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Virginia Politics Blog: December 19, 2010 - December 25, 2010

Virginia's first family heads home for the holidays

Gov. Bob McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell will head back to the family's homestead outside Richmond for much of the long Christmas holiday weekend. Yes, the family still owns the house. Remember the governor voted in that Glen Allen neighborhood on Election Day despite moving to the historic Executive Mansion in January? All five of the McDonnells's children will be in town -- Jeanine, Cailin, Rachel, Bobby and Sean -- and one of the first lady's sisters. The McDonnell clan will help serve Christmas Eve lunch Friday at the Healing Place, a Richmond nonprofit that provides shelter for the homeless and long-term residential recovery programs for the chemically dependent. It's the second Christmas in a row the McDonnells have served food at the Healing Place. They'll be on their own for Christmas Day. The mansion staff, including the chef, are taking a day off....

By Anita Kumar  | December 24, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell to hire Hammond for policy shop

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to announce that he has hired Julia Hammond, Virginia state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, to join his policy shop, sources close to the governor tell us. McDonnell's director of policy, Eric Finkbeiner, announced the news to the rest of the policy staff Wednesday. Hammond attended the staff's holiday lunch. Hammond replaces Matt Bruning, special assistant for legislative affairs, who left last month to become the director of government relations at the Virginia Bankers Association. Hammond has worked for several Republicans, including Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, Del. David Albo (Fairfax) and state Sen. John Chichester (Northumberland). McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to comment Thursday, but we hear an announcement will be coming out as soon as next week....

By Anita Kumar  | December 23, 2010; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Jim Moran and wife LuAnn Bennett separate after six years of marriage

A Northern Virginia power couple will be one no longer. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) and businesswoman LuAnn Bennett are separating after six years of marriage, the lawmaker's office announced Thursday.

By Ben Pershing  | December 23, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, James P. Moran Jr.  
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Special elections to keep candidates busy over holidays

Candidates in Jan. 11 special elections for the House of Delegates and state Senate will keep busy over an otherwise quiet holiday break.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 23, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  George F. Allen, Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt, Rosalind Helderman  
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Va. to preserve site of slave burials in Richmond

Virginia will preserve a Richmond burial ground that holds the graves of slaves and free blacks from the 18th and 19th centuries in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War next year. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Wednesday afternoon that he is proposing that the state purchase a 2.5-acre parcel owned by Virginia Commonwealth University, now used as a parking lot, and donate it to the city of Richmond. The city will eventually remove the asphalt and install historical markers to create a walking museum in the area of Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, where slaves were brought to the city, housed in what is known as Lumpkin's Jail and buried. "As Virginia and Richmond seek next year to preserve history.... to promote racial reconciliation in our community, this transaction that will now allow Lumpkin's Jail and this old cemetery to be made open to...

By Anita Kumar  | December 22, 2010; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell to propose site of slave burials be donated to Richmond

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to announce at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the state will give the city of Richmond land that holds the graves of slaves and free blacks from the 18th and 19th centuries. Virginia Commonwealth University bought the land for a parking lot in 2008 but agreed to use some for a public memorial. But an anthropologist at the College of William & Mary, along with many residents, argue that the graves extend beyond the strip that the university donated. The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project and the Defenders called McDonnell's decision a victory and again asked that the parking lot be closed. "We call on Gov. McDonnell to make a firm commitment that any memorialization of this site will be carried out in full consultation and cooperation with the black community as a whole,'' the group said in a statement....

By Anita Kumar  | December 22, 2010; 2:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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2 indicted in Arlington election-fraud case

Two people working on the failed petition to change the form of Arlington County government this summer were indicted Monday for one count each of election fraud, said Andrew R. Parker, assistant commonwealth's attorney. Cheryl Simmons and William Cockerham were indicted by an Arlington grand jury for voter fraud and a false statement on a required form, respectively, according to court documents. Both charges are felonies. The change of government petition was trying to remove the current management powers of Arlington's county manager and place those responsibilities with the county board. The measure needed 14,350 signatures to get on the ballot. Linda Lindberg, general registrar of Arlington County, rejected some 2,200 signatures that were signed off by Simmons in July after Lindberg learned Simmons was a felon. She was convicted of embezzlement. The group opposed to the petition, the Coalition for Arlington Good Government, called several petition pages "suspicious"...

