Phil Puckett's "Virginia Way"

Just to beat a dead horse a little more: both the RTD's Jeff Schapiro and Blue Virginia have more this weekend on the developing Phil Puckett investigation. For those who haven't been watching (or who feel their stomach turning every time they look at VA politics):

  • The Virginia Senate was evenly divided, 20-20, between Democrats and Republicans this year. Since the (Democratic) Lt. Governor casts the tie-breaking vote, the Democrats controlled the chamber.
  • Democratic Senator Phil Puckett abruptly resigned earlier this month, giving the Republicans a 20-19 majority (and rendering the Lt. Gov's vote moot). This happened just in advance of a big budget vote.
  • It turns out that Puckett was going to be offered a cushy job for a state commission, which is headed by a Republican representative from the House of Delegates. E-mails show that the commission was fully aware of at least the appearance of a quid pro quo - a bribe, in other words.
  • Plus Puckett's daughter was in line for a state judgeship, but the general policy of the General Assembly is not to approve candidates related to sitting members. (Though why anyone cares about that kind of nepotism at this point is beyond me.)

So now we've got a federal grand jury looking at whatever deal Puckett's made. Meanwhile, while the Governor put some useful gift restrictions in place on his administration, he let the General Assembly pass a completely toothless ethics reform law, and then last week quietly vetoed any funding for the commission set up by the bill. The Governor promised better results in the future:

The ethics reform bill passed by the General Assembly was far weaker than what Virginians deserve of proper ethics reform.  I plan to present revised legislation to the 2015 General Assembly session on this topic, and the creation of a new bureaucracy beforehand would be unwise and premature.... My Administration and their families live under a $100 gift ban.  Virginians deserve a General Assembly that gets closer to that standard.  

Any idea on how this is going to happen, especially with Republicans now in control of both chambers of the legislature and an increasingly toxic political environment? Yaybo to the Virginia Way.