This morning, I saw the latest scandal du jour in the VPAP clips. Three thoughts on that.
1. I’ve known Paul Reagan for fifteen years, as an official for Mark Warner, Jim Webb and now Terry McAuliffe. (Back in the 90′s, he also served on the Consumer Protection Commission, where I used to appear as an attorney). I regard him as one of the most honest and reputable people I’ve met in Virginia. Nothing he said or suggested with Senator Puckett has changed my opinion. I’ll leave it at that.
2. The Puckett investigation is a road to nowhere and we’re slowly getting there. While Phil’s actions in resigning just before a key vote were wrong (in my humble opinion), that is a matter between him and his friends. It does not involve the U.S. Attorney. This is not “McDonnell Part Deux.” There is nothing illegal about resigning from a public office to take a better-paid position, either with the private sector or with state government. If it was, then you could lock up a lot of people in River City right now.
3. The Puckett resignation was never about his taking a job with the Tobacco Commission or allowing a full-time judicial position for his daughter. (Neither of which has happened to date). It was about THE TIMING. In June, the Senate budget still contained Medicaid expansion through “Marketplace Virginia,” but we needed a couple more weeks to enact that in the final state budget. Phil’s resignation killed that opportunity. It also cost us the majority — but that’s a separate issue.
In summary, this whole thing is getting absurd. The Puckett resignation happened. Each side took actions to make it happen (or keep it from happening). Neither set of actions were illegal, although we can all agree that the situation was awkward — especially for Democrats who were blindsided and tried to react.
Regardless, the Governor and Paul were doing all they could to save a legislative measure (Medicaid expansion) which had great value to thousands of Virginians. If that’s a scandal, well then lock us all up.