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UPDATED: Democrats: McDonnell putting profits over people

Rosalind Helderman

The honeymoon is over.

After weeks of bipartisan happy talk about wanting to work cooperatively with Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, the Democratic Party of Virginia took its first real shot at the incoming Republican chief executive late Wednesday.

"McDonnell allows appointees to put profits ahead of Virginians," reads the headline of the party's release.

In the statement, the party and its chairman Dick Cranwell blast McDonnell for allowing his cabinet secretaries, including Commerce and Trade Secretary-designate Robert Sledd, to serve on corporate boards while working for his administration.

"When the rubber hits the road, can Bob McDonnell ensure his nominees serve the best interests of the people of Virginia, and not the corporations that pay them," Cranwell said in the statement. "The only way for Virginians to be sure is for McDonnell to not allow his Secretary of Commerce and Trade to serve both."

"This policy is so unacceptable because, at a minimum, it allows for an appearance of impropriety, and at the worst a true conflict of interest," he continued. "This practice is so blatantly inappropriate even the federal government prohibits it."

The arrangement has been criticized by some government ethics experts. But McDonnell has said he doesn't foresee any conflicts arising from Sledd's service on three corporate boards. If any arise, McDonnell has said Sledd could easily recuse himself from decisions affecting the companies. We'll let you know if his folks have any reaction to the Democrats' statement.

UPDATE: Calling Sledd "one of the most experienced and talented job creators in Virginia," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin responds: "The Governor-elect is focused on bringing Virginians together to create new jobs and get our economy turned around. That's what Virginians want to see in Richmond, and its what Bob Sledd is well- prepared to help make happen as Secretary of Commerce and Trade. This unfortunate partisan press release appears to be modeled on the permanent campaigns of Washington D.C and it won't help Virginians with the challenges they face today."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 6, 2010; 6:22 PM ET
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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