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Virginia Politics Blog: March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010

Guardians of the free Republics sent letters to McDonnell, governors

The letters sent to more than 30 governors, including Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia, demanding that they resign or be removed from office came from an anti-government, group, Guardians of the Free Republics. Guardians of the Free Republics aspires to restore the U.S. republic by peacefully dismantling parts of the government, according to its Web site. Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University who has studied anti-government groups for more than two decades, said the delivery of the demands -- to so many governors -- is unprecedented. "Given how emotional politics has become, it has to be taken seriously,'' he said. "On the one hand, it's absurd. On the other hand, given the time it took to contact 30 governors, it's not easily dismissed." Mark Potok, an editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks extremists and hate speech, said the group stems from the "sovereign citizen" movement, including...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 3, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Protest planned for mosque's fundraiser in Northern Virginia

Several groups are planning a protest in Northern Virginia on Saturday outside a fundraiser for a Falls Church mosque, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, that they say has been linked to violence.

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 2, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Fairfax County , General Assembly 2010 , Gerald E. Connolly , House of Delegates , James P. Moran Jr. , Timothy M. Kaine  
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UPDATED: Salazar: Lifting of oil drilling moratorium will allow for a 'look and see' off Va. coast

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sounded a note of caution about the idea that there will soon be extensive oil drilling off the shores of Virginia after a lunch meeting with Gov. Bob McDonnell at Richmond's executive mansion today, where he said the topic came up. Salazar, in Richmond to promote a report on job creation in March that showed the largest job growth in three years, said initial efforts off Virginia's coast will be something of a "look and see" expedition to determine whether further drilling is in order. "My own view is that when you look at the Atlantic, we're still very much in the look and see mode," Salazar said. "Unlike the places like the Gulf of Mexico, where we know there is already significant development and you have the geophysical information and you have the infrastructure that is there -- you can see oil and gas development...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 2, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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State employee argues to Va. Supreme Court that he was fired for being gay

Whenever Gov. Bob McDonnell discusses the issue of discrimination protections in the state workforce, one thing he is always quick to mention with pride is that there have been very few allegations of discrimination on any grounds in the state workforce in recent years. And he is probably right -- such allegations may be rare. But they are not unheard of. Take, for instance, the case of Michael Moore (not the filmmaker). This Moore contends he was forced to resign from his position as at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville in 2006 because he is gay. The Virginia Supreme Court heard an oral petition from his attorney to review his case just this week. Moore probably has only a limited chance at legal success. His case was dismissed by a circuit court in Martinsville and the Supreme Court justices might well decide the case entirely on jurisdictional...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 2, 2010; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell, other governors receive letter threatening 'removal' if they don't resign

The FBI is investigating a threatening letter sent to Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) this week. The letter was received at the governor's office in Richmond Wednesday. It was turned over to the Virginia State Police, which sent it to the Richmond FBI office. The governor's office released a statement Friday morning that said the "the Governor and his family are secure." FBI Agent M.A. Myers declined to say what the letter said, but the Associated Press is reporting that a group called called Guardians of the Free Republics demanded that McDonnell step down within three days or he would be removed. McDonnell was one of many governors across the nation who received a letter, and Myers said the FBI is aware of who sent the letters. No arrests have been made. The threats come after a series of threats against several members of Congress, mostly Democrats. A Philadelphia...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  April 2, 2010; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (68)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Cuccinelli to challenge new fuel standards as based on erroneous EPA global warming findings

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be challenging new standards for fuel efficiency for cars and trucks finalized today by the Obama administration and Enivironmental Protection Agency. Cuccinelli has already filed suit against the EPA's determination that it can regulate greenhouse gases because they cause global warming that is harmful to human health. In a statement, Cuccinelli's spokesman said he believes today's announcement, which was prompted by the EPA finding about greenhouse gases that he is challenging, amounts to a "tacit denial" of his request that the EPA reconsider its determination. "In that motion, the attorney general's office asked the EPA to reopen its proceedings in light of the recent evidence that the reports the EPA was relying on for its decision contained erroneous and/or unverifiable global temperature and other data," said spokesman Brian Gottstein in a statement. "We will file a notice of appeal with respect to today's ruling."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 1, 2010; 4:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Maternity units to close at two local Virginia hospitals

Two small Virginia hospitals announced this week that they will be closing their maternity wards. When the General Assembly was debating the state budget, we talked some about the struggles of hospitals across the state to make ends meet with state funds shrinking, particularly smaller rural hospitals that serve large numbers of patients on Medicaid. In the past eight years, six Virginia hospitals had closed their maternity wings. Now, add Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington and Bedford Memorial Hospital to the list. CSJH has announced that it will close its unit April 30; Bedford will close its practice Oct. 1. Birthing units are often the wings most hurtful to a hospital's bottom line -- more patients on Medicaid (which reimburses less than the cost of care) combined with the need for 24/7 coverage, even if the hospital only delivers a few babies a week or less. Both hospitals cited...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 1, 2010; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Richmond executive mansion gets its own vegetable garden

