Cuccinelli Speaks to the Issues

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Ken Cuccinelli

by Valerie Garner

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli first saw the printed copy of the Center for Public Integrity corruption report that gave Virginia an “F” during an interview with the Roanoke Star-Sentinel two weeks ago. He dismissed the grade questioning how could Internal Audit receive an “A” but receive an “F” overall.

He rebuked it calling the center a George Soros organization. “They can call it what they want but they have an agenda,” he said. “Nonetheless, I think some of the things they point out are legitimate areas of concern.”

As a senator he tried to make improvements. “It’s awkward to run for governor and say I’m going to police [legislators]. They need to do it themselves.”

The Open Society Foundation (a George Soros supported foundation for liberal causes) is one of 50 donors to the center. This was confirmed in a call to Randy Barrett communications director for the center. Barrett firmly stressed that they were “staunchly nonpartisan.”

Transparency: 

In 2009, prior to his election to Attorney General, Cuccinelli spoke at the annual Virginia Coalition for Open Government in Staunton. “Whoever controls the information has more power,” he said then and repeated again two weeks ago.

The budget could be more transparent but financing an antiquated computer system is the problem. “I believe that there are people who prefer a muddled, lousy budget information system because less people can understand it and that smaller number of people are in a stronger position of control.”

Campaign finance as a part of transparency:

With a question regarding the State Board of Elections being a “toothless tiger” he said, “it is fair to call them a toothless tiger. They don’t have any manpower for policing and they don’t have any legal authority.”

There are two ways to look at this from an investigative standpoint, said Cuccinelli. “You can either have a low threshold for suspicion but you police it more vigorously or you have this really high standard where you don’t even look essentially until somebody basically brings you a criminal case and drops it in your lap.”

“I think we are far more the latter,” he said. “I don’t think that is an ideal way to operate. I don’t think it encourages trust by the people of Virginia”

Cuccinelli agreed that “it was a legitimate concern” that there was no law saying a legislator couldn’t use money from their campaign coffers for personal use like paying relatives or going on vacation.

Caps on donations:

Virginia has no caps on campaign contributions and Cuccinelli is OK with that but if there were caps he said the cap should be very high. “I’d have a real problem picking some line to reign in first amendment rights.”

Cuccinelli believed his fundraising would benefit with caps because of his large number of small donors. “We absolutely dust [the Lt. Governor] in terms of small donors,” he said.

“It’s just free speech and I’ve been outspent in four races and I’ve won all four. Would I like to outspend an opponent some day? I would. If I’m going to be running against Terry McAuliffe (the expected Democratic gubernatorial nominee) the odds are it’s not going to be this race,” he said.

Judges:

“There is nothing perfect,” when it comes to legislative selection of judges. He believes judges should have terms and not life appointments. “It gets you the best combination of accountability and insulation that you can have.”

As a Fairfax senator Cuccinelli focused on judges coming up for reappointment. “Not that I was out to get them or anything but I wanted to make sure they were working hard … moving cases through at a reasonable clip and that they were judging consistently and intelligently.”

Judges’ reviews are kept private. “We need to hold judges accountable and if they don’t like people seeing their job reviews then don’t be a judge,” he said.

Elections – President and U.S. Senate:

Cuccinelli wouldn’t divulge who he voted for in the Republican primary. He will pull for whoever is the eventual Republican nominee. “I’ve organized several of my fellow attorney generals to gather up all the information on all the lawbreaking the President [Obama] and his administration has done.”

“Virginia’s ballot was embarrassing quite frankly,” said Cuccinelli. “It just points out what a terrible system we have. I watch TV returns and though I love this stuff even I’m getting a little bored, “ he laughed.

He took a swipe at the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Tim Kaine, saying that as DNC chair he was the Democrats’ attack dog, raised taxes, tried to send the double murderer, Jens Soering, back to Germany. He recounted the abusive driver fee fiasco. “Remember the explosion that caused?” he said.

“That even upset Charlottesville, how does a liberal upset Charlottesville? They think Ho Chi Minh is a right-winger,” he said while laughing. He explained that was intended to be a dig at UVA professors and that Soaring was a former student there.