Va. Democratic Party presses concerns about Malek
The Democratic Party of Virginia Monday organized a call with reporters to, in the words of executive director David Mills, was "make the party's position clear, the Democratic position clear" on Fred Malek, chairman of Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) government reform commission.
Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria) and Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) told reporters they believe that Malek, a national Republican donor and activist heading McDonnell's panel to simplify government, has not adequately apologized for his actions as an aide to President Richard Nixon in 1971. Yes, he's repeatedly apologized for compiling a list of employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics whom he believed were Jewish, at Nixon's request. But documents released in recent years show Malek was also involved with demoting and transferring some of those employees, something Malek specifically denied in a 1988 interview.
"I think if he was willing to admit the full extent of what he did, the full extent of his role in zealously purging Jews from government, the full extent of what he did as laid plain by the newly released evidence, if he would admit that and apologize for that, then I think we could all move on," Englin said. "But he's yet to do that."
But is this really the "Democratic position" on the issue? After all, Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax), the party's highest ranking elected official, has said he is satisfied by Malek's apologies and said people who aren't need to "get over it."
McDonnell named three legislative Democrats to the panel. None have called for Malek to step down nor did any raise concerns about his conduct publicly during the commission's first meeting last week.
Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), the Democrats' senate caucus leader, said this morning that she is indeed troubled by Malek--she referred to a "cumulative effect" of concern regarding McDonnell on civil rights, mentioning his decision not to issue an executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the state workforce and his proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month.
But she said she continues to believe McDonnell should be given "deference" when it comes to naming members of such groups. And while she had said before the meeting that she would make a glancing reference to Malek's past when the group convened--asking him to publicly confirm that the commission would be examining only government structure and not personnel--she said there "did not seem any opportunity to do that at any appropriate moment" last week.
She said she had read the materials distributed in advance and felt already comfortable the commission will not examine personnel.
Mills said this morning that he does not "begrudge" Democrats on the commission their service. "It's certainly not my role or the chairman's role to tell an individual office holder what they should or should not do. We're simply raising a concern, that we feel is shared by an enormous number of Virginians and certainly a large number of Virginia Democrats about the chairman of this commission," Mill said.
Specifically, Englin and McEachin said if Malek won't resign as head of the commission, then McDonnell should issue a written assurance the commission will not deal with personnel, will not delve into the Virginia Retirement System (given Malek's civil fine related to 1998 work with the Connecticut pension fund) and McDonnell should indicate that he has now been fully briefed on Malek's past.
But we're betting that with complaints largely limited to a few legislators who have now been raising concerns with Malek for several weeks--Englin, McEachin and a few others--bolstered national political groups like the Democratic National Committee and the National Democratic Jewish Council, then the governor will continue to dismiss them as the gripes of a small handful of partisans.
June 7, 2010; 11:19 AM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate
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