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Virginia Politics Blog: May 9, 2010 - May 15, 2010

McDonnell won't stop Walker execution

Gov. Bob McDonnell has denied clemency for a Virginia man convicted in two separate shooting deaths. McDonnell said Saturday he found no compelling reason to stop Thursday's scheduled execution of 37-year old Darick Demorris Walker. Walker was convicted of killing Stanley Beale in 1996 and Clarence Elwood Threat in 1997. Virginia law allows the death penalty for anyone who commits two premeditated murders within three years. Walker's attorneys have said his mental capabilities do not meet the constitutional threshold for execution. They also argued that prosecutors withheld evidence that cast doubt on the eyewitness testimony of one of the victims' daughter. -- The Associated Press...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  May 15, 2010; 10:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell  
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U.-Va. hires legal counsel as it prepares for possible fight over Cuccinelli subpoena

The University of Virginia has hired the big law firm Hogan Lovells to help the school evaluate its options in responding to a civil subpoena from the state attorney general seeking documents related to the work of a former professor. It's the strongest indication yet that the school is seriously considering fighting the subpoena in court, as various academic groups have urged. "The University and its Board of Visitors believe it is important to respond to this [civil information demand]," said John O. Wynne, the Rector of the university, in his first statement on the issue. "Research universities must defend the privilege of academic freedom in the creation of new knowledge. Hogan Lovells will help us to explore the appropriate options for a response." The university has until May 27 to decide whether to petition a court to intervene. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is seeking documents related to the...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 14, 2010; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Global warming, Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia  
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Cuccinelli joins letter to Topix.com about abusive online comments

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has signed on to a letter with 22 other state attorneys general demanding that the online message board Topix.com cease charging $19.99 to provide expedited review for inappropriate messages left on the board. An initial investigation into Topix by Kentucky and Connecticut found that obscene and abusive messages are routinely left in the "forums and polls" section of the popular online site, a violation of the site's terms of service. But when the company is alerted by users to the inappropriate posts, it charges $19.99 for a quick review. "Targets of false, abusive, or obscene posts are being victimized a second time by being charged a removal fee for having the site take those posts down," Cuccinelli said in a statement. "I find it deplorable that a website would deliberately create an environment where these types of comments - many of them directed at children...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 14, 2010; 4:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia  
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Gingrich in Va.: A Republican Congress could defund health care law

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he believes there is a 50-50 chance the federal health care reform bill will be fully repealed in 2013, if President Obama is defeated in the 2012 election and Republicans take over Congress. In the meantime, he said that if a Republican majority takes over the House or Senate in November, he would advise them to defund the initiative and stop reform effort. "Remember, you don't have to repeal the bill," he said. "You can just have an appropriations rider that says no money can be spent to implement it." Gingrich's comments came at a health-care industry sponsored conference held by Center for Health Transformation, a project of his consulting firm....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 14, 2010; 4:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Newt Gingrich  
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Updated: House Democrats call on McDonnell to support bipartisan redistricting

Leaders of the House Democratic caucus are calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to include bipartisan redistricting in his new commission on government reform, which will search for ways to shave hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget and make government more user-friendly. "We hope that you will keep your pledge to Virginians and put forward this cost-saving and good government proposal as part of your larger government restructuring agenda,'' Dels. Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum wrote in a letter to McDonnell today. McDonnell publicly endorsed bipartisan redistricting during the gubernatorial campaign, breaking with Republicans in the House. But he didn't send anyone from his office to support any of the redistricting bills in the General Assembly this year. At the time, his spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said the governor did not put his support behind any of the redistricting bills but that "the governor intends to honor his...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 14, 2010; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Major business group joins national suit against health care law, but not Cuccinelli's

The National Federation of Independent Business, a leading small business group, has joined the lawsuit against the federal health care law. No, not Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's suit. The group has joined the other lawsuit that was filed in Florida in March by by 12 attorneys general. Eight other states have now joined that suit, making it the main national legal effort to have a court rule that the federal health care law is unconstitutional. Cuccinelli has said he filed a suit seperate from other states because Virginia, uniquely, had already adopted its own state statute declaring it illegal to require an individual to purchase health care. But our colleauge David Weigel reported this week that there is a growing fear from conservatives, including some Republican Attorneys General, that Cuccinelli's suit could derail their own larger effort by setting an early precedent on the issue. After all, Cuccinelli has...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 14, 2010; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Attorney General of Virginia, Health care, Ken Cuccinelli  
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Gingrich comes to Virginia for his sixth health care talk

