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Democratic Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Happy Bob and His Prison Smile

Once Again the Republican Party Has Turned Virginia into a Nationwide Joke.
                                 Bob Flashing That Winning Prison Smile

Bob McDonnell is working on a plea deal that involves him giving up the Gov's job for a reduced prison sentence.
Political pundits are all but shoveling dirt over the political future of Virginia's Republican governor, who is reportedly being investigated for accepting a $15,000 gift from a major donor that he didn't report and for possible improper billing and misuse of his official staff, according to the Washington Post.

After a series of missteps, the Republican governor, who has been mentioned in some circles as a contender for president, has hit a bumpy road as he begins to wind down his term as governor of the Commonwealth.   His personal behavior has caught up with him and his bribe taking sell off of his office for personal gain unfolds daily.   Republicans are pretending thay don't know anything about it now but their ignorance will last only so long.

"What hurts the most politically is when the public perceives leaders as using public office for personal gain, especially when it involves taxpayer money," said Mark Rozell, acting Dean and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax.   No doubt about it Bob has been taking anything not nailed down in addition to his $175,000 a year salary and free Mansion to live in.

"Generous personal gifts from political donors and those with a direct stake in certain government policies are not looked upon favorably by the public".   "But using taxpayer dollars for personal items goes to an even different level altogether.  Does it end his future political prospects?   Lets hope Virginia's Republicans wake up and say no to corruption.

"I'd say his prospects don't look favorable at all right now but republicans will vote for anything with a R after the name.

Others say that the cloud hanging over the Virginia governor will be reason for Republicans to cross McDonnell off their list for higher office. In a story last week by Jill Lawrence in the National Journal:  "A GOP strategist who does not advise McDonnell says a nominee would be asking, " 'Is there any good reason we should not pick this person?'   And if that question has a ready answer, that makes it more difficult."

The article goes on to quote Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, who said: "Who wants this baggage? Answer: No one."

A poll released last month by Public Policy Polling noted that Virginians don't want McDonnell to run for president. Only 17 percent think he should make a run for the White House to 57 percent who are opposed to the idea.  Among Republicans, 30 percent think he should go for it to 37 percent who think he should not.   30 percent of Virginia's republican voters support Bob no matter what he does.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Steps Up Stealing Game, May Surpass Palin As Griftiest Governor Ever.

Gov. Bob McDonnell reimbursed the state for nearly $2,400 in food and household supplies used by his children…The lists — for McDonnell twins Sean and Bobby and daughter Rachel — included Gatorade, paper towels, laundry detergent, cold cuts, microwave foods, chips and energy shakes.

The governor said it was the first time he had been presented with an invoice “accurately documenting these expenses.” He noted that his lawyer, Anthony F. Troy, had told him that providing the items was “generally permissible since the state guidelines contain no prohibition, and such expenses may be customary for first families with a returning college student.”

Speaking with reporters Monday after the Schneider court hearing, Troy, a former state attorney general, articulated his first public defense of the governor and responded to charges that the first family inappropriately used mansion resources.

The lawyer recalled his own upbringing as the son of an Italian mother, and said that she would not let him go back to school without “a cold meatball sandwich.”

That’s how families operate, Troy said.    “And the first family shouldn’t be treated any differently.”

The lawyer and the Gov are drinking the same cool aid. 

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wears a Rolex during an interview in his office in Richmond, Va.    McDonnell is not commenting on a $6,500 Rolex watch that published reports say he received from a major campaign donor who has lavished his family with thousands of dollars' worth of gifts he has not disclosed publicly. When asked on his monthly radio show Thursday, June 27, 2013 about the watch, McDonnell cited ongoing federal and state criminal investigations in declining to comment.   The Washington Post reports the watch was purchased by Jonnie Williams, chief executive of nutritional supplement maker Star Scientific Inc.
Donor gave $70K to McDonnell's Company

A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or loan, according to people with knowledge of the payments.

The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 check to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011.

The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012 — funds that are now at the center of federal and state investigations.

Williams, the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific, also provided a $10,000 check in December as a present to McDonnell’s eldest daughter, Jeanine, intended to help defray costs at her May 2013 wedding.

Virginia’s first family already is under intense scrutiny for accepting $15,000 from the same chief executive to pay for the catering at the June 2011 wedding of Cailin McDonnell at the Executive Mansion.

All the payments came as McDonnell and his wife took steps to promote the donor’s company and its products.

The payments to the corporation, confirmed by people familiar with the transactions, offer the first public example of money provided by Williams that would directly benefit the governor and not just his family.

The money went from a trust, controlled by Williams, to MoBo Real Estate Partners, a limited-liability corporation formed in 2005 by McDonnell and his sister.

McDonnell viewed the payments to MoBo and to his wife as loans and not gifts, according to three people familiar with the transactions.    State law requires elected officials to disclose their personal loans but not loans made to their corporate interests.

Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, declined to comment on the payments other than to say that McDonnell has been diligent in filling out legally mandated disclosures.

Virginia lawmaker calls on Bob McDonnell to resign amid FBI probe.

More Lawmakers have joined the call for Bob to resign but you always remember your first.   The first Virginia lawmaker is calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell to resign amid allegations that the Republican leader took gifts from a politically connected donor without reporting it.

Sen. Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Northern Virginia, wrote McDonnell on Tuesday asking him to  “come clean”  on his relationship with Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Virginia-based Star Scientific.    Williams lavished McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell with gifts, including vacations and use of his Ferrari. Williams also picked up the $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of the McDonnell’s daughter, which the governor said he did not have to disclose because it was for a family member.

The FBI is investigating whether Williams, who also donated to McDonnell’s campaign, received political favors in return for gifts to the McDonnells, who helped promote a tobacco-based supplement critical to Star Scientific’s financial future.

Star Scientific is embroiled in a state lawsuit over unpaid taxes and a federal investigation into one of its products.Petersen said if McDonnell is “unable to explain (or deny) these reports or return the items, then I humbly suggest you should step down as governor.”

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin retorted that Petersen’s letter “appears to be premised on unconfirmed and inaccurate media reports.”

“As an attorney, certainly Senator Peterson understands this office’s not discussing the details of matters pending in the legal process,” Martin said. “And, as a legislator, certainly Senator Peterson is aware that Virginia’s disclosure requirements do not pertain to the families of elected officials.”

The FBI is investigating McDonnell's ties to a businessman who paid for his daughter's wedding.

Republican Virginia Delegate David Ramadan confirmed to the Washington Post that he was subpoenaed and will testify in a federal grand jury hearing, related to an FBI investigation into Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

“I’m cooperating and look forward to continuing to cooperate 100 percent,” Ramadan said.

The FBI has been conducting interviews about the relationship between McDonnell (R) and his wife and the chief executive of a dietary supplement company who paid for the catering at the 2011 wedding of the governor’s daughter.   The agents are exploring whether McDonnell assisted the company in exchange for gifts.

Ramadan’s subpoena, however, was the first public indication of the impaneling of a grand jury to review evidence in the McDonnells’ case — a significant escalation in the investigation.

McDonnell's Approval Rating Falls

Scandal-plagued Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) approval rating has dropped 12 percentage points in the past two months, according to a survey released Monday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

A widening FBI probe into gifts from a corporate donors has driven McDonnell's job rating underwater for the first time in his tenure, according to PPP, with 36 percent of voters approving and 41 percent disapproving. In May, McDonnell had a 44 percent approval rating.

Virginians' approval of McDonnell, once mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney last year, has fallen from 73 percent to 62 percent among Republicans, and from 22 percent to 14 percent among Democrats.

Earlier polls, taken after the FBI announced it was investigating gifts given to McDonnell by a campaign donor, found less concern about his actions.    A May Quinnipiac University survey found that while McDonnell's approval was at its lowest point in two years, most voters were paying little attention to the allegations.

 In a May poll from The Washington Post, 59 percent of registered voters said the governor had “high personal moral and ethical standards."

Since then, news about the FBI investigation has grown. Last week, The Washington Post reported that McDonnell and his wife received $120,000 in undisclosed gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the CEO of a dietary supplement company called Star Scientific whose products McDonnell promoted.

 In the most recent PPP survey, just 31 percent of Virginia voters said McDonnell was an ethical politician. But most aren't calling on him to resign. While 35 percent thought he should give up his seat, 45 percent thought he should stay in office, and the remaining 20 percent weren't sure.

PPP said its polling showed McDonnell had become a "liability" for other GOP candidates, some of whom are seeking to distance themselves.

"What we've all been seeing is very painful for Virginia, and it's completely inconsistent with Virginia's very reserved traditions," Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who is running to replace McDonnell, said Wednesday.

Bob McDonnell’s Former Chef Now Central To Drama Around FBI Probe

When he was hired in 2010 as chef at Virginia’s historic Executive Mansion, Todd Schneider came with celebrity cachet, claiming connections to cooking world stars such as Martha Stewart and Paula Deen. And when a cable channel toured the governor’s mansion, Schneider was cast as co-star to first lady Maureen McDonnell, showing off the gardens he tended and the kitchen he ran.

Schneider served a platter of oatmeal, raisin and granola cookies to the Lifetime host as the beaming first lady looked on.    An image flashed on the screen of Gov. Bob McDonnell, wearing a blue apron and working at a kitchen counter. “We’re like a big family here,” Schneider said.Not anymore.

The once-celebrated chef no longer works at the mansion. He is accused of pilfering food from the governor’s official residence and faces trial this summer on charges of felony embezzlement.

