McDonnells Convicted
September 4, 2014 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been found guilty of 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, and extortion, for receiving $177,000 in gifts from dietary supplement executive Johnny Williams. The governor's wife Maureen McDonnell was convicted on eight counts of corruption and an additional count of obstructing a grand jury investigation.
Mr. McDonnell, who carried his wife over the threshold of the Executive Mansion the day of his inauguration, portrayed her in his testimony as a harridan whose yelling left him “spiritually and mentally exhausted,” and who was so cold that after he sent her an email pleading to save their marriage, she did not reply. ... The government dismissed the defense strategy of portraying the McDonnell marriage as broken, and Ms. McDonnell as a “nutbag” who was smitten with Mr. Williams. The former governor was trying to “throw his wife under the bus,” the prosecutor, Michael S. Dry, said in closing statements.
McDonnell and his wife each face jail sentences of up to 20 years for each corruption offense.
posted by Ben Trismegistus (96 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is my happy face
posted by slater at 12:45 PM on September 4, 2014 [31 favorites]


Cannot wait to use the term "harridan" in pleasant company.

Also, they must be pretty short-sighted and dumb, not knowing they can make a lot more money shaking companies down for lobbying **after** serving in office. A lot more money for a lot less exposure.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:48 PM on September 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you're a Virginia politician and you haven't committed a crime, you're doing it wrong.
posted by selfnoise at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Help, help, I'm drowning in schadenfreude!
posted by The Confessor at 12:50 PM on September 4, 2014 [23 favorites]


Oh, they so richly deserve whatever is coming to them. Extra gravy that he showed his craven cowardice so baldly by trying the defense he did. Ugh. Take a look at the backward evil shit he did in office if you want to enjoy the schadenfreude more.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:51 PM on September 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Indeed. I took a certain amount of glee in listening to the recaps on the radio each day. The "my wife's a crazy bitch" defense is so seldom effective.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Harridan is a wonderful word and I'm glad he used it in his defense. Rot in prison, twerp!
posted by ReeMonster at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


left him “spiritually and mentally exhausted,”

Can't skip your vitamins.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:53 PM on September 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Way to go and make Terry McAuliffe look like an upstanding citizen, dumbass.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:55 PM on September 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


He's a white, male former Governor of Virginia. You think he's going to jail? This is America, fergawdsakes. He will probably get a nominal fine and be forced to do community service or something.
posted by Chuffy at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maybe they'll take a page from Illinois?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I admit to laughing when I heard the verdicts. I admit to laughing even harder when they said Bob McDonnell started crying. This is a pretty good day in Virginia.

I also love that this was about things totaling about $165,000. I mean, if you're going to be corrupt, at least go for the big bucks. What terrible, petty people.
posted by darksong at 12:57 PM on September 4, 2014 [21 favorites]


Ooh! Now do Rick Perry!
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:58 PM on September 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Chuffy, it's a Federal court. They are generally not shy about putting politicians in jail for corruption, and in fact sentencing guidelines mean they will serve at least some time.
posted by tavella at 12:58 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I told people not to vote for that asshole.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:58 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Rod Blagojevich, meet your new roommate.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:59 PM on September 4, 2014


Don't touch his hair stuff, or he'll shank you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:02 PM on September 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Way to go and make Terry McAuliffe look like an upstanding citizen, dumbass.

Terry McAuliffe is an upstanding citizen, by comparison. McDonnell took great pride in portraying me and my liberal friends as errant and unprincipled. Fuck his unethical ass. May he rot.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:02 PM on September 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


He's a white, male former Governor of Virginia. You think he's going to jail? This is America, fergawdsakes. He will probably get a nominal fine and be forced to do community service or something.
Having had a quick peek at the sentencing guidelines, I think the minimum possible sentence will include at least a short stint in prison. Couldn't happen to a more deserving person.
posted by Lame_username at 1:02 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, after a brief stint in the clink, he'll have a lucrative career as a Fox News consultant.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:03 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Help, help, I'm drowning in schadenfreude!

Metafilter means never misspelling schadenfreude.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


This just proves that Fox needs to work that much harder to usurp the liberal establishment.
posted by COD at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2014


He's a white, male former Governor of Virginia. You think he's going to jail? This is America, fergawdsakes. He will probably get a nominal fine and be forced to do community service or something.

Dan Rostenkowski, former House chairman of the most powerful committee -- Ways and Means -- was convicted of corruption, sentenced, and served 17 months, 2 of those at a halfway house.

