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Virginia Politics Blog: October 10, 2010 - October 16, 2010

McDonnell political committee ends September with $1.28 million

Gov. Bob McDonnell's political action committee Opportunity Virginia raised $782,000 between July and the end of the September, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday. The PAC ended the third quarter of the year with $1.28 million cash on hand, a strong showing that McDonnell's political director said showed support for his administration. As a state committee, the money cannot be used to help candidates running in November's congressional campaign. However, McDonnell will be able to use the donations to help elect Republicans to the General Assembly next November, as the governor looks to wrest control of the state Senate from Democrats. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) collected just over $120,000 for his committee Liberty Now in the past three months and ends the month with $147,512 in the bank. Cuccinelli also collects money through...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 15, 2010; 6:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Bill Bolling, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate, William Howell  
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About the Bloggers -- Caitlin Gibson

Caitlin Gibson covers Loudoun County for the Washington Post. A native of the Washington area, she grew up in Montgomery County and attended the University of Maryland. In 2005 she came to The Post, where she contributed blog posts, essays, columns, feature stories and cover stories to The Post and its magazine before joining the local news staff in 2010. Past articles | E-mail Caitlin....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | October 15, 2010; 5:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Caitlin Gibson, About the Blog  
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Hurt ad calls Perriello a 'rubber stamp' for Obama, Pelosi

State Sen. Robert Hurt (R) is turning up the volume on his campaign against freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in Virginia's 5th district, accusing the Democrat of being a "rubber stamp" for the policies of President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

By Ben Pershing  | October 15, 2010; 5:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Robert Hurt, Tom Perriello  
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Va. commission releases 107 recommendations for government efficiency

Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) Commission on Government Reform has released a report outlining 107 recommendations to streamline state government, including privatizing the state's liquor stores. The commission already voted to adopt the recommendations. But Friday was the deadline for the group to put its recommendations in writing. In a letter accompanying the report, commission chairman Fred Malek writes that the group sifted through 1,700 suggestions from the public to come up with the ideas. "Our work is far from complete," he writes, promising that the commission will continue to meet through McDonnell's four year term. The group's recommendations include a proposal to increase the number of state employees who work four-day weeks, to consolidate and eliminate some state boards and commissions, to eliminate some state agency toll-free phone numbers and to shift Virginia's two-year budget cycle, so that governors write two full budgets during their four year terms. They also...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 15, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Ohio grand jury indicts U.S. Navy Veterans Association director

Have you seen this man? No, the one on the left. (Photos courtesy of Ohio Attorney General's Office) An Ohio grand jury has indicted a man who donated to Virginia political campaigns last year under the name "Bobby Thompson" on felony charges of money laundering, theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The grand jury also indicted Blanca Contreras, who helped the man run the allegedly fraudulent charity the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. Airport police Friday arrested Contreras at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, authorities reported. The indictments allege the Thompson stole more than $1 million from Ohio residents who intended their donations to help veterans. Virginia is one of nine states that have opened investigations into the charity on suspicions that it filed false documentation with state officials and may have stolen charitable contributions. Ohio Attorney Gen. Richard Cordray has alleged that the charity's...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 15, 2010; 4:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  John McCain, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Fimian raises more than $1 million for the quarter, hits Connolly in new ad

Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R) raised more than $1 million in the third quarter of 2010, putting him in strong financial position for the last weeks of his campaign to unseat Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) in Virginia's 11th congressional district.

By Ben Pershing  | October 15, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian  
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McAuliffe to campaign with former rival Moran

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be campaigning next week in Arlington with his former rival Del. Brian Moran. It's an interesting bit of fence-mending for the former Democratic National Committee chairman, whose race for the gubernatorial nomination with Moran last year got pretty nasty. (Both were defeated by state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, who then went on to lose to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) in the November general election.) McAuliffe's been traveling the state for months building support among local Democrats with a possible retry in 2013 in mind. (You can see a map of McAuliffe's travels here, on his surprisingly candidate-like personal website.)...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 15, 2010; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Brian J. Moran, Rosalind Helderman, Terry McAuliffe  
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Liquor privatization good but McDonnell plan needs work, retail federation says