Now, embarrassment over a few hundred dollars of missing groceries has risen to scandal. The towering, bearish Schneider, 52, has become a pivotal figure in a political drama involving questionable giving by the CEO of a struggling company to the state’s most powerful politicians — McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Schneider’s attorneys have fired back, suggesting that the scandal’s full scope has yet to be revealed.

A judge has issued a gag order as Schneider’s case moves through pre-trial hearings.

McDonnell and his spokesmen have declined to discuss the case or explain how the politically connected Schneider, with state and federal tax liens totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars and a string of court appearances on his record, ended up in the mansion’s kitchen.   They also declined to provide Schneider’s resume, calling it a personnel record.

Schneider’s attorneys have not responded to a request for the resume.

First signs of the scandal surfaced in March 2012.

After months of whispering, Schneider was dismissed from the mansion amid a state police investigation into allegations of improprieties involving the kitchen operation.   This March, a grand jury indicted Schneider on charges that he embezzled property valued at $200 or more from the state in 2011 and in January 2012. The indictments contained no further details.

The person who links Schneider, Cuccinelli and McDonnell is Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific, a tiny manufacturer of nutritional supplements in suburban Richmond.

Williams gave more than $100,000 in political contributions to McDonnell and thousands of dollars more in gifts to McDonnell’s family.    The governor, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, has acknowledged receiving the gifts, including a $15,000 check to his daughter to help pay for food at her June 2011 wedding.

The check went Schneider’s company, Seasonings Fine Catering.

As for Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee to succeed McDonnell also has received gifts from Williams, including free use of his Smith Mountain Lake vacation lodge in 2010 and 2012.

Cuccinelli has dumped stock he once held in Williams’ company.

Neither Cuccinelli nor McDonnell is charged with wrongdoing, but the FBI is looking at the relationship between McDonnell and Williams, sources have told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their roles precluded them from talking publicly.    The FBI’s interest is related to a federal securities investigation of Star Scientific.

Schneider’s attorney, meanwhile, has made it clear his client won’t quietly go to trial.

In court filings, attorney Steven D. Benjamin said Schneider told authorities about alleged but unspecified wrongdoing by the governor and his family a year ago. He also hinted Schneider was sometimes told to take food in lieu of payment and that McDonnell family members took items from the kitchen.

Schneider’s current employer, a catering and event planner in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area, said Schneider was upfront about the investigation in Richmond.    Maurice Mizrahi described the food-for-pay scenario as fairly typical in the catering and restaurant business.

Mizrahi recalled being in Schneider’s Richmond restaurant, Great Seasons, in 2011 as a worker loaded beef and other things for the mansion. “I know there was a whole bunch of back-and-forth,” Mizrahi said.

Mizrahi hired Schneider as sales and events manager and said he’s one of the best he’s seen in the business.

He’s convinced Schneider is innocent. “For me to believe that he would take anything that wasn’t an even trade or barter, zero possibility in my book,” Mizrahi said.

Benjamin is seeking dismissal of the charges because he said Cuccinelli has conflicts he has not acknowledged, including ties to Williams.

A judge agreed to let Cuccinelli’s office recuse itself from the case. But Benjamin said Cuccinelli knew about the conflicts before he decided to prosecute Schneider.    “This doesn’t remedy the fundamental harm — the decision to prosecute Mr. Schneider,” Benjamin said in court last week.

Schneider had worked for decades in the catering and restaurant business in Virginia and his native Connecticut, but Schneider has been no stranger to courtrooms, according to records obtained by the AP. Many of those appearances signaled financial strains.

State and federal tax liens totaling nearly $400,000 were filed against Schneider in Richmond and Chesterfield courts from 2006 through this year.   Court records in Chesterfield Circuit Court state he has not settled a nearly $54,000 lien, some of that assessed while he worked in the mansion.

Food purveyors, a home heating company, an attorney and others also went to small claims or circuit courts to press him for payments totaling thousands of dollars. The majority of the claims were settled, but the disposition of all the cases is not clear, based on available public records.

A felony embezzlement charge in May 2000 was brought in Richmond General District Court against Schneider, and incomplete court records indicate it was reduced to a misdemeanor in return for a guilty plea.    He received a six-month suspended sentence. Specifics were not available at the courthouse, nor was another felony charge that was dropped.

Citing the gag order, Schneider’s attorneys declined to comment.

The McDonnell administration has acknowledged that Schneider did not undergo a state police criminal background check before he was hired.

After his hiring, he claimed in news accounts an internship under Stewart and a friendship with celebrity chef Deen. Stewart spokeswoman Kate Bittman said she could not “verify one way or the other whether Mr. Schneider was an intern of Martha’s.”

And though Deen “liked” his restaurant’s Facebook page, spokesman Jeff Rose said, “She met him once, and they had no friendship.”

