Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Virginia, Conservative Republican Governor and Attorney General Have a Nice Relationship With Star Scientific

Governor Gets Fantastic Gifts and Services, Attorney General Owns Stock in Company That is Suing the State for Tax Reduction

Why Didn’t AG Disclose Ownership of Stock?  The Steve Martin Defense, “I FORGOT”

Weddings are expensive, not only do a lot of people show up but they have to be fed.  For the wedding of Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s daughter the tab came to $15,000.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, had about 200 guests to Virginia’s historic Executive Mansion for their daughter Cailin’s wedding in 2011. The menu included fresh poached jumbo shrimp, bruschetta topped with Virginia tomatoes and stuffed free-range chicken breast.

The cost to the Governor – Zip

The $15,000 worth of fine dining came courtesy of Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of a company that has made major contributions to McDonnell’s campaigns and that is the subject of a federal securities investigation.

And not that the Governor had anything to hide (right), but he did not disclose the gift.  How could he fail to do that, oh there was this technicality.

the spokesman, Jeff Caldwell, said Williams picked up the catering bill for the wedding as a gift to Cailin and her husband, Chris Young. Because it was not a gift to the governor, Virginia law did not require McDonnell to include it on his annual disclosure form, Caldwell said.

Isn’t that nice.  And isn’t this nice.

The wedding gift, which was not disclosed by McDonnell, is just one element of the McDonnells’ close relationship with Williams and his company, a relationship that has included rides on Williams’s corporate jet, personal gifts to the first family and efforts by the governor and his wife to promote the company.

But the Governor need not fear any questions on this relationship from the Attorney General of the state.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II failed to disclose for nearly a year that he had substantial stock holdings in a company, even though disclosure is required by law and his office was defending the state in a tax lawsuit filed by the company.

Cuccinelli, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, said through a campaign consultant that the attorney general did not disclose his interest in Star Scientific because he didn’t realize that his holdings exceeded $10,000, the threshold for disclosure under state law. Once he realized the oversight, Cuccinelli corrected it, said the consultant, Chris LaCivita.

Oh, the Attorney General and soon to be nominee for Governor forgot.  He just forgot.  He used the classic Steve Martin defense.

You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. "Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?" First.. get a million dollars. Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?" 

Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!" How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"?

Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal." Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?" Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!" 

And of course there is the issue of a tax dispute between the company and the state.

Attorneys for Cuccinelli’s office, acting on behalf of the state, responded to the suit within two weeks, defending the tax assessment. But no further court action in the matter has occurred since. Both parties say it was handled as routine business by staff lawyers for the attorney general’s office.

Cuccinelli has not sought to recuse his office from the suit, despite his personal financial interest in the company. But on Saturday, his office said it was reviewing the handling of the case and will have an announcement about it soon.

If the financially struggling company loses the suit, it has told investors that it would owe the state $1.7 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.

And here is a really worrisome aspect of this

“This case has been handled in the ordinary course of business by tax attorneys” within the attorney general’s office, he said in a statement.

which we assume means that the office of the Attorney General always is involved in defending suits where the Attorney General has a financial interest in the other party.

Now none of this is specific to Republicans or Conservatives, Democrats also believe that government is a tool to increase their own personal wealth.  It’s just the Conservatives are so much better at it, and so good at living with themselves after denouncing government and profiting from it.

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