The Virginia Retail Federation, which represents small and independent retailers, wants major modifications to Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to privatize state-run liquor stores but has endorsed the idea in concept. In a statement released Friday, the group indicates that its membership has agreed that replacing the state's 332 government-owned liquor shops with privately owned stores is a good idea. But the group says it will support the proposal advanced by McDonnell to accomplish the goal only if five major changes are made. For one, the group calls for increasing the number of licenses auctioned to private retailers to sell distilled spirits. McDonnell has called for 1,000 licenses. The group's request could be difficult because some legislators have said they believe 1,000 is too high already....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 15, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli "pleased" with Florida health care ruling

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) said he's "pleased" a Florida judge has ruled a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care bill can move forward. Cuccinelli has filed a separate suit against the law which is moving a bit faster through the court system. A federal judge in Virginia already gave him the same ruling in August. The Virginia suit essentially goes to trial on Monday, with the judge hearing oral arguments on Cuccinelli's motion for summary judgment in the case. Both sides have said they expect the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately determine whether the law is constitutional. In a statement, Cuccinelli said he was "especially pleased that the judge found the federal government's use of the Commerce Clause to justify the individual health insurance mandate is unprecedented in American history."...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 14, 2010; 6:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Va. slips to number 2 state for business in Forbes Magazine ranking

Utah has beat out Virginia on Forbes Magazine's list of the best states for business, knocking the commonwealth out of the top ranking it has held for the past four years. The magazine said Virginia, which it ranked number 2 for business in the country, "still boasts a very favorable business climate, with an educated labor supply and solid economic growth." But it said labor and energy costs have "crept up," which allowed Utah to win the top ranking. It is the first time Virginia hasn't topped the rankings since the magazine started awarding them five years ago....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 14, 2010; 5:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli calls for environmental, economic balance at energy conference

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) told several hundred attendees of a conference on energy production in Richmond that government regulation of greenhouse gases would give businesses two choices: "Move or die." Cuccinelli, one of Virginia's most vocal critics of Democrats in Washington, used remarks at Gov. Bob McDonnell's Conference on Energy to offer a scathing rebuke of President Obama's energy policy. He said regulating emissions -- either through action by the Environmental Protection Agency or through a bill before the U.S. Senate that would impose an emissions cap and then allow companies to trade pollution credits -- would cost thousands of jobs and raise energy costs for businesses and households. Businesses would be forced to shutter or move overseas, he said. Cuccinelli is suing the EPA over its finding that it can regulate emissions because they cause harmful global warming. He said he's heard "very little articulatable benefit from...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 14, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Bill Bolling, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell for president?

CNBC's Larry Kudlow encouraged Bob McDonnell to run for president in 2012 on an appearance Wednesday night, but Virginia governor's just smiled and laughed. "I've got three-and-half more years as Virginia governor through 2013 and I plan to be here," he said. "I've got so much on my plate right now. I call it a decent start but I've got a lot to accomplish in Virginia. Thanks for the plug." McDonnell, who sits on the executive committee of the Republican Governors Association and has been fundraising for GOP candidates nationwide, told Kudlow that several Republican governors will be running in 2012. McDonnell was appearing on the Kudlow Report to talk about how Virginia balanced its budget without raising taxes, the subject of his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. He will appear on FOX News this afternoon. See the clip:...

By Anita Kumar  | October 14, 2010; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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National Democrats not giving up on Reps. Perriello, Nye, Kratovil

National Democrats are still pouring money into the reelection bids of freshman Reps. Frank Kratovil (Md.), Tom Perriello (Va.) and Glenn Nye (Va.), even as the party has largely given up on several other candidates facing similarly tough races across the country.

By Ben Pershing  | October 14, 2010; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Glenn Nye, John McCain, Polls, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Tom Perriello  
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Rift between McDonnell and House GOP doesn't exist, Speaker says

Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell said in an interview that a handful of Republican delegates who have publicly complained about testy relations with Gov. Bob McDonnell's staff do not represent his entire caucus. (Read today's story on delegates' comments.) "That doesn't represent the vast majority of the people in the caucus,'' said Howell (R-Stafford).

