Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) resigned today in what seems to be in exchange for a new job for himself and a judgeship for his daughter.
Democrats are crying foul, claiming that Republicans are buying Puckett out with job offers in order to undermine Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The bitter disagreement over the expansion is holding up the development of a state budget, which must be determined by July 1.
Republicans deny that Puckett is resigning in exchange for the jobs, but his departure gives the GOP a temporary 20-to-19 majority in the Senate while two prominent Democrats are out of town. McAuliffe admitted that “Puckett’s resignation created ‘uncertainty’ for his plan to expand the federal-state health program,” according to the Washington Post.
Some Democrats are trying to determine if they have the power to block Puckett’s new job appointment, but his daughter has already taken her judgeship in Southwest Virginia. Since the Senate has a policy against appointing relatives of active legislators to the bench, Puckett had to resign in order for his daughter to legally become a judge.