Tag Archives: Bob McDonnell

Bob McDonnell Gives Ingratitude a Bad Name

No, that's not Maureen & her daughter. It's the official 1st Lady portrait.

No, that’s not Maureen & her daughter. It’s the official 1st Lady portrait.

The Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial is not proving to be the unmitigated disaster for the McDonnell family that I first assumed. As the trial continues Maureen is looking more and more like her official portrait, currently on display at the Richmond Salvation Army Store.

She can’t do anything about the age difference — the youngster in Maureen’s “First Lady” portrait appears to be graduating from college next fall — but the size differential is rapidly closing. There’s nothing like the Federal Corruption Trial Diet to help remove those unwanted pounds that appear barnacle–like over the years.

A few more weeks in the courthouse and Maureen will be down to her fighting weight, which may come in handy if she’s sentenced to hard time.

The McDonnell saga, which in many ways represents the typical I–won–the–lottery–and–blew–it–all story has been invaluable for those who write. If you’re interested in brushing up on the whole story here are the relevant columns:

Politicians and their lack of will power when it comes to gifts are here.

The McDonnell family’s descent into a life of dependency in the governor’s mansion is here.

And why Bob McDonnell should have resigned as governor is here.

The prosecution has now rested its case and regardless of whether or not McDonnell is guilty, the picture painted of the family is only flattering if you compare them to the Kardashians.

Trial testimony left out the thousands of dollars it cost when the McDonnell kids raided the mansion’s pantry to take food to college. (That was only tax dollars and everyone knows those are free.) Instead the trial focused on what Jonnie R. Williams showered on the governor. There is the $20,000 shopping tab Maureen ran up on her New York City shopping trip that was chaperoned by Williams. His unintentionally funny description of the outing into Women’s Territory warmed the heart of every husband who’s sat bored on a mall bench outside a clothing store as the women shopped and the credit card smoked: “It went on for hours.”

Then there is the brand new set of golf clubs, golf bag with the UVA logo and golf shoes given to Bobby McDonnell who thought the give was “excessive” but not so excessive that he sent it back. In fact he and his father and brother played multiple rounds of golf and charged hundreds of dollars in green fees, caddy fees, food and golf accessory purchases to Williams during 2011 and 2012.

There’s even a rumor they tried to flag down Marine One and invite Obama to join the threesome.

The haul from the Jonnie Williams ATM was so extensive the WaPost designed an excellent graphic that shows whom got what that you can find here. Weddings were profit centers, the family was showered with plane tickets, a trip to Cape Cod, the Final Four (ironic that, because McDonnell’s governor term was the final four years of his political career), Florida, another golf bag, flights on private planes, a watercolor and a turkey dinner (wait, sorry, that was Ken Cuccinelli’s thanksgiving gratuity from Williams). And since the McDonnells were good conservatives they would NEVER stoop to taking an Obamaphone, but they did pocket two Williams’ iPhones.

The mental image one has after reading the list is of the Beverly Hillbillies living it up in their new California mansion, but that’s completely unfair to the Clampetts, because they were using their own money.

Now that the prosecution’s story of Rent–A–Politician has concluded, the defense strategy is two–fold. First Maureen is a maniac who had hot pants for Williams and hid everything from her husband. She was the mastermind behind the plot to trade official support for Williams’ patent medicine product, Anatabloc, in return for Williams making the McDonnells his foster children.

My favorite story involving Maureen is from the WaPost and it concerns her efforts to sell Mitt Romney on the diet supplement during a trip to South Carolina. Now I’ve seen Mitt’s legs and they are about the size of a pipe cleaner, so Maureen’s instincts were good. Mitt could use some bulking up.

Staffers sensing a disaster put a stop to that plan, but they couldn’t intercept Mrs. McDonnell before she cornered Ann Romney on the campaign bus, where Maureen’s pre–trial bulk made it impossible for Mrs. Romney to escape.

