Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Attorney General Mark Herring in Roanoke – stay tuned says a senator

Attorney General Mark Herring

Attorney General Mark Herring

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring made a stop at the Roanoke Country Club today for a luncheon put together by former Senator Granger MacFarlane.  He covered his first six months in office and answered questions from the polite audience – but a hard question needed answering.

Is there a way Governor Terry McAuliffe can legally and by executive order bring Medicaid expansion to Virginia. That is to say without the Republican controlled General Assembly’s hardnosed stance against it.

Herring grinned saying he knew I had to ask the question – it being my job and all. The question to me had nothing to do with my job really. Doesn’t everyone want to know this?

His answer, though he skirted around it, said a lot to me. “I’m probably not in the position to be able to comment publicly,” he answered. He went on to say how many Virginians are waiting to be covered by the expansion of Medicaid, the jobs it will bring and the federal funding that won’t get returned to the State.

Ann MacFarlane and Senator John Edwards

Ann MacFarlane and Senator John Edwards

There are “very serious consequences that will flow from not embracing Medicaid expansion  – so we’re going to keep working on it,” said Herring. Senator John Edwards said he had talked with the governor that morning and to “stay tuned.”  <intrigue>

Senator Phil Puckett’s sudden resignation and the brouhaha that followed leave conspiracy theories still hanging like the smell of rotting fruit. Senate Republicans pushed back on appointing Puckett’s daughter, Martha P. Ketron, to a full six-year judgeship to a juvenile court. Sitting legislators could not have family members appointed they said.

Was there some other reason besides his daughter’s judgeship?

Was there a verbal deal for a Puckett appointment to the Tobacco Commission by Delegate Terry Kilgore. Kilgore hastily called a meeting of the commission only to cancel it later under heavy suspicion?  Puckett took his name off the table wanting to maintain his legacy. Unless there is recoverable evidence that there was a quid pro quo that question will remain sealed in secrecy.

Puckett’s resignation cleared the way for Ketron’s confirmation to the bench. Social media and armchair pundits say she will always have a cloud hanging over her judgeship.

Herring had his work cut out for him when he finally took office. After a very long election recount he eked out a win by a few hundred votes over his opponent, Republican Senator Mark Obenshain.

Carrol Swain, Linda Wyatt, Alvin Hudson. Rev. E.T. Burton

Carrol Swain, Linda Wyatt, Alvin Hudson. Rev. E.T. Burton

Who says elections don’t matter and their vote doesn’t count? Herring began a quick turnaround of all the more radical policies of the former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Herring said he was surprised at the disorganization and outdated operation of the Attorney General Office. “I was really shocked to see the state and condition of our systems and operations internally.” He is in the process of modernizing. “It will take some time,” he said realizing how complicated technology integration can be – new software leading to a new operating system to needing new servers. In the end the office will be more efficient and save taxpayer dollars he said.

As he repeated at every campaign stop Herring kept his promise to have a team of legal experts analyze the law  on whether Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was constitution. There are two lawsuits pending that could eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mike Hamlar, Byron Hamlar w/Linda Wyatt

Mike Hamlar, Byron Hamlar w/Linda Wyatt

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states.  The court dismissed the case that asked the court to overturn a lower-court decision striking down the California marriage law (Prop 8)..

These SCOTUS decisions added to Herring determining that his office would not defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. Too often Virginia has been on the wrong side of civil rights said Herring.

Legally domiciled youth can now attend State colleges on in-state tuition. These students brought to the U.S. and Virginia by immigrants are like every other student said Herring.

Herring also said he stepped up in support of the Chesapeake clean-up plan. He will always “be in support of clean air and clean water and protecting [Virginia’s] great natural resources.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events, Politics, State Politics

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Comments (1)


[…] Herring on June 10 said he was surprised at the disorganization and outdated operation of the Attorney General Office. “I was really shocked to see the state and condition of our systems and operations internally.” He is in the process of modernizing. “It will take some time,” he said realizing how complicated technology integration can be – new software leading to a new operating system to needing new servers. In the end the office will be more efficient and save taxpayer dollars he said. […]

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