Bill Clinton later pardoned him.
posted by shivohum at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter means never misspelling schadenfreude

Except it's a noun, so should be capitalized! Schadenfreude!
posted by slater at 1:08 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Bill Clinton also pardoned Fife Symington.
posted by djeo at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Especially ironic in that the big issue during McDonnell's election campaign was his 1989 Master's Thesis (pdf link) on the Republican vision for the American family, which was mainly about attacking strong, non-submissive (or even working) women as detrimental to that family. Guess he was kind of hoist on that petard himself a bit there in the end...

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I voted for McDonnell for governor. I did so because his opponent, Creigh Deeds, ran such a useless, pathetic excuse for a campaign. That stupid thesis seemed to be literally the only thing he had, as if it made McDonnell unelectable, QED, and no other policy stance was even necessary. Deeds was so weak a candidate that a McDonnell victory was clearly inevitable as election day neared. At that point I decided the best thing I could do was to help make it as huge and lopsided a victory as possible in hopes that it would wake up the Democratic party and encourage them to get off their collective ass and find or grow some better candidates.
posted by Naberius at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


He's a white, male former Governor of Virginia. You think he's going to jail? This is America, fergawdsakes. He will probably get a nominal fine and be forced to do community service or something.

Actually, going to prison is kind of a thing American governors (and former governors) do. Lots of (mostly white, male) governors have been to prison. Since the turn of the century, we have:

  • Don Seigelman (Alabama)
  • John G. Rowland (Connecticut)
  • Rod Blagojevich (Illinois)
  • George H. Ryan (Illinois)
  • Edwin Edwards (Louisiana)

  • posted by mr_roboto at 1:15 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


    He's a white, male former Governor of Virginia. You think he's going to jail?

    Hey, who knows? I didn't think he would ever face charges until the day he was indicted.

    What's the soonest he can get out of prison with this kind of verdict? January 21st, 2017?
    posted by indubitable at 1:18 PM on September 4, 2014


    *happy dances and claps along to Pharrell's beat*
    posted by bearwife at 1:19 PM on September 4, 2014


    As a Virginian let me say: bless his heart.
    posted by introp at 1:21 PM on September 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


    Those pictures of him in the white Corvette with a big, stupid smile probably sunk him, especially when contrasted with the implauible, "Mr. Williams just needed someone to drive it back for him" cover story.

    I'm betting he gets 2-5 years, far less than Blago's 14. Marueen probably half of whatever the Governor gets. This was pretty small time really, compared to attempting to sell Obama's former Senate seat.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 1:21 PM on September 4, 2014


    That said, Seigelman was actually railroaded.

    Anyways, adios, Transvaginal Bob.
    posted by NoxAeternum at 1:22 PM on September 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


    I am so happy to see the media coverage blaring that Bob was convicted after the way he constantly tried to make it ALL HER FAULT. I found the fact that he, his backers, and their individual defense attorneys thought making her look awful would be a great defense to be nauseating. I am no fan of Maureen McDonnell, but it has been particularly infuriating to me that it's not his fault because of The Woman and he's doing his best to stand by her (but not too close less any mud land on him) and her betraying crazy harpydom as yet another good man dragged down by a danged woman.

    I do feel bad for Mrs. McDonnell in that I think she agreed to be the fall guy way back when it seemed like it'd be a short scandal with no real penalty other than a question in future interviews), and is stuck now being presented by HER OWN ATTORNEYS (well, the ones who are defending her) as the emotionally unfaithful wife who KOed her poor husband's career, who is a shrieking unlikable egocentric jerk who didn't know her place, who is the cause of all the problems. I don't think the marriage was as bad at the time as it is being presented now, but now ... it wouldn't surprise me if divorce papers were already en route to the courthouse.
    posted by julen at 1:25 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


    Also, they must be pretty short-sighted and dumb, not knowing they can make a lot more money shaking companies down for lobbying **after** serving in office. A lot more money for a lot less exposure.

    That's the thing about this, is the sheer incompetance of the corruption, for the low payoff. Sure, he took money for access, but I can honestly believe that McDonald was so inept or incompetant and caught up in trying to fan his apparently rising Republican star, that he didn't even realize that's what he was doing until it was done.