Exhibiting her usual tact and concern for the feelings of others, Maureen blurted to Ann that Williams’ Anatablock was so great it could “potentially cure MS.” Ann Romney —who no doubt had a few choice words for the advance staff after the event — has multiple sclerosis, so the sales pitch was vulgar, insensitive and fit Maureen as snugly as one of Williams’ free designer dresses.

Or as McDonnell political advisor Phil Cox said on the stand, “I was horrified. I thought it was a train wreck.”

Bob’s defense is different. He’s not crazy, but he may be the biggest ingrate in Commonwealth history. Big Watch Bob’s story is reciprocation is not a word in his vocabulary. He accepted $120,000.00 in no–doc loans to shore up his failing real estate investments, wore the Rolex, presided over the acceptance of the other thousands of dollars in booty and did absolutely NOTHING in return for Williams.

He just sent all William’s calls to voice mail where they died a lingering death. It would have made more sense for Williams to forget the McDonnells and hire a lobbyist, but come to think of it 120K probably wouldn’t be enough to hire a Hamas spokesman.

As far as strategies go this is a variation of the Viet Nam defense: We destroyed the reputation in order to save it.

And just to make sure there was no doubt as to McDonnell’s ingratitude the WaPost writes, “In the afternoon, defense attorneys presented a parade of former McDonnell cabinet secretaries to testify to all the things McDonnell could have done to assist Williams and his company. In turn, each witness agreed that McDonnell never took those actions.”

In other words don’t loan Bob your lawnmower with the expectation that you can borrow his rake later.

I can see the fun couple’s social life drying up the longer the trial continues. Who wants to host a couple that will never return the favor and might ask you to take them to the mall before they leave?

Ingratitude as a get–out–of–jail strategy can’t be helping fund raising for McDonnell’s legal defense. (Lawyers are something else for which McDonnell doesn’t deign to pay.) If a signature loan for 120K doesn’t warm the cockles of Bob’s heart when he’s facing foreclosure, what is your measly 5K for lawyers going to achieve?

Bob McDonnell Discovers He’s Past the Sell–By Date

Baby McDonnell sell by memeIf you need additional proof that taking handouts creates dependency, look no further than the sad fate of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. McDonnell is currently under federal indictment and accused of trading government favors for money, loans and gifts from former Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

Williams is one of those ‘good friends’ politicians seem to acquire just about the time they win an office where it’s possible to dispense favors.

Federal charging papers list quite an inventory of gifts. They include a $17,000 NYC shopping trip for wife, Maureen, where the money was spent at Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton and Bergdorf Goodman to buy various designer dresses and jewelry befitting a former Redskins cheerleader and current 1st lady.

Then there was $15,000 for catering at the daughter’s wedding — Maureen likes round numbers — a $10,000 wedding gift to another daughter, $120,000 in no–doc loans to shore up bad vacation home investments, free family vacations at the Williams’ getaway and a $6,500 Rolex watch for Bob. They even had Williams’ brother, Donnie, mow their lawn and do odd jobs for free around the house. Bringing the grand total in the indictment to $165,000, not counting Donnie’s sweat equity.

And all this occurred because it’s so tough to make ends meet on only $175,000 a year plus free room and board.

Naturally a politician so broke he essentially functioned as the foster child of his ‘family friend’ Williams is in no position to pay for his own legal defense. And Maureen is not about to settle for the tender mercies of the public defender’s office, so McDonnell founded the Restoration Fund and began soliciting donations for his defense.

The fund’s chairman, Stanley Baldwin, told the WaPost the ‘Restorers’ (not to be confused with Donnie Williams) are “long time admirers of Gov. McDonnell and his outstanding performance as Virginia’s chief executive.”

Evidently it’s a dwindling band. During all of 2013 the fund raised a total of $11,400. Of course if McDonnell mooched off the rest of his friends the way he milked Williams, it’s no surprise he’s only raising bake sale money for his defense fund.

