Updated: McDonnell remakes Virginia Board of Elections
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed former Florida elections chief Donald Palmer as Secretary of the State Board of Elections on Friday, replacing Nancy Rodrigues, whose term expires Tuesday.
Palmer was director of elections with the Florida Department of State, where he helped supervise the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 mid-term elections.
Prior to that job, Palmer served as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, where he enforced the federal voting laws and provided guidance to states on compliance with the civil rights laws. He also worked for former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) who lost his election in 2008 after his Democratic opponent played up his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
McDonnell also named Charles E. Judd, former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, and Kimberly T. Bowers, who formerly worked for Gov. Tim Kaine (D), to the three-member board.
The appointments already have led to criticism from Democrats.
"If Bob McDonnell ever had an interest in nonpartisan handling of elections, it's safe to say it ended when he chose a former executive director of the Republican Party and a former adviser to a Republican congressman who had questionable ties to Jack Abramoff to run the State Board of Elections,'' said Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Updated, 5:35 p.m.: McDonnell's office responds with a statement from spokesman Jeff Caldwell:
"There are absolutely no ties between Don Palmer and Jack Abramoff. Mr. Palmer was honorably serving his country from 1998-2004 as a senior defense counsel and claims division officer overseas at the time of any Abramoff trips involving Congressman Feeney.
Any allusions to ties with Jack Abramoff are completely unfounded and are clearly partisan attacks meant to besmirch his stellar reputation. Mr. Palmer has never met nor talked to Jack Abramoff. He took a job as a junior-level legislative assistant with Congressman Feeney in 2005 for eight months after he returned from overseas duty. This was a full two years after the trips that tie Congressman Feeney to Jack Abramoff, and a year after the investigation into the Abramoff activities began.
Simply because he worked for someone who was tied to this investigation does not detract from Mr. Palmer's national reputation and leadership as an election agency making elections more accessible for voters."
| January 28, 2011; 3:53 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell
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Posted by: muawiyah | January 29, 2011 8:25 PM | Report abuse