    If you want to see a corrupt Virginia politician really slither his way to riches, check out Eric Cantor, who's been playing the long con, planting the seeds of his golden parachute / revolving door jump since the first day he was elected.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 1:26 PM on September 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


    The justice system does work, sometimes. These two epitomize the culture of entitlement so rampant in the U.S. This is a good ruling, and it doesn't really matter if they go to jail (though they should), they're felons either way.
    posted by zardoz at 1:28 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    they're felons either way

    Good point. I look forward to making sure they don't ever try to vote. (Virginia is one of two states - along with Kentucky - that imposes a lifelong voting ban on convicted felons.) Voter fraud is a huge and growing problem in our country.
    posted by Naberius at 1:34 PM on September 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


    Shhh... they can't arrest a husband and wife for the same crime...
    posted by Navelgazer at 1:35 PM on September 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


    Yeah, I don't think that's true Navelgazer
    posted by hal9k at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


    Oh man, the glare she's giving him in the picture currently on Salon's front page! "Harridan?? I'll show him harridan!" If looks could kill...
    posted by Greg_Ace at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    How is it that they never indicted Mr. Ken Cuccinelli for similar crimes? Didn't he actually sell stock in the same vitamin company while in office (as Va's attorney general)?
    posted by newdaddy at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2014


    Also, useful to remember: They turned down various plea bargain deals, which would have resulted in lots less pain, dirty laundry, and et cetera. The last offer to Bob McDonnell was 1 charge, and she'd get off scott free. He rejected that one right off.

    Ken Cuccinlli was running for Governor and the Feds are loath to go after a politician (especially from the other party) currently running for office without a dead certain conviction. It's not a coincidence the McDonnells were indicted after he left office.
    posted by julen at 1:45 PM on September 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


    I've got the worst fucking attorneys...
    posted by Navelgazer at 1:45 PM on September 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


    Good point. I look forward to making sure they don't ever try to vote. (Virginia is one of two states - along with Kentucky - that imposes a lifelong voting ban on convicted felons.) Voter fraud is a huge and growing problem in our country.

    McDonnell actually pushed to change that.
    posted by ghharr at 1:47 PM on September 4, 2014


    " I don't think the marriage was as bad at the time as it is being presented now, but now ... it wouldn't surprise me if divorce papers were already en route to the courthouse."

    In that case I look forward to her rehabilitative interview in People Magazine about the marital breakdown and divorce and how she found humility and redemption in jail, given a few months after her release, which will show her looking well-groomed but unpretentious and make him seem like an EVEN BIGGER DICKHEAD who is more PR-toxic than before.

    If she spins it right, she could follow up with a stint on Dancing with the (Ever-Dimmer) Stars!
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:49 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    I did so because his opponent, Creigh Deeds, ran such a useless, pathetic excuse for a campaign.

    Sorry, I just don't understand this at all. The GOP is just such a -viciously- stupid party, particularly in Virginia, that Deeds would have had to have started speaking in tongues before I would have considered not voting for him. And if you're going to vote a protest against the Dems, just write in Mickey Mouse. Don't vote for an asshole just to punish the opposing party, because you run the risk of punishing all the Virginians who have to suffer under the asshole's reign of stupidity if he wins.
    posted by longdaysjourney at 1:52 PM on September 4, 2014 [32 favorites]


    Oh hey, did anyone else remember when ol' Bob passed that law where state employees lose their pension if convicted of a felony for on the job conduct? That might come back to bite him.
    posted by indubitable at 2:02 PM on September 4, 2014 [56 favorites]


    I don't know, as a liberal Virginian, I didn't find Mcdonnell to be overly obnoxious. He was certainly no Scott Walker or even a Chris Christie. Because of single term limits, the governors here are lame ducks from day one, and the legislature has more power, I think. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you a single thing he did in four years, good or bad.
    posted by empath at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2014


    There was the Transvaginal Ultrasound stuff. Off the top of my head.
    posted by Navelgazer at 2:10 PM on September 4, 2014 [24 favorites]


    Well don't forget the whole mandatory ultrasound thing.

    And on another note I am SO HAPPY FOR REALS that of this moment no one has made a prison rape joke. Because those are not fucking funny.
    posted by jfwlucy at 2:11 PM on September 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


    > Terry McAuliffe is an upstanding citizen, by comparison.

    Terry McAuliffe is an upstanding citizen, by comparison.

    But then again, probably so are some of the folks at Wallens Ridge. Whom, sadly, McDonnell will probably never get to meet, though I'm sure the experience would be good for him.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2014


    From indubitable's link just above:

    If convicted in U.S. District Court of trading his office for more than $150,000 in unreported loans, cash and gaudy gifts, McDonnell could lose an annual pension of at least $65,450 from the Virginia Retirement System.