By Anita Kumar  | October 14, 2010; 10:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation, William Howell  
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Va. tax revenues up 4.1 percent last month over one year ago

Tax revenues continued to slowly grow in September, state officials said Wednesday, a sign that the state's economy is perking up after the deep economic downturn. Collections grew by 4.1 percent in September 2010, compared to September a year ago, making September the sixth out of the last seven months in which revenue grew this year over last. State officials said withholding taxes grew 6.8 percent over last year's numbers, while corporate income tax grew 13.8 percent. Sales taxes grew at a more modest 2.1 percent. Adjusting for the accelerated sales tax program in June, total state revenues through September have grown 3.6 percent for the year, trailing projections of 4.2 percent. In a statement, McDonnell said the revenue contained good news about the state's economy. "The growth in revenue derived from withholding, corporate income and sales taxes is good news for the Commonwealth," he said in a statement. "It...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 13, 2010; 6:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli joins multistate investigation of mortgage lenders

Washignton Post staff writers Ariana Eunjung Cha and Dina Elboghdady are reporting that attorneys general all 50 U.S. states announced Wednesday that they are joining to probe mortgage loan servicers who are accused of submitting false affidavits, but they stopped short of calling for a national moratorium. In a statement, Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) said of the investigation: "Obviously, this issue affects peoples' homes as well as the economy This probe will be thorough, expeditious, and fair to both homeowners and lenders."...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 13, 2010; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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McDonnell advisor calls House leaders spineless on liquor privatization

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his staff are growing more frustrated that members of their own party in the Republican-led House are not standing behind the governor's signature plan to privatize the state's 76-year-old state liquor mnonopoly. It reached a boiling point when during a phone conversation between Phil Cox, senior adviser to Gov. Bob McDonnell, called and Del. Tim Hugo, chairman of House Republican Caucus, two weeks ago in which Cox accused the House leadership of being "spineless,'' according to several sources familar with the call. Cox told Hugo that McDonnell was a popular governor who could raise millions of dollars and threatened to elect new delegates next year if they did not support his plan, the sources said. All 100 seats in the House are on next year's ballot. Hugo responded with a Sept. 30 email to Cox; Martin Kent, McDonnell's chief of staff; Eric Finkbeiner, McDonnell's director...

By Anita Kumar  | October 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Hurt outraises Perriello, but Democrat has cash edge

Virginia state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) outraised Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in the third quarter of the year, but the incumbent has more cash to spend in the frenzied three weeks before Election Day.

By Ben Pershing  | October 13, 2010; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Robert Hurt, Tom Perriello  
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Moran on DPVA chairmanship: 'I am interested'

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Alexandria delegate Brian Moran confirms Wednesday morning that he's interested in succeeding Richard Cranwell as chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. In an interview, Moran said he will seek the chairmanship when the Democratic State Central Committee meets Dec. 3. Cranwell announced Tuesday that he will step down after leading the party for five years. "I believe it would be an opportunity to serve Virginia and the Democratic Party," said Moran, who now works for the Career College Association. But Moran was cagey on the topic. For instance, have Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Gov. Tim Kaine (D) been working to secure the job for him? "I would welcome their support. I think they've served Virginia extremely well," is all Moran would say. "Right now we're concentrating on Nov. 2. We need to spend time on Nov. 2."...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 13, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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State GOP will vote on Cuccinelli's proposal for higher filing fees at state conventions

The Republican Party of Virginia's governing board will decide in December whether to adopt Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's proposal to dramatically raise filing fees for statewide candidates seeking the party's nomination at political conventions. Last month, Cuccinelli called for candidates for governor to pay up to $50,000 and candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general up to $25,000 to secure a spot at the party's nominating convention. He also wanted delegates to be charged for attending the convention. Dave Rexrode, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, said members of the Republican State Central Committee will vote on whether candidates for statewide office, including U.S. Senate, will pay fees of up to $25,000 and convention delegates will begin paying a mandatory fee. Mike Thomas, the party's first vice chairman, wrote the State Central Committee in an email that the committee reviewing the party platform wants to limit the amount...

By Anita Kumar  | October 13, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Ken Cuccinelli  
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Retiring Democratic Party chair reflects on political cycles

Retiring Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Richard Cranwell said Tuesday that he's seen high moments as chairman of the state party -- and acknowledged that there have been setbacks. He called last year's statewide elections, in which Bob McDonnell (R) won back the governor's mansion from Democrats by more than 17 points, a "little punch in the snout." But in an interview, Cranwell said he believes the Democratic Party's staff and organizational infrastructure are strong and he feels comfortable stepping down after five years at the party's helm. "There are political cycles, and I understand they come and go," he said. "The important thing is that I really think the group of young people working for us now are as competent and talented as any in the country. I'm comfortable we're in good shape." Cranwell said he decided to step down now to spend more time with his children, who...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 12, 2010; 6:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Cranwell resigns as Virginia Democratic party chairman

C. Richard Cranwell will resign as chairman of Democratic Party of Virginia on Dec. 3 after serving five years. Cranwell, a 30-year fixture in the House of Delegates, made the announcement Tuesday because the party plan calls for 30-day notice before an election is held. The party will hold an election at its Newport News meeting Dec. 3 after the midterm elections. "He's been a good chairman,'' Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw said. "He's a good image for our party -- he's very articulate and very very bright and very good on his feet." Possible successors already being talked about are Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) and former Del. Brian Moran, who ran for governor in 2009. "Some good Virginia Democrats have approached me and encouraged me to run for the chairmanship,'' McEachin said. "I am honored by their confidence in me, but this is not an idea I have...