Another variable at work is the hard and fast reality of the political sell–by date, which causes ‘good family friends’ to become scarce just when one needs them the most. During McDonnell’s campaign, when he was still fresh and, like milk, passed the smell test, J. Douglas Perry — co–founder Dollar Tree stores — gave $75,000. Perry’s contribution to McDonnell’s legal defense fund after he left office was only $2,500, which is quite a discount rate.

To put that $11,400 in perspective, the average billing rate for a high–powered DC law firm is $662/hour. Even if Bob grabs the entire treasury, he can only buy 17 hours of legal time and you can’t plead guilty for that amount.

And in spite off all the tribulations their attempt to join the ranks of the nouveau riche brought upon the family, Bob and Maureen still have his–and–her lawyers. Although I wonder who’s footing the bill for her defense as I hear Jonnie has blocked Maureen’s cell number.

Back in the statehouse leftist Democrats see this as a perfect opportunity to expand the nanny state and pass ‘ethics’ laws that increase the size of the permanent government bureaucracy. One proposal creates a state ethics advisory council — think of it as a taxpayer–paid conscience for spineless legislators — and limits gifts to a value of $250 each. Forcing future ‘family friends’ to purchase their politicians on layaway.

The good news for the easily corrupted is law doesn’t put a value on trips, tickets or other intangible influence peddling, so if you already have a watch it’s business as usual.

The fact is Virginia’s law could use an update, but it doesn’t require putting a dollar amount on gifts. All that’s required is for elected officials to issue monthly disclosure of any gift valued over $10, with a false filing resulting in a felony perjury charge. Those covered under the new rule should now expand to include anyone in the immediate family that receives a gift: Call it chain disclosure. And any ‘S’ corporations a politician is involved in would also disclose gifts and loans.

That way voters could decide for themselves if their politician has been bought and if so, evaluate the bargain he drove. There’s no need for additional bureaucracy and pettifogging rules.

This brings us to the real scandal sitting in plain sight: Dime–store political dynasties that think the office belongs to them. Democrat John Dingell is a case in point. He inherited the Congressional seat his father warmed and then served 53 years. During which Dingell was cashing countless federal paychecks, wasting tax dollars, inflicting bad ideas on the nation and enduring what appears to be at least one facelift that left him looking like a Rugby ball with a grin.

You’d think that would be enough for any family of leeches, but you would be wrong. Now wife Debbie wants her turn at the trough. She’s already had an influence–peddling job with the American Automotive Policy Council, where I’m sure listing Detroit Cong. John Dingell at the top of her list of references had no impact.

Now Debbie wants the congressional seat — the media is calling this obscene power grab a “Dingell hat trick” — and she’ll probably win it. The same contributors who rented John all those years like to stick with a name they can trust and the interest groups he pandered to will recognize the Dingell family brand on the ballot.

Virginia governors have to move fast if they want to cash in, because they only get a single term. The likes of Dingell and the rest of an arrogant political class get their corruption over the decades on the installment plan and that’s the real scandal no one is talking about.

Off–Year Election Prospects Grim for Conservatives

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

In 2009 gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia provided a morale boost for conservatives still smarting from the Obama victory. Chris Christie won in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell won in Virginia.

The chance for morale boosting repeat this year is very small.

In New Jersey we’ve discovered Christie is now Obama’s newest BFF and is showing all the symptoms of an advanced case of RINO’s disease with egomaniacal complications.

Here in Virginia, there is little optimism regarding Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor. It’s looking more and more like he should have kept his original promise to run for re–election as attorney general. Then there truly would have been a balm in Gilead.

Retiring Lt. Governor Bill Bolling could have run unopposed on the GOP side — while he continued to keep his inner RINO in the closet — Cuccinelli would be AG and E. W. Jackson could have become Lt. Governor. Two conservatives out of three isn’t bad and former GOP consultant — and Bolling inner circle member — Boyd Marcus would not have had to defect to the Democrats in a fit of pique.

