Virginia Looks to Sue Bank for Defrauding Taxpayers

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that Virginia is planning to sue some of the largest commerical banks in the world, including Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs & Co. among others, for committing fraud against taxpayers that led to the bursting of the real estate bubble and the country’s recession.

Attorney General Mark R. Herring said that “Banks were packaging mortgages into securities or bundles of mortgages at a breakneck pace, selling them off to investors as a sturdy, solid, top-rated investments that would continue to rise in value.”

However, many of these deals were sub-prime loans and in the rush to sell more and more of these securities many of the commercial banks lied about the quality of the mortgages.

Herring’s office also released that these securities started to be bought in 2004 and just 6 years later in 2010 Virginia was forced to sell these “toxic” securities resulting in the loss of $383 million.

All of the information regarding the lawsuit was kept secret until Tuesday due to the Fraud Against Taxpayers act, but now the accused banks have the chance to respond to the accusation and negotiate terms for a possible settlement.

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Appellate Court to Rule on Same Sex Marriage

Photo courtesy of www.voanews.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.voanews.com

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will most likely rule on a federal case concerning gay marriage by the end of the month, according to an article published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Bostic v. Rainey case involves a gay couple who filed a complaint after being denied a marriage license by a local circuit court clerk in Norfolk. The court in Richmond heard oral arguments for the case on May 13, nearly two months ago. It is the fastest court of appeals in the U.S. with an average time interval from argument to opinion in nonexpedited appeals of 2.2 months, according to Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. In spite of this, the judges are struggling to reach a decision, particularly in light of the major ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 25 that struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. The judges in Richmond must read through the majority and dissenting opinions of that case in order to create an informed ruling that will ultimately affect Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Attorney General Mark R. Herring supported the plaintiffs by urging the court to expedite the ruling “because every day the ban is in effect is another day when thousands of Virginians’ fundamental right to marry is denied,” said Herring’s spokesperson, Michael Kelly.

Attorney General Declares ‘dreamers’ Eligible for In-State Tuition

Mark R. Herring

Mark R. Herring

Last week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced that some immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought to the state as children can qualify for in-state tuition rates under existing law.

Herring made the announcement at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus to a room of Latino students, immigration activists and education officials.

“We should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade,” Herring said.

Herring’s move builds on Obama’s decision to allow thousands of immigrants to remain in the country. Virginia students who are lawfully in the country qualify for in-state tuition rates under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Herring’s decision instantly made college more affordable for more than 8,000 young immigrants. For affected students, securing in-state tuition rates would remove a substantial financial burden for many families. At the University of Virgnia, tuition for in-state resident students is $12,998. Out-of-state costs more than triple the in-state costs, coming in at $42,184.

More details on Herring’s ‘dreamers’ plan is available at the Washington Post.

New AG Mark Herring Drops Marriage Equality Bomb on Virginia

Herring for Attorney General

Attorney General Mark Herring

This morning, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced he does not believe the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional and will no longer defend the law in court, according to the New York Times.

Herring’s decision comes after federal court rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that struck down laws forbidding same-sex marriages in those states. This is a marked shift from Virginia’s previously conservative position on marriage equality.

This morning, Herring spokesman Michael Kelly said the attorney general’s office planned to file a brief in Norfolk (where a challenge to the ban is being heard) to notify the court of the state’s decision.

“The Commonwealth will side with the plaintiffs in seeking to have the ban declared unconstitutional,” Mr. Kelly said in an email according to the New York Times.

“While Virginia has a storied place in the founding of our nation and has contributed to the development of our democracy, it has also been on the wrong side of court cases involving school desegregation, interracial marriage, and state-supported single-sex education,” Mr. Kelly said. He said Mr. Herring planned to say at a news conference Thursday morning, “It’s time for Virginia to be on the right side of the law, and the right side of history.”

Who Paid for the Attorney General Recount, Anyway?

If you’re subscribed to recieve emails from either attorney general candidate or candidate’s biggest supporters, you’ve likely seen requests to contribute to the recount fund.

The Daily Press in Hampton Roads calculated the donations and found that Mark Obenshain (R) lead Mark Herring (D) by a huge margin in fundraising for the recount.