By Christy Goodman  | December 21, 2010; 7:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Connolly: Contractor cuts in NoVa to be much smaller than previously feared

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) said today that Defense Secretary Robert Gates's proposed cuts to contractor spending will be less dramatic than previously feared, likely amounting to $400 to $430 million a year. Gates in August announced plans to trim spending on contractors providing support by 10 percent annually for the next three years. He generated outcries from local officials and industry groups, who worried that the cuts would particularly impact the D.C. region, known as a hub for service contracting. Area companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, Science Applications International Corp. and ManTech International are among the largest providing a range of services -- including administrative and information technology help -- to the military. But without specific information from the Defense Department, these groups were unable to pinpoint how painful the cuts might be. In a statement, Connolly said he, along with other Northern Virginia members of Congress,...

By Marjorie Censer  | December 21, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly  
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Governor's committee finds Virginia health care 'mediocre'

An committee advising Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on issues surrounding health reform concludes that health care delivery in Virginia is currently only "mediocre" and lags other states with much lower income levels.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 21, 2010; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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ACLU threatens to sue over Marshall's bill banning gays from Va. National Guard

The ACLU of Virginia threatened Tuesday to file suit if Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William)'s proposed bill banning gays from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard becomes law next year.

By Anita Kumar  | December 21, 2010; 4:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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New poll shows solid approval rating for McDonnell but not Obama

A new poll from Roanoke College shows that Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)'s approval rating in Virginia is almost 20 points higher than President Obama's. But he same poll of 601 Virginians interviewed from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 shows considerable ambivalence about one of McDonnell's leading policy proposals--to sell off state-run liquor stores.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 21, 2010; 2:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Moran's BRAC-133 parking plan trimmed

Christy Goodman reports on the Dr. Gridlock blog that the Secretary of the Army is required to submit transportation plans and identify funding for traffic improvements surrounding the new Washington Headquarters Service building at Mark Center in Alexandria.

By Washington Post Editors  | December 21, 2010; 2:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman, James P. Moran Jr.  
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Marshall said he worries about interactions between gays, straight troops in military

Del. Bob Marshall said on WUSA on Monday night that he is proposing a bill to ban gays from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard because he is worried about service members catching sexually transmitted diseases from gay troops.

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 21, 2010; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Rep. Gerry Connolly on government workers under political fire

More and more, when politicians talk about government employees -- whether they are federal, state or local -- it is with the kind of umbrage ordinarily aimed at Wall Street financiers and convenience store bandits. The Federal Eye and colleague Karen Tumulty write in Tuesday's Washington Post about the growing backlash against public sector employees -- an issue of special interest in the Washington area, which is home to about 600,000 federal workers. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) represents about 56,000 of them who live in Northern Virginia. The Federal Eye spoke with him last week about the growing public sector backlash. A transcript -- edited for space -- appears below: Continue reading at The Federal Eye >>...

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 21, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly  
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McDonnell: Va. National Guard should follow 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said through a spokesman late Monday that he opposes Congress's repeal of the "don't ask don't tell" policy but expects to allow gays to openly serve in the Virginia National Guard.

By Anita Kumar  | December 20, 2010; 5:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Mortgage company to pay fine for illegal fees, Cuccinelli says

A mortgage modification company that had been illegally charging customers fees before providing emergency foreclosure help has agreed to refund customers and pay a $5,000 fine, Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) said.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 20, 2010; 4:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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McDonnell tells FOX Business his proposal will help shore up state pension system

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told Fox Business Network on Monday that his plan to have state employees begin making annual five percent contributions to the state's retirement fund will not fix the pension problem, but it will help shore up the state's troubled system.

By Anita Kumar  | December 20, 2010; 2:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Marshall seeks to ban gays from Virginia National Guard

Va. Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince WIlliam) said he is drafting a bill for the 2011 legislative session that would ban them from serving in the Virginia National Guard.

By Anita Kumar  | December 20, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (152)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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