Webb Defends PAC’s Payments to Family Members

Former U.S. senator and 2016 presidential hopefully Jim Webb is defending the payments of tens of thousands of dollars from his political action committee to family members, reports The Washington Post.

Over $90,000 has been paid to Webb’s daughter and wife by The Born Fighting PAC for their work on both the design and management of his websites according to this report published by Business Insider.

A spokesman for Webb said Tuesday that the work of his daughter and wife is “real and provable”, and did not confirm the dollar amount reported by Business Insider that were taken from filings made in compliance with campaign finance law.

“Adding up numbers across several years for a sensational headline doesn’t tell the story,” says Webb spokeswoman Ashleigh Owens. “Since its inception the Born Fighting PAC has supported Senator Webb’s vision of leadership, both with respect to issues he continues to advance and also to support candidates.”

These payments could pose difficulties for Webb, the first democrat to officially announce candidacy for the 2016 election, as he works to build a national network equipped to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current front-runner for the 2016 nomination.

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Morrissey to Run as Independant

Disgraced Del. Joe Morrissey,who was recently convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, has decided to run for his own seat as an independent in the special Jan. 13 election, reports The Washington Post.

His candidacy ensures that the political circus the Democratic Party was trying to avoid will happen. The party tried to pressure him to resign and then strictly limited the participation in their nominating caucus.

“You can call it Republican, Democrat, libertarian, vegetarian. Folks in the 74th District know the values that I stand for,” said Morrissey. ” The label that’s on me doesn’t change the tenacity and the manner in which I argue for the underdog in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Democrats, including Governor McAuliffe have urged Morrissey to remove himself from the public eye but Morrissey holds that his constituents should decide whether the allegations are disqualifying.

Despite Disagreements, Budget Talks Likely to be Smooth

The drama that has since surrounded the budget talks between Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly has ceased, reports The Washington Post.

Early bird budget fixes and a newly muted Medicaid push, and no threat of elections in 2015 looks like the budget negotiations to be much calmer than they have been in the previous months and there is little danger that partisan politics will derail the budget discussions.

“We certainly can come to an agreement, because that’s what the people want us to do,” said House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R- Colonial Heights).

Brian Coy, a spokesman for McAuliffe said: “I don’t think there’s anything in the governor’s budget proposal that would be just cause for bipartisan cooperation to just completely break down in Virginia government.”

Another Republican insider said, “If we don’t do anything this year,we’re okay with that.”

Panel Adopts Ideas for Redistricting

On Monday the government integrity panel created by Gov. Terry McAuliffe adopted recommendations for the overhaul of Virginia’s redistricting process, reports The Washington Post.

The panel hopes to amend the Virginia Constitution to create a separate commission which would redraw districts and pass a law that prohibits that commission from using election results to consider where to set boundaries.

Both of these measures will have to be approved by the legislature, which is going to be especially unlikely in the House, where many similar bills have died in committee. One proposal would need to be approved by voters.

In response to a recent ruling that declared Virginia’s congressional map unconstitutional, the panel reccommended that McAuliffe along with the general assembly work hand in hand to redraw the congressional districts.

“For the members of the legislature, this is a question of sheer political power,” said former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling (R) who co-chairs the panel with former congressman Rick Boucher (D). “The challenge is going to be trying to get the legislators to be willing to put people’s interest ahead of political interest or their own political interest.”

Democrats Pick Candidate For Morrissey’s Seat

Kevin J. Sullivan is the Democrats choice to run to replace disgraced Del. Joseph D. Morrissey in Virginia’s 74th House District, reports The Washington Post. 

Richmond Mayor and state Democratic Party chairman Dwight Jones said, “Sullivan’s experience in this community makes him a strong fighter for our Democratic values and priorities.

About 40 people participated in the primary out of 100 eligible Democratic committee members in the Richmond area. Twenty-four voted for Sullivan.

Sullivan is a retired brewery worker and Teamsters who now runs an alpaca farm with his wife. He won against Henrico County School Board member Lamont Bagby and former state delegate Floyd Miles Sr.

Morrissey, who will serve a six month sentence for the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, could still decide to run for his position as an independent, a decision he said he will be making in the next few days.

GOP Shoots Down McAuliffe’s Gun Restrictions

Virginia Republicans are not on board with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plan to limit who can buy a gun, reports The Washington Post.

His plan, which included the renewal of the state’s once-a-month limit on hand gun purchases and the requirement that buyers at gun shows undergo background checks, were met with praise from gun-control activists who celebrated his position on the polarizing issue.

Additionally, McAuliffe wanted to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of crimes related to domestic assault and taking away permits of parents who are behind on child support payments.

The General Assembly, which is Republican controlled, has shown no tolerance for restricting gun ownership. They say that this package, like McAuliffe’s work on abortion rights and climate change, panders to the left.

“The governor is a pure political animal and always has been,” said Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). “This is purely political play on his part. I font think he has any expectation that any of this is viable or defensible. He’s playing to his base on an election year issue that he wrongly believes resonates,” added Gilbert, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor.

