Thursday, September 25, 2014

Video: Governor McAuliffe announces Ethics Commission

On September 25, 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the formation and membership of his Ethics Commission. This is video of his press conference.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Tredegar Green Amphitheater is almost ready

With just a bit more than a month to go before the 2014 Richmond Folk Festival, the Tredegar Green Amphitheater is nearly ready. The landscaping, installation of irrigation, and laying of sod are complete. With forty days until the festival, the only question is whether the sod will be in good enough shape to support the massive foot traffic expected. Considering all the moaning and groaning by the usual suspects, the project seems to have had very little impact on its location.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Porter Cup rugby tournament in Richmond this weekend

This weekend the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center at 2401 West Leigh Street in Richmond, Virginia will host a very different kind of athletic event: the 50th annual Porter Cup rugby tournament.
The Porter Cup, a rugby tournament hosted by the Richmond Rugby Foundation, is celebrating its 50th year in 2014. The Richmond Lions and James River are happy to be representing RVA against Norfolk, Charlotte, Roanoke, & the DC Renegades- teams which have tasted recent success on the USA Rugby national stage. We welcome all of RVA out to watch great rugby and to cheer your home clubs on! Net proceeds will be donated to the area's 2 Youth Rugby clubs (Hanover Rhinos & Richmond Lions Youth).
You can find a schedule of the matches here along with more information about the tournament at this link.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Dave Brat brings in Allen West's campaign manager!

In a simply mind-boggling development, the Republican candidate for Virginia's 7th Congressional District this year simultaneously tried to deny he is part of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party AND hired the former campaign manager for Allen B. West, one of the most notorious and vicious members of the Tea Party! West is one of the most outspoken, controversial, and extreme members of the Tea Party, and Dave Brat has allied himself with one of West's chief advisors.

I can't wait to see Allen B. West come to Virginia to campaign for Dave Brat!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What if we've been looking at the Puckett scandal backwards?

What if we've been looking at the Phil Puckett scandal backwards?

From the moment that Virginia State Senator Phil Puckett resigned on June 9, 2014, many commentators--myself among them--have raised the question of whether the GOP leadership in Virginia's General Assembly conspired to bribe Puckett with a judgeship for his daughter and a job for Puckett at the Tobacco Commission with a six-figure salary.

If that is how we understand the transaction between Puckett and the General Assembly Republicans, then we face a hurdle in prosecuting them: was Puckett's resignation an "official act"? In "Va. officials skeptical of U.S. interest in Phillip Puckett’s resignation from state Senate" by Laura Vozzella, Matt Zapotosky, and Jenna Portnoy, these three Washington Post writers describe the obstacle prosecutors face in looking for an "official act."
Even so, legal experts said building a public corruption case against Puckett or Kilgore could be an uphill climb.

In 2010, the Supreme Court decided that the government could not prosecute legislators or government officials for what is known as “honest services fraud” simply because they participated in a self-dealing, conflict-of-interest arrangement.

Prosecutors had to prove that the officials took bribes or kickbacks as part of a quid pro quo, the court decided. Proving that quid pro quo requires prosecutors to show that the public official made or promised to make “official acts” in exchange for the bribes or kickbacks.

The question for Puckett and Kilgore and those investigating the arrangement, experts said, is this: Is resigning one’s office an “official act”?

“It’s a stretch, because I think it’s more of an abdication than an act,” said Andrew T. Wise, a defense lawyer at Miller & Chevalier who represented a lobbyist connected to Jack Abramoff. “I would hate to be the line prosecutor trying to sell this to my supervisor.”
You can read the rest of "Va. officials skeptical of U.S. interest in Phillip Puckett’s resignation from state Senate" at The Washington Post.

But what if we've been looking at the transaction between Puckett and the General Assembly Republicans completely backwards? What if Puckett's resignation was the bribe and Puckett's daughter's judgeship and Puckett's Tobacco Commission job offer were the "official acts"?

Seen in this light, Puckett was the briber, not the "bribee." The General Assembly Republicans didn't try to bribe Puckett, instead they accepted a bribe from Puckett in exchange for the official acts of getting Puckett's daughter a judicial appointment and giving him a well-paid job at the Tobacco Commission, both of which are emphatically "official acts."

It makes little difference in terms of the penalties involved: accepting a bribe is just as illegal as offering a bribe. The difference it makes is in prosecuting the case. If Phil Puckett is cast in the role of briber and Terry Kilgore and the other Republican legislators involved are then shown to have provided "official acts" in exchange for Puckett's bribe, then the prosecution is much more likely to prevail.