Republican Takeover is Unravelling

The Richmond Times Dispatch has recently released documents showing that there is more to Senator Puckett’s recent resignation which flipped control of the Senate over to the Republican’s than was previously known. On Thursday, May 29th, Interim Tobacco Commission Executive Director Tim Pfohl wrote to commission staffer Ned Stephenson, “If you’re in tomorrow Terry would like us to call Puckett to discuss what kind of role he might like with w/ Commission,”

Then, on Friday, May 30, he sent Puckett this “Phillip: Chairman Kilgore has asked Ned and I to reach out to you to discuss potential roles(s) for you as an employee of the Commission…..Terry has asked us to speak to you when you’re available.

On June 5, Pfohl emailed Stephenson and other commission staffers: Terry asked that this morning we send Phillip our thoughts on the issue we discussed,” Later that night Pfohl sent this email to Puckett with the subject line: “Today’s directive from Terry K.” In that letter, he discussed “….what’s being planned on our end to give this the most defensible appearance of a due process,” apparently he was becoming concerned with how Puckett’s acceptance of a job with the commission would be perceived in light of his decision to resign.

He also he felt the need to contact Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones to let him know what was happening. He also asked Puckett if he had informed Gov. Terry McAuliffe about his plans.

As this influence peddling scheme continues to unfold, it should become apparent that the web of connections between the Tobacco Commission, Senator Puckett, and House “fixer” Terry Kilogore extends further than the usual list of suspects in Virginia’s General assembly. It includes connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council, high powered Richmond law firms, and campaign contributions.

Should we apply a “3 degrees” connection standard to this affair, similar to what the NSA uses in their searches for links between terrorists, what we would find is there is indeed a connection between these events and what is happening elsewhere in Virginia and around the country. The scope of these actions is if not in fact, but certainly in intent – is the very definition of RICO like activities.

Everything associated with the states manufactured budget crisis has been about Republicans denying the ACA nationally and Medicaid expansion in Virginia by any means possible. It’s been common knowledge for several weeks that the Governor is looking for ways to bring Medicaid expansion to Virginia, including working out a direct grant with the President. Which is probably why House Speaker John Boehner felt the need to get out ahead of this when he recently announced he’s going to “sue” the President for unspecified “executive actions” and when asked by a reporter which ones, he snidely replied, “When I make that decision, I’ll let you know

Then there’s Speaker Howell’s behind the scenes and direct hands on involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a so called no-profit organization which is clandestinely back by business interests, including the Koch Brothers. Speaker Howells involvement in ALEC includes; killing Medicaid expansion in Virginia, and heading up their national “Prodigal Son” project. A project designed to further enhance Republican monolithic control of the countries political process, enhancing their complete control of 27 state legislatures, and partial control of another 4 state legislative bodies.

This project intends to use the same process they used to take control of State legislatures to seize control of local County boards and town councils here in Virginia and in other states around the country, giving them nearly complete control of the levers of political power.

Followed by his directing the House Clerk’s Office to hire Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under the previous Bush administration as a “special legal consultant” to search for ways to contest the Governor’s constitutional ability to implement Medicaid expansion, cloaking it as necessary to resolve an unspecified “constitutional” issue, all on the on the taxpayer’s dime.

No to mention that his dumping of the states budget in the foyer of Governors office was nothing more than a mean spirited and clandestine attempt to speed up the clock. Knowing full well that the Governors office was closed over that Father’s day weekend, it was nothing more than a ham fisted attempt to pressure the Governor into conceding Medicaid expansion to the Republicans.

Given Speakers Howell’s influence over everything that happens in Virginia’s legislature, it defies the imagination to think that any Republican efforts to seize control of the State Senate, thus blocking Medicaid expansion couldn’t have happened without his knowledge.

Wait until the public becomes better informed about the findings of the Grand Jury session, and possibly some of these as of yet undisclosed connections. We might see some of the more ardent practitioners of the “Virginia Way” get their just deserts.

Jon Taylor

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