McAuliffe, who revealed his plan a day after the second anniversary of Sandy Hook, is adamant about finding a compromise on this issue.

Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe said, “Keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and others prone to violence shouldn’t be a political issue, and it won’t become one as long as Virginia leaders put the safety of their constituents ahead of extreme, special interest politics.”

McAuliffe Expected to Present Package of Gun Restrictions.

According to The Washington Post, Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to release a package of gun restrictions, which is to include a renewal of the one-a-month limit on hand gun purchases, as well as the rule that background checks must be performed on buyers at gun  shows.

In addition to these already existing restrictions, McAuliffe is expected to propose that Virginia should keep people convicted of crimes related to domestic abuse away from guns, and that take back permits of people who are late on child-support payments.

The unveiling will come at a speech in Arlington County, just one day after the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

During his campaign last year McAuliffe openly fought for tighter gun control, veering from the message of other Democrats in Virginia. McAuliffe was able to take advantage of the state’s changing demographics and directed his messages of stricter gun control, as well as abortion rights and actions to stop climate change, to liberal and moderate voters.

McAuliffe will undoubtedly run into issue when it comes to convincing the Republican controlled General Assembly to give up any ground on issues pertaining to the Second Amendment. He is hoping that with the recent tragedies of Sandy Hook in 2012 and Virginia Tech in 2007, it would be hard to oppose the measures.

 

Probation Officers Recommend 10-12 Years for McDonnell

Under federal sentencing guidelines, former governor Bob McDonnell could face a prison sentence anywhere from 10 years and a month to 12 years, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

In a report filed Dec. 2 by a source who is familiar with the guidelines confirmed these sentences toThe Washington Post.

After a six-week federal trial a jury found McDonnell guilty of 11 corruption charges and his wife guilty of 9. However, since the end of the trial in September, a judge threw out one of the former first lady’s convictions bringing her total to 8.

As of now they recommendation laid out by the guidelines is still preliminary and is expected to be argued by both sides.

“I think most people were thinking 10 to 12 years when they looked at the guidelines for public corruption,” said Andrew G. McBride, a former federal prosecutor in Virginia and current defense lawyer. “I think there’s also kind of a consensus that that’s extremely high for the conduct involved here.”

The recommendations are determined by a complicated formula that takes into consideration the nature of the crime, the defendant’s background as well as other factors.

McDonnell’s Lawyers Now Tackle Page Counts

Bob McDonnell’s defense lawyers are not fighting for a page count on McDonnell’s sentencing memorandum, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. His lawyers have filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer to be allowed to surpass the 30-page limit on the memorandum.

“The government will likely ask for a very substantial prison sentence for conduct the defense submits is outside the heartland for public corruption cases,” McDonnell’s lawyers wrote.

The lawyers also claim that the extra pages are necessary to completely address “the entire life of the defendant.” They are seeking the ability to be able to file a 50-page memorandum on Dec. 23, the date which all of the parties are required to file their positions on sentencing. The U.S. attorney’s office remains opposed to the request.

“Mr. McDonnell stands before this court convicted of 11 felonies. He should be afforded no greater or lesser consideration from this court than an other defendants. As such, his motion that the court set aside the page limitations…for every other criminal defendant should be denied,” wrote the U.S. attorney’s office. They also argue that more than 30 pages of briefing is unnecessary.

Prosecutors also wrote, “Mr. McDonnell testified on direct examination, without objection from the Government, about the vast majority of his life, including: his parents’ background, times at high school, ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, military experience, law school experience, prosecutorial experience, experience as a private practice attorney, his children and siblings, his General Assembly experience, his campaigns for  Virginia attorney general and governor, his professional accomplishments as an elected official and his relationship with his wife.”

Prosecutors continue to defend the need for the extension in order to present ” a full analysis of the unusual factors that distinguish this case and this defendant from any other public-corruption case on record.”

McDonnell and his wife Maureen are set to be sentencing on Feb. 20, after they were convicted in September by a federal jury for accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from former StarScientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams, in exchange for promoting the company’s new dietary supplement.

Brian Moran is Panel’s Recommendation for Climate Coordinator

Brian Moran, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s secretary of public safety will add another job to his duties, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He will become Virginia’s first climate-change coordinator.

During a meeting on Friday at the College of William and Mary, the McAuliffe appointed state-climate commission voted in favor of recommending Moran for the job.

In an interview Moran said, “State government is very much engaged in this issue,” adding,”We are addressing this is a very broad and comprehensive fashion. We are reaching out to anyone including industry, who is willing to play a role in addressing this challenge.”

In the next few days Moran will be officially appointed, said a spokesperson for Governor McAuliffe.

Cale Jaffe, director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a member of the climate commission called Moran, “a fabulous choice,” citing his sound record on environmental and climate issues.

The climate commission on Friday was a part of a daylong meeting of government leaders and others concerned about costal flooding which is being caused by sea levels that are rising as a result of global warming.