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McDonnell advisor calls House leaders spineless on liquor privatization

Anita Kumar

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 of policy; and Mike Reynold, McDonnell's deputy director of policy.

"First, I appreciate the Administration candidly voicing their concerns about the "weak leadership" in the House and requesting that the House members "get some backbone," he wrote. "As GOP Caucus Chairman, I have conveyed the Administration's "weak leadership" concerns directly to the other leadership members and will inform the Caucus members of the Administration's request regarding spinal generation.

"Lastly, I will also issue a cautionary note to the Caucus reminding them that next year the Administration will "remember their friends" during the election season."

Cox said in an interview that he did not recall the email and that he has conversations with legislators every day and would not comment on them in the media. "Why should I share private conversations with the media?'' he asked.

Hugo and G. Paul Nardo, chief of staff to House Speaker Bill Howell, declined to comment. "The conservations I have with the governor's staff are private,'' Hugo said.

McDonnell (R) unveiled his proposal a month ago to privatize sales of distilled spirits from wholesale to distribution to retail as a way to provide a one-time windfall of at least $458 million for transportation.

But in recent weeks, a number of Republicans in the House have come out publicly against the proposal for a variety of reasons: too many stores, not enough money sent back to the state, fears about tax increases.

Last week, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said in an interview that Republican legislators should stop publicly opposing the plan and instead approach the administration privately if they have concerns.

By Anita Kumar  | October 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Comments

McDonnell is a chump... he's planning on selling things off to his buddy' for chump change.. and leaving virginia screwed for the rest of it's exsistence.

Posted by: newagent99 | October 13, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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