that amount -- as Kaine pledged to do this summer after coming under fire for traveling out of state so much while still serving as governor. Documents released by Kaine's office Friday -- his last full day in office -- show that he made 20 trips to 18 states from July 10 to Jan. 7. His office had already released information about $7,515.59 worth of expenses for the first six months of 2009, in which he went on 14 out-of-state trips....

By Anita Kumar  | January 18, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Sledd accuses Senate Democrats of "double standard" on appointment

Bob Sledd, Gov. Bob McDonnell's first choice to be secretary of commerce and trade, said in an interview this afternoon that Senate Democrats were holding him to a different standard by not allowing him to remain on corporate boards and recuse himself if a conflict arose. Sledd, a respected Richmond businessman, said legislators recuse themselves all the time and he should have been allowed to do the same. "It's a double standard,'' he said. Sledd said McDonnell gave him a choice late last week to "fight the battle" in the Senate or take on a new position. He said they both agreed that he should take on the job of senior adviser, where he will have an office alongside McDonnell in the Patrick Heny Building and work with several agencies. "I did not want to be disruptive to the new administration,'' he said....

By Anita Kumar  | January 17, 2010; 6:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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BET co-founder Johnson talks up McDonnell as 'presidential material'

Although Virginia's new governor, Robert F. McDonnell, has barely had time to settle into the executive mansion, if he's thinking of moving into a bigger, whiter house someday, he already has an influential and wealthy backer behind him. As an honored guest at the First Lady's Luncheon, Sheila C. Johnson, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, presented Maureen McDonnell with a framed painting of all Republican presidents. "I'm just looking ahead to the future," she said, to whoops and applause in the Omni hotel's ballroom. "This is for whatever room they're going to hang this in, so he can start studying this and preparing."...

By Anne Bartlett  | January 17, 2010; 4:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virgil Goode: "Groups have talked to me about running"

Former Virginia congressman Virgil Goode said in an interview today that "a couple of groups" have asked him to run for his old seat in central and southside Virginia's 5th Congressional District -- and while he didn't say he would, he didn't say he wouldn't, either. Goode, a lawyer from Rocky Mount, said he's paying close attention to the seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Tom Perriello, who unseated Goode two years ago by fewer than 1,000 votes. Goode said his hope is that Republicans will nominate a candidate "who shares most of my beliefs and my ideals." Goode demurred when asked whether that description describes Robert Hurt, the state senator from Chatham who enjoys the backing of a number of state and national Republicans but is not viewed as sufficiently conservative by local Tea Party organizers. Conservative activists are also rankled that party leaders have anointed...

By Amy Gardner  | January 17, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Election 2010, Eric Cantor, Robert Hurt, Tom Perriello  
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McDonnell drops Sledd nomination to Cabinet in response to Democratic opposition

Just hours after being sworn as governor, Bob McDonnell has suffered his first defeat at the hands of the Democratically-controlled state senate, as he quietly drops his nomination of a cabinet secretary whose confirmation they had threatened to block. Instead of swearing in Richmond businessman Bob Sledd as secretary of commerce and trade at a Capitol ceremony Sunday, he administered the oath to fellow businessman Jim Cheng instead and named Sledd to serve as an unpaid Senior Economic Advisor. The position does not require the confirmation of the senate, where Democrats had said they would not vote for Sledd's appointment because they believed his service on the boards of three corporations posed a conflict of interest. McDonnell appears to have sidestepped their concerns over Sledd's potential conflict by giving him a titled advisor position charged with similar responsibilities as he would have held as a commerce secretary. Sledd will remain...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 17, 2010; 11:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell's inaugural money came from donor packages

The folks at the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of political money, have been recording donations to Bob McDonnell's inaugural committee for the last couple weeks. The list reads like a who's who of Virginia's corporate world -- Dominion, Capital One, Northrop Grumman, Altria, AOL, among others. See the full list here. Some of the companies probably just mailed in a check. But others may have decided to take up the commiittee up on an offer to become a "special benefactor" -- for a certain price, of course. For example, according to an invitation we received, the "diamond inaugural benefactor" receives: four tickets to the first lady's luncheon, two tickets to the Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia balls, 10 tickets to the Rchmond Inaugural ball, eight tickets to an inaugural benefactors' gala, four tickets to the inaugural prayer breakfast and recognition in all Inaugural event programs.Cost? $50,000. There...

By Anita Kumar  | January 17, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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