    Now that's awesome.
    posted by RedOrGreen at 2:21 PM on September 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


    I'd be hard-pressed to tell you a single thing he did in four years, good or bad.

    Some "highlights" of his political career:

    1.) signed off on regulations resulting in the closure of Virginia's largest abortion provider (which also provided non-abortion services to women).
    2.) got AG Cuccinelli to issue a legal opinion to block the extension of VA employee health benefits to same-sex partners
    3.) supported the transvaginal ultrasound requirement
    4.) signed a bill to nullify Obamacare's requirement that people purchase health care insurance
    5.) spent an enormous amount of political capital on an effort to privatize liquor sales (I really wonder if he didn't get a bribe for that as well) - fortunately this went nowhere, since even his own party thought it was dumb.
    6.) outsourced VA's computer operations to Northrup Grumman, which went fantastically well.

    A wingnut with a friendly face is still a wingnut.
    posted by longdaysjourney at 2:33 PM on September 4, 2014 [27 favorites]


    McDonnell could potentially keep his pension on a technicality:

    The statute requires that a former employee’s supervisor must alert VRS that a subordinate’s pension and benefits should be suspended. To the retirement fund’s director, Bob Schultze, that raises a vexing question.

    “If the request to eliminate the benefit must be made by the former employer,” said Schultze, “who is the former employer in the case of the governor?”

    The request to suspend his pension would apparently have to come directly from the governor's office, and as governor, McDonnell technically didn't have a "supervisor" tasked with alerting the Virginia Retirement System. If it requires affirmative action to trigger rather than being automatically implemented by VRS, that would mean McAuliffe might have to issue a specific order to terminate McDonnell's benefits and might even have to make a legal arugment that he is the "former employer" under the statute, a pretty mean spirited thing to do while sitting governor. Very poor optics.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 2:36 PM on September 4, 2014


    Actually, going to prison is kind of a thing American governors (and former governors) do. Lots of (mostly white, male) governors have been to prison. Since the turn of the century, we have:

    Don Seigelman (Alabama)
    John G. Rowland (Connecticut)
    Rod Blagojevich (Illinois)
    George H. Ryan (Illinois)
    Edwin Edwards (Louisiana)

    posted by mr_roboto at 4:15 PM



    Off the top of my head there's also Arch A. Moore, Jr. (West Virginia)
    posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 2:37 PM on September 4, 2014


    Wonder if an oddly-familiar character will be joining the cast of Orange is the New Black?
    posted by Halloween Jack at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    Maureen was certainly no angel, but I've gotta tell ya, I guessed before the trial even started that ol' Bob's defense was going to be pretty much what it was: to quote DC's Marion Barry, "the bitch set me up!" It's all too common with crooked politicians to try and shove all the blame on the nearest woman, although I found the speed and vehemence with which he threw her under the bus to be a bit extreme.

    I always wonder how an ultra-conservative ultra-religious wingnut like McDonnell (a graduate of Falwell's Liberty University, if I recall correctly) can square blaming the 'little woman' for all of his screw-ups with his male-head-of-household beliefs.... seems to me that your wife is either 1)an inferior/lesser being, for whom you-the-husband are responsible, or 2)she's an equal partner, and your male-superiority beliefs are bogus. Can't have it both ways, and still make sense.

    And with any luck, yes Terry McAuliffe: please see that McDonnell's pension is lost. Damned if I want to keep paying that jerk for what he's done to this state!
    posted by easily confused at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


    Oh hey, did anyone else remember when ol' Bob passed that law where state employees lose their pension if convicted of a felony for on the job conduct? That might come back to bite him.

    Oh that is beautiful. Has karma ever been so totally and completely perfect?
    posted by zardoz at 2:55 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


    from dietary supplement executive tobacco baron and huckster Johnnie Williams
    posted by dephlogisticated at 3:04 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    The defense strategy was just so skeevy that I'm glad to see it get slapped down, hard.
    posted by benito.strauss at 3:37 PM on September 4, 2014


    Rod Blagojevich (Illinois)
    George H. Ryan (Illinois)


    Don't forget Dan Walker (Illinois), who served 18 months for a "handshake" loan prosecuted as bank fraud (however, this was long after his service as governor). That's three of the last six Illinois governors. I'm so proud of my home state.

    I don't know, as a liberal Virginian, I didn't find Mcdonnell to be overly obnoxious.

    With Virginia trending blue due to NoVa, it's my understanding that Republicans there are looking more like Northeast moderates than Southern Strategy ideologues. Still, there's Dave Brat to look forward to.

    He will probably get a nominal fine and be forced to do community service or something.