It pains me to say this, but ‘moderate’ Bolling actually would have been a stronger candidate than Cuccinelli, because he has no ties whatsoever to FBI investigation target Jonnie Williams — the VA GOP answer to Santa Claus — and his Star Scientific patent medicine company. A Bolling candidacy would have been immune to the fallout from Big Watch Bob McDonnell’s gifts–that–keep–on–giving scandal. Simply because Bolling didn’t run up a tab with Williams. Bolling doesn’t wear a $7,500 gift watch, didn’t take free vacations, his children didn’t receive $25,000 in wedding gifts, his wife didn’t receive a $15,000 shopping spree and the family business didn’t get a $75,000 loan.

(Rumor has it that once Bolling learned Williams’ product wasn’t a weight loss aid, he had no more interest in Star Scientific.)

Instead we have an incumbent governor passing the hat to raise money to pay lawyers working to prevent an indictment. Williams is singing like a canary. And both are damaging Cuccinelli who took what amounted to tip money from Jonnie — particularly when compared to the jackpot McDonnell hit when Williams became a “family friend.”

No wonder Ken is currently polling seven points behind the Democrat nominee Terry ‘Flim Flam Man’ McAuliffe. I suppose we’re lucky the deficit isn’t larger. McDonnell could have helped the situation if he had resigned during the summer, but even Star Scientific doesn’t manufacture an anti–inflammatory powerful enough to lubricate McDonnell’s passage out of the mansion.

So McAuliffe’s refusal to release his tax returns — for a brief moment an important issue — becomes a non–issue in the environment generated by the Williams/McDonnell gifts scandal. Looking at it from a voter’s perspective it’s a wash, McAuliffe is just better about hiding his financial peccadilloes.

In this political climate it’s crucial for the Cuccinelli campaign to avoid any mistakes that call the nominee’s character into question. So what do they do? The campaign airs a negative commercial that calls the campaign’s character into question.

The spot contains testimonials from people who were ruined by the bankruptcy of a company from which McAuliffe made millions. Any effectiveness the commercial had ended when the people giving the testimonials told the Washington Post that no one told them the footage would be in a campaign commercial. On the contrary, they say they were told the interviews were for a documentary. And they say the Cuccinelli campaign lied to them.

I’ve been making campaign commercials for 33 years and I can tell you that any competent media firm has a simple way to settle controversies like this. All the campaign has to do is show the reporter the talent releases signed during the taping.

That way if the interviewees change their mind later or the McAuliffe people pressure them, you have proof the interview subjects knew what they were getting into before the spot aired.

Only the Cuccinelli campaign didn’t show Washington Post reporters any signed releases. During their WaPost interview they did not address “whether the employees in the ad were told how the footage would be used.”

I don’t want to pile on here, but I have some advice for the campaign. If the media consultant and the production company didn’t get signed permission releases from non–professional talent the company is sloppy, incompetent and deserves to be fired.

If the media consultant and the production company have releases but the releases say the footage is to be used in a documentary and not a campaign commercial, they are sleazy, incompetent and deserve to be fired.

Voters are accustomed to a certain amount of hyperbole in positive campaign spots, that’s why no one chokes when Lindsey Graham and the word “fighting” appear in the same spot. But negative commercials must be accurate and the allegations based on verifiable fact. Ken’s campaign has done it’s best to undermine his positive and negative message.

We have a Cuccinelli campaign that says McAuliffe can’t be trusted, plays fast and loose with the truth and won’t release his taxes. Then the same campaign releases a commercial that plays fast and loose with the truth to people already reeling from losing their livelihood. And just to make sure the news stays bad Cuccinelli — after foot dragging for months — decides to donate $18,000 to charity to offset the same amount he received in gifts from Jonnie Williams.

In one fell swoop the campaign helps McAuliffe by generating another week or two of negative coverage regarding the gifts. Waiting this late in the campaign to donate money from gifts Cuccinelli never should have taken is stupidity compounded.

I’m told that the reason Cuccinelli decided to break his promise and not run for re–election as AG is his big money backers told him they would not donate unless he ran for governor. I’m wondering how the plutocrats feel about their investment now?