The first lady gathered children together today to plant a community garden that she and her chef will use in cooking for the first family, to promote healthy eating habits. No, not that first lady -- Michelle Obama worked her garden at the White House yesterday. Today it was Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell's turn to install a garden, tucked behind the executive mansion in Richmond's Capitol Square, at the end of a driveway and next to the mansion's rose garden. (Yup, it's got one of those, too.) "Children today, they have what I call a 'culture of convenience,' " McDonnell said. Microwavable and fast food abound. "You have to make a direct effort to get outside of that."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 1, 2010; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Saslaw: Transportation will get 'not one farthing' from oil drilling

As Gov. Bob McDonnell hails the decision by President Obama to allow oil drilling off Virginia's coast, the state legislature's Cassandra of oil drilling has issued his standard note of caution about the issue. "We're not going to get one penny. Not one farthing," said Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax), senate majority leader, this morning. Saslaw said he has no problem with drilling and applauded the president's announcement. But despite the lifting of the drilling moratorium, Saslaw said he remains unconvinced state roads will benefit from the decision. But during the fall campaign, McDonnell had pledged to spend revenues Virginia earns from oil drilling on improving state roads. And the General Assembly passed a bill this year that would, indeed, devote 80 percent of future revenues for transportation. "What I have the problem with is holding out a hope that right now is nothing more than a pipe dream," Saslaw To...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 1, 2010; 11:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Transportation  
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McDonnell touts cutting spending, refusing to raise taxes on national TV

Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) talked about his refusal to raise taxes to help offset a $4 billion budget shortfall while appearing on The Kudlow Report on CNBC. "We can't continue to raise taxes and spend more,'' McDonnell said. "That's not a recipe for success." The General Assembly adopted a budget last month that cuts millions from education, health care and public safety -- returning spending to 2006 levels. McDonnell is reviewing the budget and will offer amendments. "We thought it was the right thing to do to reduce spending,'' McDonnell said. "There were some tough decisions in education and health care, but we got through a balanced budget done on time ... I think it is the right policy for Virginia." See the clip here....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 1, 2010; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Virginia leaders, environmentalists react to drilling news

Gov. Bob McDonnell held a press conference to tout the news that Virginia could be the first state on the East Coast to drill for oil and natural gas. "This is part of our plan to truly make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast,'' McDonnell (R) said at the South Portico of the state Capitol. "This is a great day for Virginia. It's one that we will say that in the near future has generated a significant number of jobs. This is the breakthrough." McDonnell estimates that natural gas alone will produce 2,600 jobs, $8 billion in capital investments, $644 million in payroll and $271 million in tax revenue over 10 years. The oil, he said, could produce much more. Most Virginia leaders -- regardless of their political party -- have expressed interest in joining Alaska, Texas, Louisiana and other states in setting up offshore platforms to drill...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 31, 2010; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Democrats accuse Bolling of hypocrisy on federal stimulus funds

You have to hand it to Democrats. When they start a line of attack, they stick with it. For months, they've been singling out Republicans across the nation who opposed the federal stimulus legislation but then welcomed the money. Their latest target? Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. For well over a year, Bolling has been critical of the stimulus bills, calling them "massive federal spending bills that would result in the largest expansion of government in 40 years." He said last year that the package "will balloon the size of the federal government and increase the federal debt dramatically, and it will do little to stimulate economic growth." But last week, Bolling -- on behalf of Gov. Bob McDonnell -- touted $13.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will be spent on 39 energy conservation projects proposed by local governments. "Jobs will be the first dividend from...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 31, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Obama to allow gas and oil drilling off Virginia coast

President Obama is set to announce that he will allow oil and gas drilling 50 miles off Virginia's coast, including a possible sale two years from now of leases off the state's shores. The decision, which Obama will announce with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base this morning, ends a long-standing ban on drilling along much of the East Coast, from Delaware to central Florida. Read the full story by Post reporter Juliet Eilperin. Obama's move will represent a victory for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who campaigned last year on making the state the "Energy Capital of the East Coast" and using proceeds from drilling to pay for transportation. (Congress would still need to pass a bill allowing Virginia to receive royalties.) Most Virginia leaders -- regardless of political party -- have expressed interest in drilling for oil and natural gas, including both U.S. Sens. Jim Webb...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 31, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell signs bills in NoVa to create jobs

Republican and Democratic legislators joined Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) this afternoon in Northern Virginia as he signed a package of bills designed to create jobs and spur economic development.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 30, 2010; 5:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Obama signs bill into law at Northern Virginia Community College