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will join Gov. Bob McDonnell, a fellow Republican, in Richmond Friday for a panel discussion on health care -- Gingrich's sixth such talk as he travels across the nation. Since 2008, Gingrich has gone to Minnesota, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri and Florida. In three of those states, he was joined by Republican governors -- Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. The events are sponsored by the Center for Health Transformation, launched in 2003 as a project of Gingrich's consulting firm. Companies pay $15,000 to sponsor the event, which gets an official a seat on the panel. Alissa Momberg, a spokeswoman for the Gingrich Group, said the money covers the costs of the event and staff time. The four sponsors of the Virginia event are Anthem BlueCross BlueShield; Availity, DaVita and Novo Nordisk (which has asked George...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 14, 2010; 9:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Virginia reaches initial agreement for major new port lease

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will announce tonight that the Virginia Port Authority has reached an agreement in principle to lease the three-year old APM Terminals in Portsmouth, the only privately owned and operated port in North America. If approved by APM's executives, based in the Netherlands, and the commissioners of the Port Authority, the agreement would mean that the new $500 million Portsmouth facility will be added to the state's three other port facilities in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News. The state has been negotiating with the company for 18 months. In a statement, McDonnell said the agreement would expand the capacity of the authority-run ports, allowing them to capture more cargo coming to the East Coast. Cargo loads will vastly increase after an expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, and East Coast ports are in a stark competition to capture the business. "Combining this technologically advanced facility with...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Virginia revenues rise for second month, still forecasted to be down for the year

Virginia has posted tax revenue growth for the second month in a row, the first two consecutive months of growth in two years and a "small indicator," Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said, that there are positive developments in the economy. The revenue growth is some mild good news. General fund revenues grew .4 percent in April 2010 over April 2009. That's not quite as good as last month, during which revenues grew 3 percent over March 2009. And despite the two months of growth, revenues for the year are down 3.6 percent for the year -- that's 1.3 percent more than had originally been predicted. Still, there are other bright spots in the monthly report. Corporate income tax revenue jumped a whopping 38.7 percent and sales and use taxes rose by 7.3 percent. The governor's office reports that the latter is the largest jump since May 2008, with the exception...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Moran weighs in on Cuccinelli subpoena

We haven't heard from a lot from Democratic politicians on the topic of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's global warming subpoena to the University of Virginia, but perhaps that's about the change. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D) sent Cuccinelli a particularly blistering letter about Cuccinelli's attempt to get documents related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann, a former U-Va. professor. "History will neither reflect kindly on those who reject science in the pursuit of short-term economic and political gain, nor will it look kindly on your attempt to tarnish the good name of Professor Michael Mann," he wrote. Read the full letter here....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Climate change, Global warming, Jim Moran, Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia  
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UPDATED: Virginia GOP vets take on Kagan over recruiting

A group of 10 Republican delegates and senators in the Virginia General Assembly are wading into the battle over President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. All veterans, they are asking Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner to question Kagan about her opposition to military recruiting on campus during her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School. Kagan opposed allowing military recruiters on campus because she believed the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy for gay service members violated Harvard's nondiscrimination policy. She wrote an amicus brief in a lawsuit designed to overturn the Solomon Amendment, which requires universities that accept federal funding to allow recruiters. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Kagan's position. In a letter distributed by the Republican Party of Virginia, the legislators write, "We are deeply concerned about the judicial philosophy of a candidate for the highest court in...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 12:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Civil War Trust: Eight of 25 most endangered battlefields belong to Virginia

A few weeks ago, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) visited Chancellorsville to sign legislation designed to help preserve Civil War battlefields in Virginia. He better move fast. The Civil War Preservation Trust is out today with its annual listing of the top 10 most endangered war sites in the country, and three from Virginia make the list. They include Cedar Creek, Va., site of an 1864 battle, which the trust says is endangered by limestone mining; Thoroughfare Gap, Va.--near Haymarket--where a strategically important small engagement took place in 1862 and there are plans for a cell phone tower; and the Wilderness, site of a large 1864 battle and home to a raging local battle over whether to build a Walmart. McDonnell was asked his opinion of the Wilderness Walmart when he visited Chancellorsville and he said he would leave the decision to local officials. Five more Virginia sites make the Trust's...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 11:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Cedar Creek, Civil War, Civil War Preservation Trust, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia  
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U.Va. will ask Cuccinelli for more time to consider court challenge to subpoena