 

For more on Cuccinelli and the gifts scandal click here

For more on how McDonnell caused the gifts scandal click here and here

For more on how Bolling discovered his inner RINO click here

For more on how Marcus discovered his inner turncoat click here

Time for Virginia’s GOP Governor to Resign

Big Watch Bob and the timepiece that says it's time to go.

Big Watch Bob and the timepiece that says it’s time to go.

Virginia Gov. Bob ‘I want my Boost for breakfast’ McDonnell’s slide down the slope to complete disgrace continues. When we last wrote about Gov. Boost in mid–June, he was under fire for billing Virginia taxpayers for body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins, colon blow, breakfast Boost, dry cleaning, shoe repairs and dog food — all because it’s really tough to make ends meet when you are only pulling in $175,000 a year.

The spending problem was joined by a receiving problem when the Washington Post* reported the McDonnell family had also accepted a $15,000 check for catering at daughter Cailin’s wedding and the governor had not bothered to disclose the gift. Possibly because the foie gras disagreed with him.

That was bad enough, but the latest developments in the story leave no room for doubt regarding the governor’s deficient sense of propriety and lack of common sense.

The signer of the $15,000 catering check was Jonnie R. Williams who is head of Star Scientific, the manufacturer of Anatabloc an OTC anti–inflammatory. Evidently Williams also serves as the McDonnell family’s personal ATM. For in addition to the catering, the McDonnell’s have also made withdrawals from Williams for the following:

A $6,500 Rolex watch

A $15,000 Bergdorf Goodman shopping spree for wife Maureen

A $10,000 wedding gift to daughter Jeanine

A $70,000 loan to Bob and another $50,000 to Maureen

Bringing the grand total (based on current accounting) to $166,500.00.

This is why there won’t be any circling of the wagons for Gov. Boost, unless it’s a tumbrel.

It’s obvious why Williams was willing to give all this money to McDonnell, who was a complete stranger until just before the inauguration. Williams is an Old Testament man, specifically Proverbs 18:16 “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.”

(Rumor has it that Williams also met Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds at about the same time, but he took one look at the Deeds campaign and simply gave him a case of Anatabloc.)

My question is what was McDonnell thinking? His kids are stealing $2,400 worth of food from the mansion to take back to college. His wife thinks his winning the governor’s race means she’s won the lottery. And he’s borrowing thousands of dollars to shore up vacation properties he bought at the height of the real estate boom.

Is McDonnell’s ego so large that he believes he can take the money from Williams without incurring any obligation or public comment? Or does he feel the fact he drove William’s Ferrari back to Richmond from Smith Mountain Lake — thereby becoming the most expensive valet parker in history — means they’re square?

And while we are on the subject of the family, does Maureen know FOX has cancelled My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss? Judging by the Post coverage, working for The Donald is preferable to working for The Maureen. The former Redskins cheerleader has ordered professional mansion staffers to strip to their BVDs and scrub her bathroom. Other staff members have been reduced to tears after her tirades. The situation finally became so bad a management consulting team from Virginia Commonwealth University had to perform an intervention.

Even her vanity projects are somewhat bizarre. Maureen discovered a pressing need for the Commonwealth to have portraits painted of Virginia’s first ladies. Tom Camden, former curator of the state art collection, acknowledged that Mrs. McDonnell had asked for several changes to her portrait. “I understand how Mrs. McDonnell thought,” he said. “And I think she wanted her best image, whether it was necessarily historically accurate or not.”

Judging from the picture in the Post, Maureen’s portrait has successfully lost about 30 lbs. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see for yourself, since there is currently no place to hang the collection. Maybe Williams will offer some space in his Smith Mountain Lake vacation retreat.

As this is written, the governor has a new legal team and crisis spokesman to deal with the FBI investigation of the gifts and the continuing media inquiries. I certainly don’t begrudge the governor his lawyer, but unfortunately the first question that comes to my mind is who’s paying for this? Is Jonnie finally tapped out?