The Daily Press’s chart can be found here.

Attorney General Race Recount Begins

mark+obenshain+mark+herringMark Herring’s (D) 165-vote win headed to a recount yesterday. A total of 133 localities will recount a total of 2.2 million votes cast last month in the statewide election to determine the winner of the attorney general’s race. Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria began yesterday morning at 7 a.m.; all other localities began this morning.

On November 27, Republican attorney general candidate Mark D. Obenshain requested a recount of the votes due to the very tight margin of Herring’s win. However, recounts don’t usually change the outcomes, according to University of Virginia Center for Politics head Larry Sabato.

Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sabato says, “A recount is an extension of the political wars after the election night armistice. The stakes are very high for both parties, plus the candidates, their staffs, and families are exhausted by the long campaign and now the overtime process.”

By the end of the week, Virginia can breathe a sigh of relief and know that the statewide elections have been officially decided and all ballots are counted.

Obenshain Denies Decision to Involve General Assembly in Attorney General Race

Mark D. Obenshain (R) dismissed the idea that he has already decided to ask the General Assembly to step into the attorney general race, according to The Washington Post.

Obenshain had previously raised the possibility of asking the General Assembly to step in after next week’s recount. However, contesting the election through the General Assembly would be a step that has never been taken in a statewide race in modern Virginia history.

The Washington Post also reports that Obenshain is unlikely to try unless his campaign can make a case of huge irregularities in the election process. The option would be even less appealing for Democrat Mark Herring, given the Republican dominance in the legislature.

The Recount is Official

mark+obenshain+mark+herring

It’s been a month since Election Day in Virginia and the recount date of the attorney general’s race has been officially set for December 16th and 17th. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals granted the first day as an early start for Fairfax County, due to the size of the county and set up of its voting system. The rest of the state will begin the process the following day.

Republican Mark Obenshain lost the race to Democrat Mark Herring by 163 votes, making it one of the closest races in the state’s history. Obenshain originally requested that the recount be closer to Christmas but the judge did not want it to interfere with the holiday. Recounts usually take between two to three days. Now, it should be able to wrap up by Dec. 20th.

There are still many flaws in the voting system and Obenshain’s attorneys have requested that all secured poll books be unsealed in order to prevent any distortion. Herring’s team disputes the request out of concern for security if the documents are left open.

In an article published by NBC 12, Herring’s attorney, Kevin J. Hamilton, said, “Right now, the poll books are in a vault, inaccessible to the public. Poll books are also not relevant in a recount, only votes count.”

Both sides are also arguing about the use of cell phones and cameras and whether or not they should be allowed into the booth with the voter. There are technicalities that need to be ironed out before the recount and hopefully it will be as fair as possible.

Republicans Enter Race for Senate Vacancy

As of Monday, state Senator Mark Herring is the certified new attorney general of Virginia. Barring any recount drama from Mark Obenshain, Herring will leave a vacancy in Virginia’s senate.

Herndon resident Ron Meyer, 24, has announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the empty Loudon County seat. Meyer is a public relations professional who contributes conservative political analysis to Fox News. Jon Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party’s 10th Congressional District Committee, announced his candidacy Monday.

Both candidates stress their continued support for Mark Obenshain, Herring’s opponent.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Mark Herring Wins Attorney General Race, Officially

As of yesterday afternoon, Democrat Mark Herring came out on top in the extremely close and dramatic attorney general race. Out of 2.2 million votes cast, Herring won by only a mere 165 votes over Republican Mark Obenshain.

Obenshain has made no moves towards filing for a recount yet, but we will not be surprised if that’s what he decides to do. According to the Augusta Free Press, this is the closest political race in Virginia’s history, making it highly unlikely that Obenshain will take the loss without a fight.

Obenshain commented, “Margins this small are why Virginia law provides a process for a recount. However, a decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly. Virginia law allows 10 days to request a recount. We will make further announcements regarding a recount well within that time, in order to ensure the closure and confidence in the results that Virginians deserve.”

He has 10 days to file for a recount before he would have to take the loss to Herring. This has been a very hectic political season for Virginia, to say the least.