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REAL SOLUTIONS FOR EDUCATION

death and life of education

It's not too late (is it?) to give gifts to the family of VA Gov. "Slick Bob" McConnell

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There's undoubtedly a wisecrack to be cracked about the spectacle of a grinning Maureen and Bob McDonnell pawing checks, but I don't have the heart to crack it.

"[U]nder Virginia law, elected officials do not have to notify the state about gifts to immediate family members. The officials have to annually disclose any gifts to themselves worth more than $50."


by Ken

Let's say that you're the governor of a state. (Hey, it could happen. If Rick Snyder and Rick Scott and Scott Walker can be governors, and Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer too, it's not as if there are, you know, standards for the job.) And let's say you notice a preposterous loophole in your state's law whereby any gifts you receive worth more than $50 have to be reported whereas gifts to members of your immediate family, the sky's the limit.

The question is: What do you do?

(a) Gifts worth more than $50? Are you serious? Neither my family nor I would accept a gift worth more than $50 because it could be seen as potentially corrupting.

(b) On the theory that the potentially corrupting effect of a gift worth more than $50 is indistinguishable whether it's made to me or to a member of my immediate family, I report all such gifts.

(c) I follow the letter of the law, reporting only gifts worth more than $50 made to me, but as governor I make it a priority to urge the state legislature to close this loophole.

(d) I follow not just the letter but also the probable spirit of the law and encourage a binge of family gift-receiving. Did Roman emperors "report" gifts from their grateful subjects? Did Tony Soprano? In some cultures, giving gifts to your leader is not only not frowned on, it's encouraged if not required.

As you may have heard, Virginia's outgoing governor, "Slick Bob" McDonnell, is having his troubles with this issue, and the really annoying part -- I mean from Governor Bob's standpoint -- is that more and more gifts to Clan McDonnell keep turning up.

From today's Washington Post report, "Investigators looking into whether Va. first lady
got free dental work, 2 people say
," by Laura Vozzella and Rosalind S. Helderman:

RICHMOND -- Investigators looking into gifts to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his family have asked questions about whether first lady Maureen McDonnell received cosmetic dental work for free, according to two people familiar with the probe.

Federal officials have been investigating allegations that a dentist within the large Richmond-area practice of W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. provided cosmetic dentistry services at no charge to the first lady, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Free dental work would expand the number of gifts that the first family has received and add a new name to what has been a short list of benefactors. It also would fit a pattern of items given to Maureen McDonnell -- including designer clothing and accessories -- that appear to have been aimed at polishing her image as first lady.

Until now, most of the gifts that investigators were known to be probing were from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific. They include a $15,000 New York shopping spree for the first lady, a $6,500 Rolex watch for the Republican governor and $145,000 in payments and loans to the McDonnells and two of their bride-to-be daughters.

Investigators also have asked about possible gifts from Del. David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun), a jeweler who confirmed last month that he had been called to appear as a witness before a federal grand jury in the case.

Hmm, free dental services -- icky but not a huge deal, you say? Well, by amazing coincidence the owner of the industrial-scale dental practice one of whose minions provided Madame Mac's free cosmetic dentistry, isn't just some random jaw-cracker.
A well-known dentist with 11 offices in the Richmond area, Perkinson has a $20 million building named after him at the Vir­ginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. McDonnell appointed Perkinson to the VCU board of visitors in July 2010. He had previously served as VCU rector and as vice president of the VCU Health Systems board.
(Commented "a woman who returned a call on behalf of [Dr. Perkinson's] practice and who gave her name only as Marie": "We're not at liberty to discuss anything." Patient confidentiality, you know.)

As for the clan's principal benefactor, Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.:

The McDonnells have been under scrutiny for gifts since The Washington Post reported in March that they had promoted a nutritional supplement made by Star Scientific around the time that Williams picked up the $15,000 catering tab at the wedding of one of their daughters.

The governor had not reported the gift on the disclosure form he filed the state, but he said he did not have to because it was a present to his daughter, not to him. He has said efforts by himself or his wife to promote the supplement, an anti-inflammatory named Anatabloc, were in line with what they would do to boost any Virginia-based enterprise.

Uh-oh, hold on a sec here. Coupla things:

* $15K worth of catering for the guv's daughter's wedding was a present to his daughter, not to him? So Governor Bob isn't one of those tradition-bound dads who takes it upon himself to pay for his daughter's wedding? (Maybe not, if he can get strangers to pick up the tab.) Man, this smells bad to me.

* Around that very time, Clan McDonnell was promoting this guy's nutritional supplement? Somebody's gotta be kidding here, right? The governor does product promotions?

As it happens, Governor Bob has hired a "privately funded" mouthpiece to deal with the mounting allegations, and from the spinmeister's yap comes the expected bullshit explanation that there's no issue of disclosure because the gifts were to family members, not to the guv, and the law doesn't require disclosure.

Which would mean, I guess, that the guv is too stupid to understand the corruption issue. Does he really believe that gifts to his family -- like that wedding tab Jonnie Williams picked up -- are any less corrupting than cash goodies dumped directly into the pocket of the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia? (Who is, we should recall, the former state attorney general.) And the buttwipe has the chutzpah to hide behind the "law only requires" defense? What in tarnation is the purpose of having a governor if he's spending his time finding his way around the laws of the commonwealth?

If Governor Bob really wants to stand by the "youse can't pin nuttin' on me, coppers" defense, then he really does need to resign immediately and forswear any future government service. And maybe the appropriate prosecutors might want to take a closer look at what they can and can't pin on Slick Bob.

Don't ask me what goes through the minds of these people. I understand that corruption isn't a strictly partisan or ideology-bound trait, but over the last few decades we've seen a transformation whereby the modern American Right, which for decades had claimed to be the earthly guardian of Law 'n' Order, has become a vast network of crooks and general sleazebags. It's been noted before but is worth nothing again: These are the very people who have so successfully demonized Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as (sneer) "entitlement" programs, even though these are programs whose participants are genuinely entitled, with no sneering quotes, to benefits. But at the same time these garbage-brained weasels sincerely believe that they are entitled to any hunk of money they can land their thieving hands on.

And these are also many of the same people who show up in church on Sunday, presumably to worship their God of Grifting -- and to get absolution for their sins the rest of the week?

DON'T FORGET, "CUCKOO KEN" LIKES PRESENTS TOO

It's no secret that there's no love lost between Governor Bob and the creature nominated by their party to succeed him, the current governor's successor as attorney general, "Cuckoo Ken" Cuccinelli. Oh, they're both right-wing extremists, but Slick Bob believes in putting the face of modernity on his primitive ideology, whereas Cuckoo Ken likes serving it raw.

At the moment, you'll recall, he has assumed the mantle of the Scourge of Sodomy, defending the state's anti-sodomy law, even though it would presumably apply to consenting adults of all sexual persuasions. He pretends it's to protect children, but of course the law doesn't do that -- and the lying scumbag has done squat to craft legislation that actually might protect minors against sexual predators.

That is, assuming there aren't already adequate laws on the books. With an ignorant scumbag like Cuckoo Bob as the state's chief law-enforcement official, who knows what the state's laws do or don't do? If this hurts the Kookster's feelings, well, maybe Jonnie Williams will buy him something nice.

As you probably know, the Cuckooman is on Jonnie's gift list too. He's just been invited to account for yet another round of unreported largesse. The moral: Watch out for right-wingers yammering about morality.

#

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Original author: KenInNY
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