Richard Martin Reporting

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said that he was open to legalizing medical marijuana in his state during a radio interview on Wednesday. He added that he was “not there yet” on legalizing pot for all adults, a formulation that indicates the famously savvy governor knows which direction the issue is headed and is leaving himself the option of moving that way.

Appearing on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, McAuliffe said that he supported legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, but that he didn’t think a bill supporting such a measure would pass the Virginia legislature anytime soon.

“I’ve supported the issue of medical marijuana for issues of people that it could help medically. I certainly would look at that, I think we ought to look at that,” McAuliffe said. “I think a couple members of the General Assembly have talked about it, but listen, it’s an issue I know the General Assembly has not taken up. And when it gets to my desk clearly I would evaluate it and listen.”

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~ The Huffington Post

There’s an old saw from the Democratic former governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards, about how the only thing that can tank your political aspirations is being found with a dead girl or a live boy. Edwards should know: he’s currently running for Congress after serving eight years on 17 charges for criminal corruption. Of all people, Edwin Edwards is probably enjoying the spectacle of various current and former GOP governors spinning through a lazy Susan of unappetizers and then spilling dip all over themselves.

Real scandal is back. How deliciously retro.

If you like to watch scandals – and I mean really watch them, like you would a soap opera – there’s nothing better than Christian conservative Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia. McDonnell is currently on trial for 14 counts of public corruption, and the jury could start deliberations this weekend. But McDonnell has managed to make the trial seem like a convoluted prelude to the revelation that, throughout the proceedings, he’s been living, while separated from his wife, with a priest who got busted for cruising dudes in parking lots.

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~ The Guardian

Like many Virginians, Sen. Tim Kaine finds the trial of fellow former Gov. Bob McDonnell a real downer.

“The whole thing has been really sad. There’s just nothing good to come out of it. I do think the ethical laws in Virginia are way too lax,” he said when asked about the trial during his visit to the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding.

“We’ve got to repair our reputation a little bit after this,” he said.

Kaine said one approach that might help is the one the U.S. Senate has adopted.

“In the Senate, there is an ethics office and you call with a question and they get you answer right away. There has to be a way to get advice right away so you can make the right decision,” he said.

~ Newport News Daily Press

Northern Virginia state Del. Tom Rust will propose a bill called the Virginia Health Care Independence Act when the House of Delegates convenes next month to discuss Medicaid expansion.

Rust, a Republican, told the Times-Mirror Wednesday his legislation is the only Medicaid-related proposal he’s aware of that will be debated during a special two-day session beginning Sept. 18. The primary intent of the bill, he said, is to return to Virginians millions of tax dollars the state sends to Washington.

Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly went toe-to-toe for the first half of 2014 over expanding Medicaid coverage to as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians through the federal Affordable Care Act. The heated debate led to talks of a government shutdown because Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) pledged he would not sign a budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act.

Months after the regular legislative session ended, and just a few days before the new fiscal year, Republicans won the fight and forced McAuliffe to break a campaign promise and sign a budget free of expansion.

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~ The Loudoun Times


Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
John Lennon

Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles finds it hard to believe that state law allows utility workers and contractors to go onto private land without getting a property owners’ permission to survey for a natural gas pipeline.

The provision stems from a General Assembly law passed 10 years ago, and the Augusta County Board of Supervisors will ask the state’s top lawyer for an opinion.

Dominion has proposed running the underground pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina, including a stretch through the county, and expects to begin survey work on the project next month.

Supervisors passed a resolution at their regular meeting Wednesday, looking for an opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring. If Herring offers a opinion, it would not be binding.

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~ The Staunton News Leader


As the public corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell moves forward, only 10 On Your Side spoke with Governor Terry McAuliffe about conflicts of interest and gifts received while in office.

McDonnell and his wife are accused of trading the prestige of the Governor’s Office for personal gain in the form of lavish gifts from wealthy businessman, Jonnie Williams, who was trying to promote his line of dietary supplements. The McDonnells deny the charges.

And McAuliffe, like everyone else, is watching the historic trial unfold — never before has a Virginia governor been indicted for performance in office. He spoke with one-on-one about the political climate that created the environment which has snared McDonnell.

When McAuliffe was running for Governor, he had what is called a “slam dunk” campaign issue. He was running while news was breaking that then Governor McDonnell and his wife were under state and federal investigation for political corruption. McAuliffe had himself an issue that could become one of his political legacies.

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The defense rested in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on Wednesday with a final and especially poignant look at the couple’s marital troubles, strife that has formed a core of their joint defense.

It came from the couple’s oldest daughter, Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, and it was a sign of the sensitivity of her testimony that she opened by asserting, in turn, that she loves her mother and her father “very much.”

But throughout the nearly five-week trial, the McDonnells have insisted that it is necessary for them to lay bare the crumbling state of their 38-year marriage to fend off charges that they worked together to sell the influence of the governor’s office to a dietary supplement executive in exchange for $177,000 in loans and luxury gifts.