University of Virginia officials plan to ask the attorney general if they can have more time before they must decide whether to pursue a court challenge to his civil subpoena of documents related to a climate scientist who is a former professor. That's according to an email late Wednesday from university spokeswoman Carol Wood. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has already agreed to give the school more time to comply with the subpoena--allowing the Board of Visitors until July 26 to turn over documents. But according to the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, the law under which Cuccinelli filed his civil investigative demand, the school faces another looming deadline: a May 20 cut-off for deciding whether to go to court over the issue. The law says someone who receives one of these subpoenas can petition a judge to set it aside. But they must do so within 21 days from...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Michael Mann  
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More than 500 jobs lost with closing of Henry County furniture plant

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling have issued a lengthy joint statement responding to an announcement today from Stanley Furniture will close a manufacturing plant in economically hard hit Henry County, putting 530 people out of work. The company said it will outsource production of its adult furniture line overseas. in their statement, McDonnell and Bolling acknowledged the announcement is a blow to their efforts to revitalize the Virginia economy, particularly in manufacturing communities where the unemployment rate is significantly higher than in other parts of Virginia. They called it a "a setback for the economy of Southern Virginia and personally devastating to the workers and families who will be impacted. Stanley Furniture's decision to close their Henry County plant is a disappointing development for a region that has long struggled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the Commonwealth." Still, the two noted legislative efforts...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 12, 2010; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Stanley Furniture, Virginia  
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Cantor asks for votes: What should government cut?

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) today launches a new web application called YouCut, giving ordinary citizens a forum for suggesting ways to cut government spending. You can read more on Cantor's proposal and reaction from Democrats on our colleague Dave Weigel's Right Now blog. Something interesting to remember as Cantor takes the reins on an effort to cut spending: Virginia gets more than its share of federal spending. In 2008, 30 percent of the entire Virginia economy came directly from federal spending....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 12, 2010; 5:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Eric Cantor, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, National Budget, Virginia  
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'Norfolk 4' homicide detective indicted for extortion

The homicide detective at the heart of the controversial "Norfolk 4" case, which involved four sailors who claimed they were coerced into falsely confessing to rape and murder, has been arrested and charged in federal court in Norfolk with taking money from criminal suspects in exchange for lying on their behalf to prosecutors and even to a judge in court.

By Washington Post Editors  |  May 12, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Cuccinelli endorses Fimian in GOP race to face Connolly in Northern Virginia

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is wading into the competitive Republican primary in the 11th congressional district, endorsing Keith Fimian as the best candidate to unseat Rep. Gerry Connolly (D). Fimian is locked in an increasingly heated fight with Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity for the right to take on Connolly, who beat Fimian by 12 points to win the seat in 2008. Hoping for a rematch, Fimian has been looking to firm up his support on the right. Cuccinelli is admired by many conservative activists in the state. "Keith is staking out the same conservative positions now as he did in 2008, and his steadfast support of the Constitution is an asset we could use on Capitol Hill," Cuccinelli said in a letter that was sent out by Fimian's campaign. "And unlike Gerry Connolly, Keith has shown that he will not change his tune to win votes. He...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 12, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Ken Cuccinelli , Pat Herrity  | Tags: Gerry Connolly, Keith Fimian, Ken Cuccinelli, Northern Virginia, Republican, Virginia  
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McDonnell: Cuccinelli lawsuit won't hurt opposition to health care law

The Washington Post's David Weigel, of the Right Now blog, spoke with Bob McDonnell (R) at the meeting of Republican state chairmen today about Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's legal challege to the federal health care law. McDonnell told Weigel that Cuccinelli's lawsuit won't hurt other conservative efforts. Here is his blog post. UPDATE, 3:25 p.m.: Weigel also asked McDonnell for his thoughts on yesterday's primary defeat of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.). The 14-term incumbent was challenged over his support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and his leisurely opposition to cap-and-trade climate legislation....