    Thing is, thanks to Truth in Sentencing, Federal convictions are not very much up to the judges anymore, and there isn't even any actual parole (it exists for historical sentences, though, so there's still a Federal parole system). Any commutation or pardon is up to the President. Earlier this summer former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to ten years, which was considered light by court watchers, particularly given "other public officials who drew stiff sentences [autostarting video], including former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (28 years), former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (14 years) and former Birmingham, Ala., mayor Larry Langford (15 years)." IOW the Holder DOJ has been pretty rigorous about prosecuting public corruption cases and you shouldn't expect a kid glove treatment, Chuffy.
    posted by dhartung at 3:48 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    "If the request to eliminate the benefit must be made by the former employer,” said Schultze, “who is the former employer in the case of the governor?"

    Virginia population is somewhere north of 8 million. That's a lot of former employers.
    posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:52 PM on September 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


    an ultra-conservative ultra-religious wingnut like McDonnell (a graduate of Falwell's Liberty University, if I recall correctly)

    Regents, actually, over in Virginia Beach. Pat Robertson's place. I know, I get them confused too.
    posted by indubitable at 3:54 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


    "That's three of the last six Illinois governors. I'm so proud of my home state."

    Illinois: Where Our Governors Make Our License Plates!
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:00 PM on September 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


    That's hilarious, Eyebrows. Though George Ryan gets a pass from me for action on the death penalty.
    posted by persona au gratin at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2014


    McDonnell did manage to raise the gas tax and solve some serious transit funding problems in the state. Pretty crap on social issues, but not horrible from a wider peespective.
    posted by humanfont at 4:22 PM on September 4, 2014


    With Virginia trending blue due to NoVa, it's my understanding that Republicans there are looking more like Northeast moderates than Southern Strategy ideologues. Still, there's Dave Brat to look forward to.

    Yea that's not really accurate except to an extent in statewide races. Virginia has (had) Eric Cantor and now Brat, Bob Goodlatte, Ken Kookinelli, Marc Obenshain and others extending verrry far out on the teaparty spectrum. Additionally, Fairfax County is the national White Suburb of D.C., where all of the national political action committees, Republican strategists and beltway media all call home, a lot of national Republican talking points and policies get a test run in Fairfax or Loudon, which is even more than Fairfax the exurban home of the 1% financiers, CEOs of defense contractors, etc. Although Fairfax is big, populous and just purple enough to really be the deciding vote in every statewide race, recently with Democratic success, the Democratic vote is otherwise extremely packed into Arlington, Alexandria and Richmond. Republicans hold 8 of 11 districts, the remainder of "continental" Virginia is as red or redder as any other southern state, with just as many dogmatic conservative avengers like Bob McDonnell.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 4:23 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    With Virginia trending blue due to NoVa, it's my understanding that Republicans there are looking more like Northeast moderates than Southern Strategy ideologues.

    It may happen eventually, but Virginia Republicans are a long, long way away from that as things stand right now. Tom Davis was the grand old man of centrist Virginia republicans, and he retired once it became clear the party was going to keep freezing him out of Senate races for being too moderate. McDonnell was good at presenting a moderate image - he has hair like a Northeastern Republican - but he knew which side his bread was buttered on, and plenty of crazy anti-woman shit got passed on his watch, even if he was content to let Cuccinelli and the state legislature be the public face of it.

    The thing is that even though Virginia is getting bluer every year - and it is indeed a state with a Democratic governor, that voted for Obama in both elections, and has two Democratic Senators, one of whom will be reelected this November without breaking a sweat in a bad year for Democrats - the red parts of it are red as fuck, probably getting even more so, and right now they're the ones who run the state Republican party. You have Regent and Liberty pumping out this steady stream of ambitious young ultra-reactionaries with law degrees into the state GOP too.

    Fun fact, when Bob McDonnell started his JD there, Regent University was still called Christian Broadcasting Network University.
    posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:23 PM on September 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


    I always wonder how an ultra-conservative ultra-religious wingnut like McDonnell (a graduate of Falwell's Liberty University, if I recall correctly) can square blaming the 'little woman' for all of his screw-ups with his male-head-of-household beliefs.... seems to me that your wife is either 1)an inferior/lesser being, for whom you-the-husband are responsible, or 2)she's an equal partner, and your male-superiority beliefs are bogus. Can't have it both ways, and still make sense.

