Could Another Virginia Governor Go Down for Corruption?

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has already been convicted on multiple charges of corruption and now current Gov. Terry McAuliffe is in hot water after the Washington Post revealed that his top aide offered to get a legislator’s daughter a job if he would stay in the assembly and vote to expand Medicaid.

The situation began as an investigation into corruption by Republicans, who arranged a cushy job for then-state Sen. Phillip Puckett, a Democrat who resigned to take that job and flipped control to the Republicans, who then voted down a bill that would have expanded Medicaid. But now it looks like McAuliffe was doing the same thing for Puckett’s daughter:

Puckett’s abrupt exit came amid accusations that Republicans had enticed him to leave with job offers for himself and his daughter, triggering an ongoing federal investigation and inflaming partisan passions in Richmond.

Now a voice-mail message suggests that Puckett fielded a similar overture from Paul Reagan, McAuliffe’s chief of staff.

The governor’s spokesman initially denied Thursday that Reagan had made any potential job offers, but he later acknowledged that the call had been made after he was read a transcript of Reagan’s message given to The Washington Post.

“Mr. Reagan acted on his own to inform the senator that there were other available opportunities for which his daughter might apply,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said. “No further conversations about this topic ever occurred. No position was ever formally offered.”

Yes, of course he didn’t. And I’m sure many of you will believe that. But would you believe a Republican who said the same thing? Do you believe Chris Christie when he says he didn’t know anything about the bridge closings? I’m guessing no. Here’s what was actually said, which is pretty clear:

“I know there was a lot of frustration with your daughter, not, you know, getting a judgeship or something,” Reagan said, according to the transcript provided to The Post. “If there’s something that we can do for her, I mean, you know, we have a couple of big agencies here that we still need agency heads. We could potentially, potentially, subject to approval of the governor and so forth, you know, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy could be available.

“So we would be very eager to accommodate her, if, if that would be helpful in keeping you in the Senate. We, we would basically do anything. We just need you really, we need you for the rest of your term and beyond, but in the immediate future, we need you to help us get this Medicaid deal through and I think we’ve got a way to do it.”

Sounds like that federal investigation needs to be expanded. It wasn’t just Republicans offering sweet deals to get a vote.

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  • colnago80

    It should be noted that, as I understand it, the Rethuglican offer was made first. It’s not just a question of one state senator’s vote. At the time, the State Senate was divided 40/40 between the parties with the Democratic lieutenant governor casting the deciding vote, allowing the Democrats to elect the majority leader. With the resignation of Puckett, there was a special election which was won by the Rethuglican candidate so that now they control the State Senate and elect the majority leader. Instead of trying to beat the Rethuglicans at their own game, McAuliffe and Co. should have put their effort into winning the special election and thus thwarting the Rethuglican dirty tricks.

  • John Pieret

    Sauce. Goose. Gander. When you play a dirty game, both sides get muddy. The side that “wins” (actually paid the bribe) is still the most culpable.

  • Marcus Ranum

    Given the prior probabilities, “investigate thoroughly and congratulate if innocent” seems like the best policy.

  • Marcus Ranum

    It’s funny to see a genocidaire, colnago80 calling anyone a “thug” when they advocate murder on a smaller scale than you do.

  • chuckonpiggott

    No, this will not take another governor down. There was no personal benefit to the governor. The McDonnell case was about personal gain and corruption.

    This whole episode is a case study in the “Virginia Way”. Virginia is ranked near the bottom of all states for transparency and this sort of thing is common. The only reason the Puckett deal came to notice was the Medicaid expansion. If it had involved some other parochial VA issue no one would’ve batted an eye.

    As for the Dems winning that seat in a special election. No way in hell, not that district or that region of VA.

  • colnago80

    Re chuckonpiggott #5

    Well Puckett managed to get elected from that district.

  • karmacat

    Fuck Puckett. Because of his actions, 400,000 Virginians do not have health insurance. And he must of know that would happen, but decided his and his daughter’s wishes were more important.

  • dingojack

    karmacat – well to be fair, I’m sure his daughter has top-notch private medical insurance, and that’s all that counts (to him).



  • Modusoperandi

    There’s no need for all this corruption.

    If The Poors wanted competent, low-deductible, subsidized healthcare insurance, they should’ve gotten elected to the Virginia legislature, as God intended.

  • abb3w

    I voted for him.

    I don’t think the odds are particularly high for him going down for this bit of shenanigans at the gray line between political nepotism and criminal bribery; maybe 10%. Contrariwise, I voted for him in full expectation from his background that he would be indicted before the end of the four-year term. Nohow, unless he gets indicted before Halloween, he’ll still have lasted longer than I think Cuccinelli would have.

  • colnago80

    Re karmacat @ #7

    I’m a little confused about this claim. A bill to approve expansion of Medicaid would have to pass both houses of the legislature and the Rethuglicans control the House of Delegates by a huge margin so I fail to see how it would pass. Maybe I’m missing something and there were 17 Rethuglican votes to pass it in the House of Delegates, which I greatly doubt.

  • opie

    ANOTHER Virginia governor? Yawn. I’m from Illinois. 4 out of our last 7 have been sent to prison. “Illinois: where former governors actually make your license plates.”

  • eric

    Looks to me like it might have been an own goal. If the Dems started or pushed for the initial investigation, knowing that both parties had in fact put illegal offers on the table, well, what did they think was going to happen?

    I voted for him in full expectation from his background that he would be indicted before the end of the four-year term.

    Yeah, IIRC this last gubernatorial race was billed as being an idiot vs. a crook, with McAuliffe being the crook. And now what a surprise, we find out his administration’s a bit crooked.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    I first saw the title as “Could Another Virginia Governor Be Down for Corruption?”

    I thought, “Sure, put me down for three.”