By David Weigel  |  May 12, 2010; 2:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Health care, Ken Cuccinelli  
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McDonnell speaks to the nation's GOP state chairmen at National Harbor

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is serving as the keynote speaker today at the luncheon that is wrapping up three days of meetings for the nation's Republican state chairmen. Other speakers at the 2010 State Chairmen's Meeting include former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. The Republican National Committee-hosted event is taking place at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor. Virginia GOP chairman Pat Mullins and executive director Dave Rexrode have been there since Monday....

By Anita Kumar  |  May 12, 2010; 12:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Republican National Committee  
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Virginia 2nd district candidate Rigell attacked on cash for clunkers and Obama donation

UPDATE 1:27 PM: It turns out this week won't be all bad for Scott Rigell. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to endorse Rigell's campaign at a Thursday press conference, according to a report in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. McDonnell's daughter and sister have already recorded video endorsements for Rigell. ORIGINAL ITEM: It hasn't been the best Wednesday so far for Scott Rigell, as two different stories in the national media have taken shots at the apparent frontrunner in the Republican race to face Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in Virginia's 2nd district. First, USA Today took note of the ongoing debate surrounding the participation of car dealerships owned by Rigell in the federal "cash for clunkers" program. Rigell is one of four Republican car dealers around the country who are running for Congress and being attacked by conservatives for profiting from cash for clunkers, which many on the right criticized...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 12, 2010; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Scott Rigell  | Tags: Barack Obama presidential campaign 2008, Hampton Roads, Republican Party, Scott Rigell, Virginia  
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McDonnell will consider changing state law following U.Va. killing

A day after meeting with University of Virginia President John Casteen, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) vowed on Good Morning America to consider changing state law next year to help prevent murders like that of 22-year-old U.Va. lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 12, 2010; 9:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: George Huguely, George Stephanopoulos, Good Morning America, Lacrosse, University of Virginia, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell  
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McDonnell appoints Wilder's son as special assistant for re-entry education

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed former governor L. Douglas Wilder's son, Larry Wilder Jr., as special assistant on re-entry education. Wilder, a lawyer who served in the House of Delegates, has spent more than two decades developing and implementing community and economic development models. Wilder pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of simple cocaine possession in 2000 (and received probation) and mismanaging his father's gubernatorial campaign money in 2007 (and received a 12-month suspended sentence and several fines), according to records. "Larry Wilder's experience and background make him exactly the right person to help with the Governor's prisoner re-entry program,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "He has extensive government and public policy experience. He also possesses a valuable personal perspective on this issue. The Governor believes everyone deserves an opportunity, that is what his prisoner re-entry program is all about. We look forward to Larry playing a key role in...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 11, 2010; 6:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Virginia  
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Regent University names McDonnell "Alumnus of the Year"

The governor's office didn't announce this award, but Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) doesn't seem to be running away from it either. Regent University, the Virginia Beach school founded by the controversial religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, named McDonnell its "alumnus of the year." Regent announced the award during last weekend's graduation ceremony, though the governor received the award during a campus visit April 13. "Bob's dedication to serving the citizens of Virginia has been evident for years, and his election as governor is an outstanding example of Regent's motto of Christian Leadership to Change the World," Robertson said in a press release. "We're proud of all that Bob has accomplished and delighted to bestow this honor upon him." McDonnell attended the school when it was named CBN University after the Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios shared the campus. He later served on the Regent Board of Trustees for eight years and...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 11, 2010; 5:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, CBN University, Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson, Regent University  
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Kagan's stance on military recruiters at issue in Perriello contest in Virginia

It didn't take long for the debate surrounding President Obama's latest Supreme Court nominee to start trickling from the Senate down into lower-level races. On Tuesday, the campaign of state Sen. Robert Hurt, the leading Republican candidate in the contest to unseat Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in Virginia's 5th district, blasted out a release demanding to know where Perriello stands on Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the high court. Of course, Perriello isn't a member of the Senate, so he won't get to vote on Kagan's confirmation. But Hurt wants the Democrat to speak up anyway, primarily because of Kagan's controversial decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard Law School when she was the school's dean. "Solicitor General Kagan's decision to bar military recruiters from campus because she disagreed with [t]he 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy - a policy with wide bipartisan support - signals a left-wing worldview that...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 11, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  | Tags: Elena Kagan  
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Cuccinelli on Kagan: Not a fan, but lack of judicial experience not the issue

