In the wake of the guilty verdicts of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on corruption charges, leaders in the Virginia General Assembly say they will introduce further ethics reforms in the 2015 legislative session. This year’s bipartisan ethics bill was ultimately approved by all 140 members of the General Assembly. It put a $250 cap on tangible gifts public officials can receive from lobbyists and government contractors, lowered many of the financial disclosure requirements from $10,000 to $5,000 and added family members for some of the disclosures.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was unable to make good on a campaign promise to expand his state’s Medicaid program earlier this year, but today (September 8) rolled out a new initiative he says will grant coverage to over 200,000 Virginians who are currently uninsured. The Governor’s Access Plan or GAP, will grant health coverage to 20,000 Virginians in the coverage gap who suffer from severe mental illness. The program is fully funded for six months with $80 million in federal and state fudning.
Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to announce a new health care access plan this morning (9/8) at his office in Capitol Square. The briefing is booked as a major health care announcement.
Last week during the final days of the McDonnell trial, Secretary of Health Bill Hazel was scheduled to deliver to Governor McAuliffe a new alternative plan to expanding Medicaid. Thus far no details have emerged.
Richmond City Council is re-examining the city’s real estate tax rate, considering a possible 1 to 2 cent cut per $100 of assessed value. The rate currently stands at $1.20. Council has the option to keep it the same or cut it to $1.19 or $1.18.
A state law triggers an automatic rollback rate when average real estate assessments increase by more than 1%. Reports show that Richmond’s average property values have increased by 2% in recent months. Papers will be introduced this evening though a vote is unlikely until mid to late October.
Craig Carper, who covered the McDonnell trial for WCVE and NPR, discusses some key moments.
Bob McDonnell, the 71st Governor of Virginia has been found guilty along with his wife Maureen of corruption, bribery and conspiracy. Bob McDonnell becomes the first elected governor in Virginia history to be convicted of any serious crime.
Two months ago he rejected a plea deal from prosecutors that would have let him plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and spare him and his wife of any jail time.
Longtime Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth says it’s the worst misjudgment he’s ever seen a politician make.
Convicted yesterday of multiple counts of corruption, bribery and conspiracy, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, both 60 years old, could face a maximum 30 years in federal prison.
Corruption convictions require mandatory minimum prison sentences though legal analyst Todd Stone says Judge James Spencer has leeway in their length. If Judge Spencer believes the Governor lied on the stand, that could aggravate his sentence.
US Senator John McCain campaigned on behalf of Republican US Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie at a campaign event in Norfolk yesterday (9/4). The former Republican presidential nominee and Gillespie appeared at a rally at a Veterans of Foreign War meeting hall, where both criticized President Obama’s foreign policy and said that automatic spending cuts known as sequestration need to come to an end. While Gillespie says the military should not be immune from spending cuts, he said defense spending needs to be budgeted in accordance with national security priories.
Federal prosecutors have a laundry list of evidence to support their charges of a corrupt quid pro quo conspiracy agreement between Bob and Maureen McDonnell and Jonnie Williams, though the vast majority of that evidence is circumstantial.
The defense strategy of limiting Governor McDonnell’s knowledge about his wife’s dealings with Jonnie Williams protects them both, because she was not an elected official, and therefore was free to accept as many gifts as she wanted.