Politics / Virginia

Delegates & Senators ask AG Cuccinelli to resign

Democratic members of the General Assembly have sent a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli asking him to resign. The letter below says Virginia deserves a full-time AG.

Virginia Democratic House Caucus
1710 E Franklin St.
Richmond, VA, 23223

The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli
Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Dear Attorney General Cuccinelli,

As people who, like you, were elected to serve the families of this great Commonwealth to the best of our ability, we write to you today to convey a pressing concern about your stated plan to remain in your office even as the demands of your campaign for Governor of Virginia increase over the course of this year.

As you well know, nearly every attorney general over the past several decades (including each of the last six), have faced the same choice you face now and determined that running for governor is not compatible with honoring his or her commitment to the people of Virginia to faithfully execute the duties of the office you now hold.

As he announced his resignation, former Governor and Attorney General Jim Gilmore said, “I have concluded an office of this importance should have no part-time campaigners.”

Another Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said of his similar decision, “Virginia needs an attorney general who can fully focus on this office, it’s the right thing to do.”

Finally, before his resignation, our current Governor Robert McDonnell said, “The office is a very difficult job. It demands a full-time attorney general to do the hard work that’s required.”

The hard work that’s required of the attorney general to keep Virginians safe, protect consumers and small businesses, and offer sound legal counsel and representation to state government demands more than a part-time commitment. That is why we write to you today to ask respectfully that you resign your office in order to ensure that Virginians will have an attorney general who is focused full-time on putting their best interests first.

At the heart of our request is what’s right for the people we all serve. If running the state’s law firm were not a position that required full-time attention, the people of Virginia would not be asked to proffer the resources to allow you and your staff to work full time without other income. Seeing however that they do pay the Attorney General a full-time salary, they deserve a full-time commitment to the affairs they hired you to conduct.

None of the undersigned would begrudge you the right to seek the governor’s office this year. Nor would they disagree that your interests are best served by running a vigorous campaign that includes an aggressive travel schedule, hours devoted to meeting Virginians and raising money and any other activity that you deem necessary to achieve your goal. Many Virginians, included we who write you today, would however object to you performing those activities at the expense of the position with which the taxpayers have entrusted you.

It is our hope that you will consider our earnest request to follow the example of your predecessors of both parties and turn the responsibilities of your office over to someone who can give them his or her undivided attention. The role of the Attorney General is too significant, and the challenges we face together as a Commonwealth are too great to allow the demands of your campaign for Governor to overrun the needs of the Virginians we all serve.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Louise Lucas

Senator Mamie Locke

Senator Ralph Northam

Senator Adam Ebbin

David J. Toscano
House Democratic Leader

Mark Sickles
House Democratic Caucus Chair

Delegate Ken Plum

Delegate Robert Brink

Delegate Jennifer McClellan

Delegate Charniele Herring

Delegate Scott Surovell

Delegate Patrick Hope

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7 thoughts on “Delegates & Senators ask AG Cuccinelli to resign

  1. All Democrats. No big surprise there, I suppose.

    It sure would be a shame if Democrats in the General Assembly were trying to undo the 2009 election result that didn’t go their way (“If a vacancy occurs in the office of Attorney General during the session of the General Assembly, the General Assembly shall fill the vacancy by a majority vote of the total membership.”). But I’m sure that thought didn’t even cross their minds. Much better to pressure Cuccinelli to step down early since we just know that the General Assembly will agree on who should succeed him in no time flat. I mean, to do otherwise would deprive the citizens of the Commonwealth of the full-time AG that they deserve for their tax dollars, right?

    • Every time the AG has resigned, his chosen successor was approved by the GA. And given the Republican majorities in both houses, whomever Cuccinelli would pick would be appointed. (Note that was the case even in 2009, when McDonnell resigned. The Democrats had control of the Senate and still approved the person he wanted.)

      Sometimes, it’s not about politics at all.

      • “Sometimes, it’s not about politics at all.”

        Which is why only Democrats signed the letter, I suppose? Sometimes those who are the most adamant that “it’s not about politics” are saying so because of how obvious it is that it’s actually about politics. Having read your columns for more than a few years now, I know you’re an astute enough political observer to know that.

        I know you also remember how last year Democrats used the threat of a stalled Senate to try to extract concessions on committee seats because the Republicans only have a majority when you count the vote of the Lieutenant Governor. Given that Senate Democrats have already proven their willingness to use the tie to try to put pressure on their Republican counterparts I’m not quite so ready to dismiss the possibility of partisan gridlock as you are. Although, on the other hand, it might be interesting to see if the bad blood between Bolling and Cuccinelli has reached the point at which Bolling would vote against Cuccinelli’s preferred replacement.

        • I’ve already seen rank & file Republicans say that Cuccinelli should resign. The politics are such that no sitting Republican legislator dare say out loud what they say privately. That’s the political part, not the request that he resign.

          All the pressure in the world can’t make up for the votes, as Senate Democrats found out last year. Plus, as I said, the Dems were in charge and approved McDonnell’s replacement. But if it came down to a party line vote, I don’t see Bolling voting against it just to spite Cuccinelli. There’s bad blood between the two, no doubt. But I don’t believe he’d take that out on the replacement. Bolling has been a company man far too long.

          • Now you’re just proving my point. If you’re reasonably confident that Republicans want Cuccinelli to resign but won’t say so (a point I’ll grant for the sake of discussion), I think you’d agree with me that Democrats in the GA have have at least the same (if not more and better) information. In addition, I know you’re not so naive as to think that Cuccinelli will see this letter and say to himself, “Golly, I wasn’t going to resign, but now that I’ve seen this letter, I can see that these Democrats have nothing but the best intentions and are only out for the good of the people of the Commonwealth. I suppose I ought to go ahead and resign right now.” The people who signed this letter aren’t that naive either; they know their letter will not affect the outcome.

            That means (if your claim about GA Republicans is true) everyone who signed this letter knows two things: (1) the letter will have no effect on Cuccinelli’s decision and (2) because of intra-party politics Republicans will defer on the issue of Cuccinelli’s resignation. Knowing both of those things to be the case, the only logical conclusion (in the absence of partisan blinders) is that those who signed this letter knew there were political points to be scored and they took the opportunity. “Republicans can’t (or won’t) speak up, so we have a clear field of fire. We can score political points for being the Responsible, Serious Adults in the room. who put politics aside on issues of great importance, without any of the risk of political fallout.”

            This is exactly the kind of two-faced, petty nonsense that everyone is sick of when it comes to politics. You’re an astute enough political observer that I’m surprised you don’t see what’s really going on here.

  2. Sounds like a silly argument to me. Why is running for the governorship any harder than running for the presidency? Don’t we need a full-time president?

    Then shouldn’t the president resign while he is running for re-election?

  3. I’ve always thought this to be a stupid practice, and I’m glad to see Cuccinelli defying it. We elect an AG for four years, and resigning to run for Governor makes no more sense than promising not to run for Governor if this were to be expected. And I say this as someone who would have supported Bolling, had he stayed in the race.

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