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) said today that he is not troubled by Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's lack of judicial experience. President Obama's selection of his solicitor general and the former dean of Harvard Law School for the bench has come under fire from many in the GOP because Kagan has never served as a judge. But Virginia's top lawyer said today that he doesn't see that as a prerequiste for the Supreme Court. "I'd be surprised if she weren't confirmed," Cuccinelli said in an interview this morning, "largely because the president does have an easy path to it and she is not somebody that anydody can stand up and say, 'This person does not have the credentials for the job.' I don't think that's a reasonable conclusion. The people who will say that are people who will, at this point, will really just demand that somebody having...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 11, 2010; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Elena Kagan, Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia  
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Updated: U-Va. president urges McDonnell to change law in response to lacrosse killing

University of Virginia President John T. Casteen met with Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) today to ask him to change state law so college officials would be notified if students are arrested. The meeting between the two leaders came after U-Va. lacrosse player George Huguely was charged in the death of fellow student Yeardley Love, 22, a player on U-Va.'s women's lacrosse team who was his former girlfriend. "Our concern really is that we understand that violence of even this most terrible kind does occur even in the most peaceful communities and ... that information that should be in the hands of commonwealth's attorneys and police officers, are in their hands," he said. Casteen said today that if the university had known that Huguely had been arrested in 2008 in connection with fighting a police officer, he would have been suspended, perhaps even expelled. In that case, Huguely pleaded...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 11, 2010; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, University of Virginia  
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McDonnell forms new council to examine Virginia prisoner reentry

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is putting a new emphasis on creating a comprehensive strategy for helping prisoners successfully reenter society after completing their sentences. McDonnell was joined by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, legislators and a variety of public safety, social services, corrections officials as he announced the initiative, designed to help Virginia attack a recividism rate that now stands at 29 percent. McDonnell signed an executive order establishing a Prisoner Reentry Council, headed by Decker and the state's first prisoner reentry coordinator Banci Tewolde. Membership will also include representatives of 16 government agencies. The group has been asked to come up with a blueprint for its work on July 1 and a new strategy by Dec. 31. McDonnell said the goal will be for every Virginia inmate to get a comprehensive plan for his or her return to society, with a goal of helping...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 11, 2010; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli, Prison, Virginia  
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States raise pressure on Congress to extend enhanced Medicaid spending

The National Conference of State Legislatures is again asking the U.S. Congress to extend enhanced Medicaid funding for states, given how many have adopted budgets assuming the increased federal aid would be forthcoming. Virginia lawmakers didn't exactly assume they would see the new funds. Instead, they adopted a budget that included some especially drastic cuts to health and human resources -- but then assured one another and the public that the cuts probably would not go into effect because Congress was on the verge of approving the the boosted federal aid. Lawmakers wrote into the budget a promise to use the new Medicaid dollars to erase the health-care cuts. The federal stimulus bill included boosted Medicaid spending for states lasting until Dec. 31. States have sought an extension of the increased aid for another six months -- to June 30, 2011. Almost two months later, Congress is still only on...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 11, 2010; 10:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Obama, McDonnell, grip and grin in Hampton

President Obama shaking hands with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on the tarmac at Langley Air Force Base on Sunday before delivering a commencement address at nearby Hampton University, as former Gov. Doug Wilder (D) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D) look on.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 10, 2010; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Does Krystal Ball see a future representing Virginia in Congress?

Democrats looking to unseat Rep. Rob Wittman (R) in Virginia's 1st district have picked a candidate they hope will have a bright future -- Krystal Ball. Running as "a fresh voice for Virginia," Ball has been the presumptive nominee to take on Wittman since the other Democrat in the contest, Scott Robinson, dropped out in late March. Democrats in the 1st district -- which stretches from Fauquier County south past Williamsburg to Poquoson on the Chesapeake Bay -- officially handed Ball the nomination at their local convention this weekend. "Proud to officially be Dem nominee after today's convention," Ball said on her Twitter feed Sunday. Ball, 28, runs an educational software company with her husband and has never been a candidate for political office before. For a novice, her fundraising has been prolific: As of April 18, Ball had raised $521,000 (including $76,000 in personal loans to her campaign) and...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 10, 2010; 3:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing  | Tags: Jo Ann Davis, John McCain presidential campaign 2008, Krystal Ball  
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McDonnell asks feds to allow tolls on I-95 near N.C. border