Their attorneys have argued that the couple could not have conspired because they were barely speaking when they occupied the governor’s mansion. Maureen McDonnell developed an emotional attachment to the businessman, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., in place of her husband, they have said.

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~ The Washington Post


Last week, Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner agreed to 2 televised debates with his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, but requested that the Libertarian candidate, Richard Sarvis, be invited to the debates as well. Ordinarily, incumbents may be expected to want to minimize the number of opponents criticizing their record, but Warner, like Democrats around the country, are hoping the Libertarian will take votes from the GOP and ensure his own reelection.

Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate, ran for Governor in Virginia last year. He captured around 7% of the vote, more than double the margin separating the victorious Democrat, Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. While exit polls show Sarvis drew his biggest share of the vote among voters who lean Democrat, the party has become adept at using the Libertarian candidate to portray Republicans as out-of-touch on several issues. Indeed, Sarvis would not have qualified for the Governor’s race without a large donation from a national Democrat donor to fund his nominating petition drive.

Facing a toxic environment for Democrats, Warner and Democrats in North Carolina, Georgia and other states are banking on Libertarian candidates to help them eke out victory in November. In 2012, a Libertarian candidate in Montana likely tipped the election to Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, who run a close reelection.

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~ Breitbart

Bob McDonnell testified he could say no to donors and used University of Virginia Vice Rector William Goodwin Jr. as an example.

On the witness stand in his federal corruption trial Tuesday, the former governor told the jury Goodwin sent him a letter in March of 2012, asking him to reappoint his son-in-law, Robert Hardie, to the UVa Board of Visitors.

McDonnell testified he rejected the request because he didn’t think Hardie’s views on higher education were consistent with the direction he wanted the board to move. This nugget is important to McDonnell’s defense because Goodwin toed the line as friend and donor to McDonnell, similar to how McDonnell viewed Johnnie Williams, according to his defense.

In May of 2012, Goodwin paid $23,000 for the McDonnell family to vacation on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. That same year he donated his Keswick cabin for the governor to use for a political retreat.

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~ The Charlottesville Newsplex


Former first lady Maureen McDonnell’s defense has rested its case.

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s defense rested its case this morning at the former first couple’s corruption trial in U.S. District Court.

After Maureen McDonnell’s lawyers rested her case, Judge James R. Spencer asked the jury to step out of the courtroom briefly. He then asked the former first lady to stand.

Spencer asked her if she understood her right to testify; that if she chooses not to it cannot be held against her and that she knowingly waives the right.

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~ Richmond Times-Dispatch


Robert Ross is a former FBI agent who now works as an investigator for the law firm Holland & Knight, which represents Bob McDonnell.

But he testified Wednesday for Maureen McDonnell’s defense, explaining charts that showed a large number of texts and cell phone calls between Maureen McDonnell and Jonnie Williams, but far fewer between Maureen McDonnell and her husband.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Faulconer, during a cross examination of Ross, wanted to make sure the jury realized that someone working for Bob McDonnell’s defense was testifying for Maureen McDonnell, and he asked Ross a little about it.

Part of Bob McDonnell’s defense is to blame is wife for some of his family’s interactions with Williams, whose company marketed the dietary supplement Anatabloc. The McDonnells are accused on conspiring to promote Anatabloc in exchange for gifts and loans from Williams.

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~ The Virginian-Pilot


What’s this, another McDonnell column?

Oh, yes. Won’t be the last either.

For those who think the press has gone thermonuclear in its coverage of the former governor’s corruption trial, please pause to remember that this is the first time in Virginia history that a chief executive has been indicted on criminal charges.

If Bob McDonnell is convicted of bribery or bank fraud, his forwarding address could be a federal penitentiary.

Virginia stories don’t get much bigger than this one.

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~ The Virginian-Pilot


The media corps is just starting to amble into small room granted by the U.S. District Court, albeit with tight rules. No cell phone calls outside the cramped quarters in the hallways. No slouching in the corridor with your laptop on the floor hoping your cellphone hot spot still works.

If you violate the rules, guards under the supervision of U.S. District Judge James Spencer, you could have your electronics confiscated.

The fun part is that it’s a congenial group with several from the local newspaper, three from The Washington Post which broke the McDonnell story, one from the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Politico and me, for Bloomberg News.

We sit for hours on hardwood seats waiting for breaks to file updates or stories. The television folks must go tot he sidewalks outside and they have been admonished by tough Judge Spencer not to block the doorways.

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~ Bacon’s Rebellion

Gladys B. Keating, a 22-year member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Fairfax County whose legislative efforts included consumer advocacy and women’s issues, died Aug. 19 at a medical center in Wilmington, N.C. She was 91.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said her daughter Eileen Carnaggio.

Mrs. Keating, a Democrat, was elected to the House of Delegates from Franconia in 1977. When she retired in 2000, she was the senior woman member of the Virginia legislature.

Her legislative work included helping to win enactment of a bill requiring prominent displays of product-return policies in retail stores and passage of a law that permitted judges to require firearms safety instruction as a precondition to the granting of a concealed weapons permit.

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~ The Washington Post