By Anita Kumar  | October 12, 2010; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Brian J. Moran, James Webb, Mark Warner  
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Griffith responds to campaign criticism with legislative illegal immigration study

The Virginia legislature's audits and investigations arm will conduct a study of the procedures used by state agencies to ensure their contractors don't hire illegal immigrants. Lawmakers adopted a resolution Tuesday asking the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to look into the issue, after an independent candidate for Congress accused a Virginia Department of Transportation contractor of hiring undocumented workers. The candidate, Jeremiah Heaton, had accused his Republican opponent, House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (Salem), of failing to ensure that VDOT's contractors hire only legal immigrants. Heaton and Griffith are both challenging Rep. Rick Boucher (D). JLARC's investigation comes at the urging of Griffith, who sits on the commission. "Obviously, I don't know if it's true," Griffith said. "But a person brought up a concern. He felt like they were illegal. Whether it's legitimate or not, it's something we ought to do."...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 12, 2010; 2:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Immigration, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell to push for increased higher education funding in 2011

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) recommitted himself Tuesday to a campaign goal of awarding 100,000 new college degrees in Virginia over the next 15 years, saying that Virginia must make a financial "down payment" on the goal in 2011, despite the state's difficult budget outlook. Speaking at a meeting of his Higher Education Commission, McDonnell said he would ask the General Assembly to adopt the panel's recommendations for restructuring the state's funding formula for colleges and universities during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 12. The goal would be to provide a more stable and predictable funding stream for state schools, which have raised tuition dramatically in recent years as state aid has dipped. Colleges and universities and their students would be provided financial incentives to fulfill key state higher education goals, including graduating more students in four years and awarding more degrees in high-demand science and technology fields. In...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 12, 2010; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell, Christie will hit campaign trail for Republicans

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday praised his New Jersey counterpart, Chris Christie, who won the Virginia Tea Party Patriots presidential straw poll this weekend, as someone who has taken on some "entrenched special interests." Christie, who has said he has no interest in running for president in 2012, has emerged as a favorite of Republicans -- and apparently some tea partiers -- for his take-no-prisoners attitude in the Garden State. "Chris Christie is a very good governor,'' McDonnell said on his monthly radio show Tuesday on WNIS. "We're kind of the beginning of the wave. We both won independent voters. We both had a 24, 25 swing from President Obama the year before. We kind of showed something was going on in the country. And Chris has take on some entrenched special interests and deficits left by his predecessor." McDonnell and Christie and were the only statewide candidates elected...

By Anita Kumar  | October 12, 2010; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Marshall backed Ron Paul for president, Pr. William delegate says

Prince William Del. Bob Marshall (R) voted for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) in the 2008 presidential primary.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 11, 2010; 3:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  George F. Allen, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Stewart asks tea parties to support immigration bill

Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, has been visiting tea parties across Virginia to drum up support for his campaign for legislation that would force the state's officials to crack down on illegal immigration.

By Anita Kumar  | October 11, 2010; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Corey Stewart, Immigration, Prince William  
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Updated: Va. falling behind on renewable energy, Sierra Club says

On the eve of a conference on energy production to be hosted by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), the Sierra Club charges that Virginia is falling behind other mid-Atlantic states in luring alternative energy jobs, including solar and wind power manufacturing. The group says McDonnell has shown a "failure of leadership" as he has touted his desire to see Virginia become the "energy capital of the East Coast" because he's opposed a mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard, which would require a certain percentage of energy production to come from renewable sources. Virginia has a voluntary goal in place, which McDonnell supported. They say McDonnell has continued to make a major push to expand offshore oil drilling but has not appointed members of a new Virginia Offshore Wind Authority. Read the Sierra Club report here. Update, 12:30 p.m.: McDonnell's office responds. "The Sierra Club has willfully chosen to ignore this administration's positive...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 11, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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