    Makes sense if you hate women.
    posted by Navelgazer at 4:32 PM on September 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


    As for the flavor of VA Republicans, there's some divide-and-conquer going on, so the bluer NoVa gets, the more the GOP has to play to the Tidewater.
    posted by Navelgazer at 4:35 PM on September 4, 2014


    not horrible from a wider peespective

    I see what you did there.
    posted by mcstayinskool at 5:04 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    As for the flavor of VA Republicans, there's some divide-and-conquer going on, so the bluer NoVa gets, the more the GOP has to play to the Tidewater.

    Although the last slate of statewide canidates with The Kook, Obenshain and, bless his heart, E.W. Jackson, shows the actual interest in doing so is debatable at best.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 5:10 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    Siegelman should be exonerated. My comment about community service/slap on the wrist was mostly snark, so I fear troll points are due...
    posted by Chuffy at 5:14 PM on September 4, 2014


    Tidewater actually has some quite blue areas these days, down around Hampton Roads. Remaining Republican strongholds (ie, places that actually have people in them) are the Richmond suburbs, the DC exurbs (counties further out than Fairfax), and and the Williamburg and north parts of Tidewater. Democrats are NoVa, Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Charlottesville/Albemarle. The rest of the map is pretty red (with some independent city blue dots), but also irrelevant for statewide elections for lack of population, though I suppose you might count Lynchburg and the Roanoke suburbs as marginally significant in size. Roanoke is blue, though.

    I've had to chill out some anxious people during both the 2008 and 2012 elections who don't understand Virginia voting patterns and saw Republican leads in what was predicted to be a blue state. In 2008, it was Richmond that hadn't come in, in 2012 Fairfax was way behind.
    posted by tavella at 5:22 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


    The irony of Bob McDonnell's defense given his master's thesis is amazing. The thesis itself is rambling twaddle of familiar platitudes positing a Christian, Republican, traditional family as the source of "moral absolutes," apparently including law and order, respect for authority, and civic responsibility. Sadly, this moral bedrock is under attack by Marx, Hobbes, Rousseau, Democrats, secularism, socialism and the Internal Revenue Code (rising taxes having forced women into the workforce, don't you know). Or, you know, by McDonnell blaming his misdeeds on his "harridan" wife. The same wife whom he credits with turning "marginally-legible scratch into these finished pages" in the acknowledgments of his thesis, by the way.
    posted by DrMew at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


    Bill Clinton also pardoned Fife Symington.
    One of his less defensible acts. After Symington mucked up Arizona, he mucked up the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Thankfully he's no longer involved with it.
    posted by Creosote at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2014


    Bet he still claims his relationship was worth subsidizing in a way that a healthy gay marriage is not. Hope he has plenty of time in jail to contemplate where he went wrong in life…
    posted by adamsc at 5:44 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    Tidewater native here. Tidewater (now officially Hampton Roads) is an interesting area. It's heavily military and pretty conservative overall, but there are still a lot of Democratic votes here. Norfolk is strongly blue. Virginia Beach is dependably red. Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News are somewhere in between. Virginia democrats are dependent on NoVa, Richmond/Petersburg, Tidewater, and, to a lesser extent, Roanoke and Charlottesville votes. The rest of the state is solidly red. Even so, most successful Virginia democrats are milquetoast moderates.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:59 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    My entire time living in Virginia was in NoVa, so I apologize for making Tidewater a synecdoche for "conservative VA."
    posted by Navelgazer at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2014


    Even though I'm a Tidewater native,I did live in NoVa for 25 years. Comparatively, Tidewater is " conservative Virginia". But it's still more cosmopolitan than the majority of the state.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:09 PM on September 4, 2014


    the Williamburg and north parts of Tidewater

    Williamsburg went 60% for Obama in 2012 (although James City and York are both heavily conservative; divided primarily by race). Williamsburg had a history of voter intimidation (student voter registration records had a curious habit of going missing on election day), but has been solidly blue for the past several cycles.

    McDonnell did manage to raise the gas tax and solve some serious transit funding problems in the state.

    He also imposed a tax on hybrids for no good reason, other than to punish environmentalists....

    The state's transit funding problems are also largely self-imposed. NoVA can't decide how to spend its own transit funds, and VDOT has an unusual amount of power for a state-level transportation department -- counties and cities have very little power to actually spend money on transportation.

