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VA Conservatives: Special Session on Ethics Reform Will Spotlight McAuliffe's History of Cronyism

An editor of a prominent conservative blog in Virginia, Bearing Drift, is calling on Republicans to support Virginia Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s call for a special legislative session to deal with ethics reform. They feel such a session will further highlight Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s record of alleged cronyism. 

Norman Leahy, a Bearing Drift editor, wrote that Republicans dismissing the special session as a gimmick “are missing the politics of reform–and that the one who has the most to lose isn’t their seat mate (or themselves), but Terry McAuliffe.”

“A special session held before the election will, necessarily, draw additional attention to Terry McAuliffe,” Leahy notes, writing that McAuliffe has in just the last week “endured a series of bad stories” about GreenTech, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into possible fraud in the company’s marketing, and whether the company violated SEC law while McAuliffe was in charge. 

He continues by asserting  that, “McAuliffe can’t afford to have this investigation, on top of the lingering questions about his other past business deals, put under a special session microscope. Hence, he dismisses it as a ‘gimmick.'”

Bearing Drift started a petition to pressure Republicans to join Cuccinelli in calling for a special session. 

Cuccinelli, in an op-ed last week calling for a special session, wrote that he would look to support “a number of needed reforms” such as: 

… a cap on gifts at an amount agreed upon by the General Assembly, a new requirement for spouses and immediate family members to take part in the disclosure process, extending restrictions related to General Assembly members’ lobbyist-spouses, a mandatory 10-day reporting period for significant travel expenses provided to a state official, and the formation of an independent state ethics commission.

Cuccinelli and Virginia Republican governor Bob McDonnell accepted gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams under Virginia’s lax ethics rules, and have received a flood of bad press for doing so during the gubernatorial campaign. However, Republicans, like those at Bearing Drift, believe that a special session will remind Virginians that McAuliffe would exploit Virginia’s lax ethics laws even more egregiously, especially since McAuliffe came up with the idea during the Clinton administration of renting out the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House to donors.  

Cuccinelli conceded that he will be “the first to admit that I’ve made my own mistakes when it comes to Virginia’s disclosure requirements. Though I was fully cleared by a Democrat Commonwealth’s Attorney, I’ve learned from my mistakes and believe they make me a more credible messenger in this much-needed debate.”

He did suggest, though, that McAuliffe has a lot more to lose if a special session is called than he does. 

“I did not expect my colleagues in Richmond to jump for joy when I called on the governor to call a special session,” he wrote. “Likewise, I predicted Terry McAuliffe, now the subject of two federal investigations, would dismiss my proposal as a gimmick-which he promptly did. But now is the time for people to come forward and be part of the solution. If my opponent doesn’t want to be part of it, that’s his prerogative.”

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