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June 13, 2013

So ‘Un-Virginia Like’

Harry M. Covert

It may be too early for some to think a Virginia governor may have to resign before his term is completed. It could happen.


The Commonwealth has never had a governor forced to leave for misconduct.


Bob McDonnell, the 71st chief executive, may be a good leader on northern Virginia transportation programs, but it seems as if he has a problem handling domestic help and/or handling responsible financial matters at home, in this case, the Executive Mansion.


Political watchers have been following alleged antics of the gubernatorial kitchen. That is his chef has been charged with embezzlement. On top of this, he and his family have been recipients of a donor’s munificence as far as are publicly known. The donor kicked in $15,000 to pay for his daughter’s wedding reception. This may be legal – but not wise.


On top of all this, “Mrs. Governor” has received some nice “considerations” from the same donor, flying her hither and yon to business conferences outside of the Old Dominion. Lots of money gifts. Explanations have been interesting: the gifts are all legal, other governors have done the same; and a couple have suggested these perquisites should be tightened.


Now, welcome the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


Is Mr. McDonnell oblivious to the serious nature of the inquiries? Is he unmindful of the events ongoing at Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice where wiretapping is rampant, Internal Revenue Service has been curbing some conservative political organizations and federal investigators will be having a heyday?


Larry Sabato, not even using his crystal ball, was taken aback by the probe of Virginia’s governor. On Washington radio waves, Dr. Sabato simply described the situation as “so un-Virginia like.”


Jeff Schapiro of The Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the best political columnists, responded to my note this way, “methinks Larry hit the nail on the head.”


Reporter Julie Carey of NBC4 Washington did a good journalistic job pursuing the governor in a northern Virginia appearance on Monday. She was only able to get these words, “I’m here to talk only about transportation” before he ducked into the safety of an elevator. Of course, had he been running for another office, he – or a flak – would be dying to speak with Ms. Carey.


The question now comes. Will Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling get a chance to be governor, even for only a month or two? He has served faithfully an almost two-term tenure. Being a team player, Mr. Bolling set aside his own ambition so Mr. McDonnell could run. He was supposedly the heir apparent but was victim to the current Republican nominee – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The latter was determined to leap over the lieutenant governor. He did.


All this does not bode well for Virginia citizens who appear just as unenthusiastic about Democratic Party choices.


Times have changed indubitably. More questions loom for the governor. It’s a bit scary that the feds have to come into the Old Dominion as if it were dealing with elected leaders in other adjacent governments or going off to Hong Kong to extradite an American citizen who apparently has disvalued oaths.


Opening the door to FBI visits is just as serious as welcoming opponents who enjoy raising money using candidates’ own words.


The coming off-year Virginia election will be one to remember. Maybe it is a good idea that governors can’t succeed themselves in the Old Dominion.


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