    The Silver Line was also a textbook example of corruption. Built and financed by MWAA (who, again, have a surprising amount of power, and history of corruption), effectively awarded as a no-bid contract, and costing billions of dollars more than any comparable project, even after every conceivable corner had been cut. Bids for the second phase (which was competitive) were all hundreds of millions of dollars below estimates, which suggests that something was seriously rotten with the first phase and overall cost-estimation process.
    posted by schmod at 6:22 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


    Where I lived was at Potomac Yards. I moved out of there a few years back, and it appears that they still haven't gotten the S. Glebe Metro Station that the area there was built up around the promise of.
    posted by Navelgazer at 6:26 PM on September 4, 2014


    Virginia population is somewhere north of 8 million. That's a lot of former employers.

    I'm one of them, and although McDonnell was hired over my objections, I'll be making my request tomorrow.
    posted by stevis23 at 6:32 PM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


    Charlottesville/Albemarle is gerrymandered up into multiple national house districts in such a way to "balance out" voters who might lean more liberally with voters who lean more conservative. My region takes my rep 2.5 hours to drive from the northernmost point to the southernmost point.

    Meanwhile, my state rep comes from an entirely different gerrymandered region, again, to balance out more liberal votes. This time the region expands as it crosses the mountains getting wider to encompass a larger swath of more conservative voters.

    It's only in presidential, senatorial, governor (and Lt. Gov and Attorney General) races, that you can see the cluster of more liberal votes in Charlottesville/Albemarle.
    posted by julen at 6:34 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


    The other time you can see that Charlottesville/Albemarle blue vote come out is right at the high tide of a wave election, like when Tom Perriello won the 5th district in '08. Which, you know, that didn't end up lasting, but it least it was the end of Virgil Goode's political career, so it's still something to be proud of. I have no idea if that could still happen after the last redistricting, though.
    posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:44 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


    Truly hard to believe that a dietary supplement company could be anything other than completely above board.
    posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:07 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


    We were all surprised to get the verdict today, but it meant I got to spend one more day at the courthouse and then meet my wife for dinner instead of working until 11:30 like I normally do.
    posted by emelenjr at 7:21 PM on September 4, 2014


    $177,000

    Politicians are bought so easily these days. I mean, if you're going to be a corrupt politician, at least be competent at it, you know?

    For reference, the VA Governor's annual salary is $175, 000. He sold himself off for one year of his salary.

    From a wider perspective

    Social issues are the wider perspective. Transitory tax issues--even when important, as they are for transit--are not quite so important as ensuring a just society for all, which repays any investments manyfold.
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:31 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


    emelenjr, how were you involved?
    posted by Navelgazer at 7:44 PM on September 4, 2014


    I do digital stuff for one of the local TV affiliate stations, and I spent most of the duration of the trial either in the courtroom, the overflow courtroom (where I was today) or in the tiny media room where the federal government graciously allowed us to use our phones and laptops.
    posted by emelenjr at 8:10 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


    I want the McDonnells to have a cell together. And I want live video/audio feeds out of the cell. And I want it streamed Pay-Per-View. And I want the revenue to fund initiatives to advance the separation of church and state. And I want a blimp with video display to fly over Regents 24 x 7 broadcasting the feed. And another over Lynchburg, Virginia's other madrassa HQ.

    And I want to call the show, "Transvaginal Bob Goes To The Pokey"
    posted by skepticbill at 8:58 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


    woo
    posted by arnicae at 9:31 PM on September 4, 2014


    He also imposed a tax on hybrids for no good reason, other than to punish environmentalists....

    One, screw those people. My car gets better gas mileage than half of the hybrids that are eligible for the special plates that give you a pass on the HOV requirements in NoVa. You might as well put air quotes around "environmentalists." It's just a badge of virtuous consumption.

    Two, if you live in NoVa, $64/yr hybrid tax plus the additional $25 plate fee to ride in the HOV lanes by yourself is no hardship. If you were really an advocate for the environment: carpool, slugline, bicycle, or ride a motorcycle. But these "environmentalists" don't bother because that requires a greater lifestyle sacrifice than $7.42 per month in fees and taxes. If I could use the HOV lanes anytime I could regain about an hour per day not sitting in traffic; well worth the additional $.25 daily in taxes and fees. Hybrid drivers are getting off pretty easy under this tax burden. So see number one, screw those people who want to complain about the cost of one burrito a month.

    Three, tradition is strong in Virginia. Gov Harry Byrd created a political dynasty a century ago that is still in play today. Part of his legacy is the idea of "pay as you go" when it comes to roads. Instead of paying for infrastructure improvements from general funds or state/municipal bonds, Byrd's policies required that the people who benefit from new roads to be the ones who pay for it with local/regional taxes and fees. Rural Virginians didn't pay for road used by urban Virginians, and all Virginians paid now for road construction when they are needed, not over the next 30 years (no bonds; no kicking the funding down the road for the next generation to take care of). His regime provided a framework that got Va connected in a way that other confederate states were unable to do, in a way that continues to provide a lasting economic benefit today.