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has officially asked permission from the federal government to begin collecting tolls near the Virginia-North Carolina border on I-95, writing a letterto U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on April 20 making the request. Tolling near the border was an important piece of the transportation funding package floated by McDonnell during last year's campaign for governor. He estimates Virginia could generate $30 million to $60 million a year from tolls on the Interstate, money that could be used to maintain the state's aging road network. But the proposal illustrates an important fact about McDonnell's transportation funding plan: None of it is easy. To get tolling, McDonnell would have to secure federal approval for switching permission for tolls on I-81, where Virginia already has conditional tolling authority, to I-95 instead. In his April 20 letter, McDonnell argues the state needs revenue from the tolls to provide maintance...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 10, 2010; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Transportation  
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UPDATED: Democrats attack McDonnell's selection of Malek as government reform chairman

Del. David Englin, a Democrat from Alexandria, blasted Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for choosing longtime Republican donor and activist Fred Malek as chairman of his government reform commission, accusing him of once creating lists of Jews to track and remove from government service. "Was there really no more qualified individual in Virginia to lead this panel?,'' asked Englin, who is Jewish. "Has he done anything to disavow and make amends for his previous anti-Semitism?" In September 1988, the Washington Post reported that Malek "compiled figures in 1971 on the number of Jews among top officials of the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the direction of President Nixon, who had ordered Malek to investigate what notes taken by White House aides described as a 'Jewish cabal' at the agency." Less than two months later, two senior bureau officials who were Jewish were removed from their posts and moved to less visible...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 10, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Antisemitism, Bob McDonnell, Fred Malek, Republican  
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U-Va. "exploring options" on Cuccinelli climate change subpoena

The University of Virginia is "exploring options" in responding to the civil investigative demand issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to the University of Virginia, seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann, a university spokeswoman said this morning. Late last week, spokeswoman Carol Wood had said the school planned to comply with Cuccinelli's demand. But various academic groups have been pressuring the University of Virginia to resist the subpoena. Cuccinelli has said he is investigation whether Mann defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for his work. "Right now, our intention is to comply but we are looking at some options," Wood said this morning. She said she does not know whether the Board of Visitors has plans to discuss the issue. According to the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers act, the law under which Cuccinelli issued the subpoena, entities that receive a...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 10, 2010; 10:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  | Tags: Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia, Virginia  
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McDonnell backs O'Brien in Northern Virginia Senate primary

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has left no one guessing whom he supports in the GOP primary to select a candidate to face Democratic Sen. George Barker of Fairfax County next year. McDonnell's staff announced he would attend former senator Jay O'Brien's campaign kick-off Wednesday evening in Springfield. O'Brien, whom Barker narrowly defeated in 2007, faces Scott Martin, an assistant dean at George Mason University, who ran unsuccessfully for a Fairfax County School Board in 2003. Martin announced his candidacy March 9. McDonnell and O'Brien served together in the House of Delegates before O'Brien was elected to the Senate in 2002....

By Anita Kumar  |  May 10, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Fairfax County Virginia, Jay O'Brien, Republican Party, Virginia, Virginia House of Delegates  
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Obama at Hampton: Education can "fortify our nation"

In a Commencement address at Virginia's Hampton University this morning, President Obama spoke about the power of education--a popular topic for the occasion. Obama's speech addressed education's role not just in providing individual opportunity or improving the nation's competitiveness around the globe, but also in security the American promise of equality. He paid tribute to civil rights leader Dorothy Height, as well as escaped slaves who gathered for classes beneath an oak tree in 1861, the founders of the university. This was Obama's first commencement speech to a historically black university--a huge honor for Hampton which has not hosted a president since 1991. He addressed the achievement gap between white and black Americans and said education is the way to close it. Read the whole speech, as prepared for delivery, after the jump. Obama did make some tweak from this version distributed ahead of time as he gave the speech...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 9, 2010; 9:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Barack Obama, Commencement speech, Dorothy Height, Hampton University, Historically black colleges and universities, Virginia  
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