Sitting across the table from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
This is Part Two of my hour-long interview with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last week (March 2012) in his Roanoke office.
Here he answers questions on Virginia’s portion of the home mortgage settlement award, Voter ID, UVA reimbursement and he gives Senate Democrats a kick for good measure.
Of the home mortgage settlement funds $66.5 million will go to the Commonwealth with over $400 million going directly to homeowners and those that have been foreclosed on said Cuccinelli. That includes homeowners underwater along with some help with refinancing or principal reduction.
Cuccinelli said he testified to the senate finance and house appropriations committees on the expected amount of the settlement. One Democrat on the house appropriations committe (he did not name) said, “this is too good to be true” regarding the $66.5 million for the state coffers. (Not sure what that was about.)
Though that money came to the Attorney General’s office he told the committees that “he was no longer a senator or an appropriator.” In other words they need to take charge of designating where the $66.5 million was to be spent. “Most other AG’s are essentially getting the court to spend the money the way the AG wants [it spent,]” he said.
At the recent associate of NAAGs (National Association of Attorney Generals) Cuccinelli told them that “under my constitution I am not an appropriator – the general assembly is the appropriator.” So that is what he laid out to the committees. “Other Attorney Generals are end running it in their states,” he said. “I’m not going to do that.”
He said he has preached for too long that everyone should stay in their box constitutionally.
With the list of Democrat budget demands in my hand Cuccinelli pointed to them saying, “Please don’t think they mean any of that.” The real reason for the spat he said was “about committee assignments but they can’t write a letter and say that. My four-year-old behaves like that,” he said.
It’s “gimme my chairmanship, gimme my chairmanship or I’m going to hold my breath and I’m not going to vote for the budget,” he said talking like his four-year-old. (At this point I’m trying to contain myself from laughing too hard – you don’t usually get such bluntness from a politician with gubernatorial aspirations.)
“The letter is a complete smokescreen,” he said.
The senate finance committee was informed that the settlement was coming and so “[Democrats] just sat down one day and said hey what are the things we can demand … this is not an honest list [of demands],” said Cuccinelli.
However since talking to Cuccinelli Tuesday that money has been earmarked for more funding in K-12 and pre-K programs in the reworked budget that came out of the senate conferee session Thursday.
On Democrat’s demands to reimburse $576,000 to the University of Virginia Cuccinelli claimed that UVA didn’t spend a penny in legal fees in defending itself against his demand and lawsuit for climate documents and emails. It was all privately raised funds he claimed.
“Why on earth shouldn’t one part of the state government be able to see documents from another part. Would the legislators be happy if UVA wouldn’t give them budget information? Can you imagine? That’s actually a good way to think about it,” declared Cuccinelli.
“I’m an alumni and I seem to remember they have an honor system – apparently it doesn’t apply to the administration,” he said. “They lied and said they don’t have these documents when they got a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act request from him).”
On the Voter ID bill passed by both houses he said “there is absolutely nothing about it that is unconstitutional. That doesn’t mean the DOJ (Department of Justice) won’t give us a hard time over it. There’s a decent chance they will after what I’ve seen them do to other states,” he said.
It’s not a photo ID law like other states – a utility bill will do he said. Items proving identification were added when the bill came out of the senate. “Our list is longer than of the other states that the DOJ has tried to reject as a matter of preclearance.” It was his opinion though that the DOJ didn’t have a right to block the other states either.
Cuccinelli claimed there was a Supreme Court case written on it by a “real right-winger named John Paul Stevens” – that was a joke he said as I looked at him puzzled. “He’s a flaming left-winger,” he giggled. Stevens, he said, wrote the majority opinion of an Indiana case that says, “voter ID laws are perfectly constitutional. The DOJ is just harassing some of these states he said.
He was unsure if the DOJ would harass Virginia because the state goes below the level of a government ID. In addressing voter fraud he declared that “the lower the turnout the more valuable the fraud” when it comes to affecting the outcome of an election.
Cuccinelli says he is “a big fan of clarity” and supports Governor McDonnell’s efforts to formulate regulations for uranium mining. Not pressing the issue is smart.
** PART III will talk about the “F” Virginia received by The Center for Public Integrity, campaign finance and more amusing quips.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Politics, State Politics
Tags: attorney_general, cuccinelli, legislators, republican