At the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College today, President Obama signed into law revisions to his health-care bill that include changes designed to make higher education more affordable. In a signing ceremony, Obama said the health-care reform legislation and the revisions represent "two major victories ... that will improve the lives of our people for generations to come." Read the full report by Post reporter William Branigin. Virginia state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), one of the sponsors of a bill that makes it illegal for the state to require citizens to purchase health care, said she was surprised to hear Obama say today that members of Congress respond to what they're hearing in communities. "If President Obama had been listening to the people, this law would not be on the books," she said. "If Harry Reid had been listening to the people, the Senate would have voted...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 30, 2010; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , State Senate  
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McDonnell defends Steele, invites Palin to Virginia

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said today that he continues to support Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who came under fire Monday after financial reports showed that the party used tens of thousands of donor dollars for luxury hotels, private jets and other questionable expenditures. "I think he's a good leader. People always like to focus on the controversy and not on the good news,'' McDonnell said. "Listen, he helped to win the governors races in Virginia and in New Jersey, helped to win the Senate race up in Massachusetts. That's a pretty good track record. I think ultimately you're judged by your results." McDonnell was asked about Steele on his appearance on the monthly "Ask the Governor" program on WTOP radio this morning. The RNC report Monday showed a payment for "meals" at Voyeur nightclub in West Hollywood, which features topless dancers wearing horse bridles and other bondage gear...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 30, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Virginia leaders watch eagerly as Congress expects to consider offshore drilling royalty bills

A few weeks ago, the General Assembly passed a bill that directs 70 percent of future oil or gas drilling royalties to state road improvements. That was the easy part. In order to actually receive any money, Congress would still need to pass a bill allowing Virginia to receive royalties. It's an uphill battle. Many members of Congress representing interior states oppose royalties for coastal states. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) expects to introduce a royalty bill later this year, according to his staff, but they did not yet have details on the proposal. Senators working on a massive federal energy bill are also considering royalties of 25 percent for coastal states, according to recent reports. And last week, U.S. Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced a bill known as the Virginia Access to Energy Act that would allow drilling offshore with proceeds being split equally between Richmond and Washington....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 30, 2010; 9:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Eric Cantor , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , James P. Moran Jr. , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Hugo, O'Bannon to compete for House GOP caucus chairman

Dels. Tim Hugo of Fairfax and John O'Bannon of Henrico are vying to replace Del. Sam Nixon as the House GOP's caucus chairman. Nixon (R-Chesterfield) is resigning his seat to become Virginia's chief information officer under Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). Nixon will take office April 5 and the governor will soon set a date for the special election. Hugo and O'Bannon have been working the phones and sending out e-mails trying to drum up support. Del. Kirk Cox, the House's GOP whip, is backing Hugo, but Speaker Bill Howell and Majority Leader Morgan Griffith are staying out of the race. Republican delegates will probably vote April 21, the day the General Assembly returns to Richmond for one day to act on the governor's amendments and vetoes....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 29, 2010; 4:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Updated: Norman Leboon charged with threatening to kill Cantor and his family

A Philadelphia man has been charged with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and his family. A two-count complaint and warrant was filed today accusing Norman Leboon, 33, of threatening to kill Cantor and his family in a YouTube video posted online this month, according to U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jan Fedarcyk.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 29, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (98)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Eric Cantor  
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Allen searches for a fundraiser, defends Cuccinelli; stays mum on Senate race

George Allen, the former Republican governor and senator who may be eyeing a rematch against Democratic U.S. Jim Webb in 2012, is inching ever so slightly closer to a run for political office by deciding to hire a fundraiser. We hear Allen has spoken to a couple top political fundraisers in recent days. But when we asked asked him about it last week, he declined to comment and said: "I've not made a decision on a senate run.'' As we've told you before, Allen has indicated a strong interest in running against Webb. And while he continues to ponder his future, he continues to stay active in the political world. Allen has been traveling around the state, started a conservative think tank, been on radio and television, and is penning a book. Next month he'll be the high-profile speaker at the Shad Planking. On Friday, Allen sent a letter to...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 29, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , George F. Allen , James Webb , Ken Cuccinelli  
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Former Virginia congressman Stan Parris dies

Stan Parris, 80, who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Northern Virginia, died Saturday of heart disease at his home in Mathews County. Parris, a Republican, served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and in the Virginia House of Delegates, was secretary of the commonwealth and ran for governor twice. Read today's full obituary by Post reporter Matt Schudel. In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell said Parris's contributions to the state can best be seen in his home region of Northern Virginia. "He played major leadership roles in the creation of the HOV lanes on I-395, the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria and the Four-Mile Run Flood Control Project,'' McDonnell said. "He was an original member of the Board of Trustees of George Mason University. He led the way in the effort to close Lorton prison. His legislation ended blackouts of sold-out NFL games,...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 28, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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