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Bolling: GOP legislators should withhold public opposition of ABC plan

Anita Kumar

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said in an interview that Republican legislators should stop publicly opposing Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize the state's 76-year-old liquor monopoly and instead approach the administration privately if they have concerns.

For weeks, some Republican legislators have been speaking to the media about their concerns, criticisms and outright opposition to the plan.

"It would be more helpful if they would keep their powder dry,'' Bolling said. "It's a work in progress. If they have problems, they should let us know."

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


McDonnell, Bolling and the governor's policy staff have been meeting individually with legislators to talk to them about their concerns. Legislators, Bolling said, are contacted immediately after they make unfavorable comments about the proposal in effort to shore up support and alleviate concerns.

"We're open to discussing the proposal,'' he said. "We just want an opportunity to discuss it privately."

In response to concerns from conservatives, McDonnell recently made significant changes to the proposal, eliminating a 1 percent tax on annual sales by wholesalers and a 2.5 percent fee on restaurants that choose to buy their liquor directly from wholesalers.

Del. David Albo (R-Fairfax), one of the legislators who has publicly said he supports the concept of privatization but has concerns with the details of the proposal, said his constituents expect him to have an opinion when the governor puts out a proposal.

"When you put out a proposal and get 15 e-mails from constituents you have to write them back and tell them what you think,'' Albo said. "I consider speaking to the newspaper an extension of speaking to constituents. I kept my powder dry for months, I don't know why they are getting so upset now."

By Anita Kumar  | October 8, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell  
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