In interviews with the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Washington Post, Schneider said he had catered events for former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, movie director Steven Spielberg, and corporate clients such as Capital One and NBC. Records compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, which monitors money in politics, showed Schneider was a favorite among state politicians, earning tens of thousands of dollars through the years.

He told the Richmond paper that he studied finance at New York University and worked as a stockbroker. But NYU spokesman James Devitt wrote in an email that the school has no record of attendance by a Todd Schneider with his birth date.

Unanswered Questions in FBI Probe

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell can't answer questions about a report that a federal grand jury will be impaneled to investigate whether he or his family took gifts in exchange for favors.

That development came to light after Del. David Ramadan (R -Loudoun) confirmed that he had been subpoenaed to appear before the federal grand jury.

When asked about the grand jury McDonnell kept walking as he replied, "I can't talk about that."

The FBI has been investigating the relationship between McDonnell and a wealthy donor, Jonnie Williams. Williams is the CEO of Star Scietific, a nutritional supplement company. McDonnell has received more than $100,000 in political contributions from Williams.

Virginia's first lady, Maureen McDonnell, has attended promotional events for Star Scientific. But the FBI probe has focused on a $15,000 catering bill Williams picked up for the wedding reception of McDonnell's daughter. Del. Ramadan attended the wedding but it's unclear why he's been subpoenaed. Ramadan did not return phone calls asking for comment.

Del. Tom Rust (R - Fairfax County) concedes the investigation is a distraction.   "This doesn't help things any but I think we have to wait and see how it plays out."

Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly said he thinks it's time for the governor to provide more information to the public.

"I know Bob McDonnell and I consider him an honorable man but like so many fellow Virginians, I've been frankly shocked about what I'm hearing and reading and certainly hope he'll avail himself the opportunity to better explain to Virginians what happened and why," said Connolly.

Political analyst Bob Holsworth said he doesn't think the investigation has filtered down to general public.   It's really centered mostly on political insiders but it has the potential for not only harming Gov. McDonnell but also harming the Republican party in upcoming election."

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Note From Ned on Coming Election

Note from Amherst County Democratic Committee Secretary Ned Kable

Dear Fellow Democrat:

We need to get out to support the Virginia Democratic ticket!     The thought of the Tea Party dominated Republican ticket running this Commonwealth is scary.  

On Monday evening, July 8, Jeff Patterson, our area coordinator for Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic ticket, will be at the Madison Heights Public Library Community room starting at 6:30 PM, to tell us what the State-wide plan is, and how we can help.

We can also tell him what we need to help the campaign effort.    We need everyone’s help.

We need folks to take responsibility for various operations: phone banking, canvassing, communications (Website, Facebook, etc.), meeting planning and activities, campaign focused technology, etc.

Tell us how you can help.

We need someone to volunteer space in Madison Heights and the Town of Amherst for meeting and phone bank activities.    And we need some money in our bank account to cover expenses.    So bring your checkbooks, or cash if you must, and pay your dues for 2013!      And make an additional donation if you are able.    Come and meet your friends, and find out what the Virginia Democratic Party has planned.


Ned Kable, Secretary

Stand with Terry McAuliffe for a Stronger Virginia.

Monday July 8 at 6:30 PM in the Madison Heights Library Community Room.

As a businessman, entrepreneur, and father, Terry McAuliffe knows what it takes to build a strong economy and keep Virginia's families safe and strong. But he can't get the job done without your help — right now.

Terry has five children with wife Dorothy Dori, Jack, Mary, Sally, and Peter.

Terry started his first business, McAuliffe Driveway Maintenance, at the age of 14.   In 1979, he received a bachelor's degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.    After graduation, McAuliffe took a job in the 1980 presidential reelection campaign of Jimmy Carter, and at the age of 22 became the national finance director.

McAuliffe recently announced endorsements from two prominent Republicans, former national committee finance chairman Dwight Schar and Earle Williams, who ran for the GOP nomination to be governor in 1993.   The voters of Virginia don't know much about Cuccinelli but what little they know is all bad.   It is good to see strong Republican support for McAuliffe and now we at the grass roots level need to come together and show our support for Terry.   It is Not hard to imagine the mess Virginia will be in if Cuccinelli and his team of radicals are in charge of our state.  

Amherst County Democrats, Please accept the invitation to meet with Jeff Patterson, the new Terry McAuliffe team coordinator for our area.    Jeff is based in Charlottesville and will work the campaign for Amherst County also.

The meeting is Monday July 8 at 6:30 PM in the Madison Heights Library Community Room and we really hope you will join us there.   You and all your friends and neighbors are invited in this important drive to keep our state on solid ground.     Electing Terry McAuliffe is job one for the economy and the working families of Virginia.   Please come and bring some friends, there is plenty of free parking.   The Library is next to the Lowes Store in the River James Shopping Center.

ACV Democratic News


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