The new spokesman says “private funds” will be used to pay for the team — this comes as a relief to taxpayers who are still coming to terms with buying the governor’s Axe for Men — and the governor does not have a legal defense fund “at this point.”

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Breakfast Boost Bob has a fund of his own, thereby keeping company with George Zimmerman and Edward Snowdon.

One of the early controversies in this year’s Virginia governor’s race (McDonnell is term limited, thank goodness) was Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli’s refusal to resign as attorney general after he began campaigning. I agree with Cuccinelli’s decision then, but I’m wondering what’s keeping McDonnell in office now?

Shouldn’t he resign to spend more time with the family? It would certainly be novel to have the husband stand silently in support at the news conference while the wife explains how she created the scandal.

When asked about a McDonnell resignation, Cuccinelli tactfully replied, ““That’s a question for the governor,” but he did add the controversy has become “a distraction.”

“Distraction” is putting it mildly. If Cuccinelli is defeated in November, McDonnell will bear a large part of the blame. Should the scandal continue there is a very real possibility independents will vote against Republicans to register their revulsion with McDonnell’s conduct and disgusted conservatives won’t vote at all.

That would mean the flim–flam man, Terry McAuliffe, is the new governor, but with a Clinton crony at least the public knows what it is getting. Obviously, Democrats are already calling for a resignation in an effort to make it an issue later in the campaign. Taking their advice would actually turn the tables and remove a powerful McAuliffe campaign issue.

Republican know–it–alls will respond that it’s still early and the public isn’t following the race yet. And besides, McDonnell isn’t on the ticket. But that’s wrong. The Washington Post is on this like the IRS on the TEA party. Big Watch Bob is a genuine crisis discovered by the Post, not a made up controversy like “macaca” and we know how that turned out.

As the election approaches the Post will pepper Cuccinelli with questions regarding McDonnell’s “culture of corruption” and its impact on his campaign. It will inflate Cuccinelli’s lack of judgment with regard to accepting vacation housing from Star Scientific’s Williams to complete equivalence with McDonnell’s total sellout. Post opinion writers will rehash the entire sordid story in the last week of the campaign. Democrats will gleefully run quotes, thoughtfully provided by Post stories, in their attack commercials.

As long as McDonnell is in office he’s going to be a problem for the Cuccinelli campaign. Lance the boil now and Cuccinelli has time to change the topic and McDonnell has time to spread some Anatabloc over family divisions.

 

*Rather than clutter up the column with constant “reported by” and other methods of attribution, I’ll state here that all the facts come from excellent reporting by Washington Post reporters Laura Vozzella, Rosalind Helderman and Carol Leonning, as do all the quotes. The analysis is mine.

Virginia Governor McDonnell Signs Voter ID Bill & Challenges Obama Justice Department

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) today issued the following statement concerning the voter identification legislation signed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell:

“Governor McDonnell’s signature of this voter ID bill is a step in the right direction for the Commonwealth of Virginia and sends a message that the integrity of each and every vote matters,” said Michael Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA). “The RNLA applauds Governor McDonnell for his leadership and support for election reform.”

In addition to signing the voter ID bill, Governor McDonnell signed an executive order.

Thielen added, “The executive order goes above and beyond addressing the concerns of opponents of voter ID, even though it has the support of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Even liberal Democrats in Rhode Island and former President Jimmy Carter support measures such as this. Should the Obama Department of Justice attack this common sense law much like it has in South Carolina and Texas, it would remove any doubt that Attorney General Eric Holder is anything but an ideologue bent on opposing election reforms irrespective of the law.”

The order does the following:

  • Send every Virginia voter an identification card before Election Day;
  • Engage in a voter outreach campaign between now and the November general election to educate voters about the changes to Virginia’s voter identification requirements; and
  • Inform general registrars and electoral boards that they may contact individuals voting provisionally without an ID about the need to provide one.