    Fast forward many years, Gov Jim Gilmore kills the "car tax," a city/county property tax that the commonwealth didn't even collect, then pays local jurisdictions out of general revenue for the lost local tax revenue for their road projects. It proves to be a complete cock-up. He makes promises when state coffers are flush with dot com tax revenue then tries to make good on his promises during the dot com bust and the post 9/11 downturn when Va is broke (both greatly affect Northern Virginia, the economic engine for most of the state).

    Gilmore's successor, Gov Mark Warner rides Gov Byrd's playbook into office supporting regional transportation funding, giving both congested NoVa and Tidewater the ability to put local transportation taxes up for a vote. His opponent Mark Early can't even bother to take a position on the car tax phase-out mess. The Democratic Mark is elected and, during a time of economic contractions, local funding initiates for road projects are voted down easily.

    So in the current environment of no car tax for local project funding, a minimum of general funds appropriations to transportation funding, local opposition to special use taxes for transportation projects, schmod is right that Va suffers from self-imposed funding problems. But the current, tiny Hybrid tax has a historical precedent:

    Road project funding is a six-legged stool: federal funds, state or local grants, state gas taxes, vehicle license and tag fees (or now general funds allocations), .5% state sales tax, and local taxes and fees. Shaving off or adding on to any leg is a difficult political mess, in as much as adjusting the length of any of the other legs is.

    A small surcharge on hybrid vehicles, who use the roads increasingly without paying their fair share in gas taxes can supplement a shrinking State gas tax leg if their tax liability is calculated fairly. In the case of electric vehicles, they pay no gas tax and thus no share of the regular maintenance yet derive the benefits of mostly well maintained and orderly roadway. And more and more of these vehicles will be using the road in the coming years. This addition tax is a politically cheap bandaid that is readily accepted over a larger policy fight of a complete funding overhaul.

    I think it's Holden Caulfield levels of phony to believe that driving a Prius or Tesla and paying Tesla/Prius gas taxes is a fair share of roadway maintenance costs just because those costs are have been historically tied to gas taxes. If you want me to take you seriously, propose a better method of funding the roads and a politically viable way to get us there.

    I'm not defending Gov McDonald, or the conservative Va legislature, who I believe are all guilty of bad governance. I'm also not defending Gov Byrd's pay-as-you-go legacy, as I'm sure the way of the past isn't the way to fund current and future infrastructure needs. But I do want to point out that the hybrid tax is more complicated than a simple $64/yr punishment of Prius-driving Obama voters.
    posted by peeedro at 2:12 AM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


    It should also be pointed out that they phased out the ability of hybrids to use the HOV lanes without 3 riders on board a few years ago. Although early next year the HOV lanes 95 south of DC will open up to anybody willing to pay to use them. 3 rider vehicles will still be free, but the well off will be able to buy themselves out of traffic without having to share a ride. It's going to cost about $20 a rush hour each way, so it won't be cheap. However, high priced consultants and lawyers will easily get that reimbursed in exchange for getting into the office 45 minutes earlier every day.
    posted by COD at 4:58 AM on September 5, 2014


    But I do want to point out that the hybrid tax is more complicated than a simple $64/yr punishment of Prius-driving Obama voters.

    No disagreement there. However, that's not how it was sold to the Virginia legislature, and McDonnell went on a bit of a weird crusade to increase truck traffic through the state, which adds potentially no tax revenue, but adds a ton of costs in terms of maintenance.

    (Also, kudos to Arlington for saying "FUCK NO" to the HOT lanes on 395. The I-95 HOT project is especially going to suck for off-peak commuters and long-distance travelers, who are currently allowed to use the existing HOV facility for free)
    posted by schmod at 5:36 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


    The HOT Lanes should get me home 10-15 minutes quicker each day. I slug in from Stafford and riding HOV all the way to the exit while bypassing the daily clusterfuck at Quantico is going to be a noticeable improvement.
    posted by COD at 7:34 AM on September 5, 2014


    A small surcharge on hybrid vehicles, who use the roads increasingly without paying their fair share in gas taxes

    You said at the beginning of your rant that your non-hybrid gets better gas mileage than about half the hybrids out there. Do you pay your fair share in gas taxes?
    posted by dirigibleman at 8:16 AM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


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