Posts by Mike Signer
I recently received a response from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to my Freedom of Information Act request for records pertaining to any involvement of his office with his campaign for governor. Please find below my own response. The long and the short of it is that Cuccinelli is proposing that my records will cost a total of $3,677 to provide, on the basis of high (and completely discretionary) hourly charges of up to $54 per hour. I've responded by questioning the basis of these fees and narrowing the scope of my FOIA request somewhat -- you can see more in the letter below. If you'd like to help defray the costs of this FOIA, it would be much appreciated -- you can donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/page/newdominionproject?refcode=website.
Like so many others, I was surprised when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli decided to stay in office while running for governor. And I was concerned when I heard that he has not been forthcoming in response to public concerns about whether, in directing both the Office of Attorney General and a campaign for governor, taxpayer funds are possibly supporting his campaign. When I served as counsel to then-Governor Warner, I frequently worked on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. These are a crucial tool for citizens to hold their government accountable -- for sunlight, rather than darkness, to be the rule of the land. Our FOIA requirements are very strict -- the office must respond within five days, and may have an extension of seven more days, but must fully respond after that time. The agency may not charge extra fees to provide copies of records, and they also must provide direct access to the records themselves. Today, I sent a FOIA request to the Attorney General to release several sets of very specific records in three categories -- his schedule, his reimbursements, and his email correspondence with campaign organizations. You can read the full letter below. I will keep everyone updated on what I hear from the Office of the Attorney General. Mike
The Office of Attorney General in Virginia is a powerful institution for both good and ill. I’ve worked with the Office for many years, as counsel to then-Governor Mark Warner, as a voting rights attorney, and in my own private practice working with growing Virginia companies. I’ve been deeply concerned by Ken Cuccinelli’s abuse of the office’s powers, which I have spoken about often through the New Dominion Project PAC.
Today, there's news of more troubling legal conduct from our Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. Several weeks ago, General Cuccinelli attempted to veto the Board of Health's decision to grandfather in existing abortion clinics from new regulations designed to shut them down, by refusing to "certify" the Board's action. Tomorrow, the Board is holding its first hearing since this action from the Attorney General. The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that Cuccinelli is threatening Board of Health members that they could be denied state legal counsel and have to pay for their own defense if they refuse to comply with his decision.
We returned late last night from an incredibly inspiring time in Charlotte. I had to be back in Arlington today for meetings, so missed last night's speeches, but the prior two days -- especially the speeches by Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama -- were epic.
Virginia holds an extraordinary place in the history of democracy. We gave the world some of history's most powerful ideas about how people could truly be free, and we watch today as those ideas reverberate around the globe. Here at home, we have seen a battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. The same Commonwealth that could elect Doug Wilder governor was also the home of Massive Resistance. The same Commonwealth that saw Governor Linwood Holton fight to end segregation also was home to the Byrd Machine.
"Over a year ago, I argued here at NDP that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should fail because it lacked standing through subject matter jurisdiction. Last fall, the Fourth Circuit struck down Cuccinelli’s lawsuit on exactly these grounds. Today's Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA further rejects Cuccinelli's approach. "Cuccinelli has always seemed more interested in serving special interests and the radical right than Virginia’s hard-working families. This was poor, ideological lawyering that did not befit Virginia’s fine legal traditions. While Cuccinelli has refused to reveal exactly how much money he wasted suing over the ACA, we know one thing for certain: his costly, heavy-handed, and ineffective lawyering belongs in the dustbin of history.”
There is great news today that the UVA Board of Visitors has reversed its awful decision from two weeks ago and reinstated President Sullivan. Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia when he was almost 80 years old. In a report to the UVA's Commissioners in 1819, he said that among his primary goals in founding the University was “to form the statesmen, legislators and judges, on whom public prosperity and individual happiness are so much to depend.” A broader, almost spiritual ambition arcs arced over Jefferson's very practical goals. Jefferson told a friend in 1820 that UVA would help America achieve its own potential: “This institution of my native state, the hobby of my old age,” he said, “will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation.” Pursuing the "illimitable freedom of the human mind" is still the University's goal, and so it was a great step forward that a narrow-minded, opaque, and short-sighted coup was overturned today, in favor of a President who has demonstrated nothing but a deep and profound commitment toward this historic university's most true design.
Virginia is above what just happened this week in Richmond, where an openly gay prosecutor who used his freedom of speech to challenge a federal law that ultimately was struck down by Congress was penalized by a legislative body for those facts. Add to this the fact that Tracy Thorne-Beglund was a former Navy fighter pilot, and insult becomes injury. Let's get this straight: a combat veteran and successful prosecutor wanted to be a judge. He had broad bipartisan support. Virginia is the birthplace of the freedom of speech and the freedom of association -- absolute freedoms that go to the heart of our God-given liberties and our stature as a land of limitless potential.
With apologies to my Massachusetts-born wife, Virginia is the birthplace of American democracy. We are also the birthplace of American democracy's greatest abuses, such as Massive Resistance. That's why it's so fitting that we have become, in a year when America will decide whether to re-elect out first African-American president, the most "swingy" state, in the words of a recent CNN article. Nothing is easy here, but I've always felt that's why Democratic victories in Virginia usually offer the most robust path forward for Democrats nationally. The same is true for the opposite side as well. Bob McDonnell is actively positioning himself for the Republican vice-presidential nomination. Perhaps with a little too much saliva -- I really have never seen anything like his expensive new TV commercials that seek to re-brand himself before his own constituents as a successful governor. Usually, for governors, actions speak for themselves -- not advertising and PR campaigns paid for by your donors. But actions are louder than words, none more so than the decision McDonnell faces soon about whether to veto the bill passed by the farthest-right of his legislative colleagues to require IDs from anyone voting.