For more information on this new law or voter ID generally, check the RNLA blog at http://rnla.org/Blogs/blogs/public/default.aspx

 

This Toll, Tolls for You

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s successful effort to open the rest stops on I–95 was a very good idea. His current effort to open tollbooths on I–95 is not.

McDonnell obviously faces a dilemma: Virginia desperately needs road improvements and faces a backlog of maintenance expenses. Yet the General Assembly refuses to increase funding, much like other GOP–controlled legislatures across the country who are trying to deal with years of Democrat overspending.

McDonnell’s situation reminds me of a high school booster club president trying to buy desperately needed new uniforms. Bake sales are over–regulated. Car washes face competition from pee–wee teams. And the parents refuse to pony up additional contributions. So the wet t–shirt contest is looking better and better. The governor justifies his wet t–shirt contest that charges a toll on a road that’s already paid for by calling it a “user fee.” But this toll is simply a tax on your destination.

Goods shipped North to Prince William County via I–95 will be subject to a destination tax that goods shipped to Petersburg via I–85 will avoid. The same goes for travelers to those destinations.

McDonnell has received permission to put one tollbooth on the North Carolina border and the second South of Fredericksburg. Drivers will soon discover that both locations will function as construction zones that never go away. Even with E–ZPass there will be new slowdowns adding the lost time insult to the increased expense injury. Strangely enough, the American Trucking Association (ATA) supports an alternative that is not only more practical and has the added bonus of being supported by business. According to the ATA, adding a few pennies to the gas tax is a more equitable and efficient way of raising road money “because it doesn’t require governments to hire workers to man toll booths or spend millions of dollars to build and maintain toll plazas.”

Virginia’s 17.5 cent a gallon gas tax has not been raised since the mid–1980’s and prospects for an increase in this century are dim even though a gas tax is a reasonable pay–as–you–go user fee on highways.

Morally superior types who operate granola–burning vehicles or only drive two days per week— to allow their electric vehicles time to recharge —will hardly pay anything at all. While modern day road warriors will pay their fair share.

Unfortunately drivers are deadlocked between Republicans who won’t raise taxes a penny and Democrats who won’t cut spending by a penny. Conservative Republicans contend the state has plenty of money and it’s time to repay the money that has been “borrowed” over the years from the highway trust fund.

In theory this is true. In practice Democrats won’t allow it to happen. You can’t even get Democrats to end subsidies for “public broadcasting” during a recession. (Although, “public broadcasting” could be part of Democrat’s long–term transportation strategy for world domination. Drivers stuck in a traffic jam could tune to NPR out of boredom and be subject to “progressive” indoctrination in spite of themselves.)

Another Republican objection is that under Obama’s leadership from behind, gas prices have approached record levels and Virginia drivers can’t afford the additional expense. This is untrue (the driver’s part not the Obama part). North Carolina’s gas tax is almost double Virginia’s, but per–gallon prices on a recent trip to Charlotte were about the same or occasionally lower than in PWC.

A better solution to transportation funding is for Republicans to lead from the front and increase the gas tax and make it a percentage instead of a fixed amount. If conservatives in state and local government can’t persuade voters that paying for highways is a core function of government then we won’t ever be able to persuade voters to stop wasting money on non–core functions.

Both arguments require the courage of your convictions in the face of kneejerk criticism. If this bit of candor is too bracing for my fellow conservatives, then let’s try the semantics approach. Republicans support cost of living increases for social security recipients and cost of living increases for government employees, so how about a cost of living increase for the gas tax?

Or Republicans could take Norman Leahy’s advice and increase a gas fee that already exists. In addition to the 17.5-cent gas tax, Virginia also charges 2.2 cents per gallon in fees. This is very low. West Virginia charges 11.7 cents in fees, in addition to 20.5 cents in gas tax. Raising the gas “fee” doesn’t make a politician any more vulnerable to the “tax raiser” charge than increasing the charge to renew your driver’s license.

Every driver uses Virginia’s roads and every driver should be responsible for paying their share. A toll on an already completed road is double taxation: once for the gas and once for the trip.