With former Gov. Bob McDonnell starting to serve a prison sentence on Feb. 9 after being convicted of federal corruption charges, Arlington’s state legislators are taking aim at the state laws surrounding political gifts.
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has introduced SB 1289, called the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act. If passed, the bill would establish an independent commission on ethics, which would review all government disclosure forms, conduct random audits of legislators and grant waivers for certain gifts. It would also limit “tangible” gifts to $100 and intangible gifts, like flights and meals, to $250.
“Having a commission gives real teeth to our efforts and shows we’re serious about enforcement,” Ebbin said yesterday. “I’ve been working on this for a few years, for common sense ways to increase transparency and to penalize things that are beneath the standards of our public officials.”
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of receiving more than $177,000 in impermissible gifts from a high-profile donor, and the former governor and attorney general was sentenced to two years in prison. Despite the conviction, McDonnell wasn’t charged with corruption in any state case.
“You can drive a Mack truck through Virginia’s ethics laws,” Del. Alfonso Lopez said.
ARLnow.com spoke to several Arlington state legislators yesterday, and all of them pegged ethics reform as the biggest issue the General Assembly will face in its 2015 session. McDonnell’s conviction has helped drum up efforts for reform on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m confident there will be bipartisan support for increased reform, it’s just a matter of the details, and I’m a pretty detail-oriented guy,” Ebbin said. “I’m going to work hard to make sure the most effective elements of this legislation are adopted, I’m going to do everything in my power.”
Ebbin says his bill would aim to curb “unlimited dinners” for lawmakers and “private jets to golf tournaments,” which he finds “reprehensible.” There would be opportunities for public officials to get waivers if trips are educational or fact-finding, he said.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) knew his work trying to secure in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants wasn’t over last spring when Attorney General Mark Herring declared some “DREAMers” eligible for in-state tuition immediately.
The decision allowed children of undocumented immigrant who are legal residents because of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to receive in-state tuition if they meet other state residency requirements.
In this legislative session, there are bills in the House of Delegates and the state Senate that aim to undo Herring’s action. Lopez had previously introduced bills every year to do what Herring did in one fell swoop; now, he’s moving to block the new bills.
“We knew we’d have to defend against Tea Party attacks,” Lopez told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We assumed it would come. We hoped it wouldn’t, but now it has.”
The bills are HB1356, introduced by Loudoun County’s Del. David Ramadan (R), and SB722, introduced by Sen. Richard Black (R), also from Loudoun. Ramadan is himself an immigrant: he was born in Beirut, Lebanon, before immigrating to the United States.
Both bills declare that DACA-protected immigrants “do not have the capacity to remain in Virginia indefinitely,” and therefore are ineligible for in-state tuition. The bill applies to DACA children, those with temporary protected status — political refugees from foreign countries — and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
“To think that Sen. Black would want to take the refugees of civil wars and deny them an opportunity of education… that is a huge step backwards.,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) told ARLnow.com.
Republicans control both houses in the General Assembly, and with a 67-32-1 advantage in the House of Delegates, so Lopez knows he faces a steep climb in trying to beat the bills.
“We’ve talked to the attorney general’s office, we’ve talked to the governor’s office,” Lopez said. “We also are organizing through education and religious groups, getting them to lobby in opposition against these bills. There are many groups around the state making calls who are saying this is the wrong attack to take, not only from a fairness and a moral issue to take, but also an economic development and job growth [perspective].”
“I think we’ll either be successful and able to defeat these bills in subcommittee or there will be a heck of a fight on the floor of the Senate and the House,” Lopez continued. “Even if by some miracle these bills pass, I don’t believe the governor will sign them into law. I think he’ll veto, but I don’t know.”
Lopez said the issue impacts “my family, my friends and my neighbors,” and highlights the importance of providing in-state tuition for the state’s economic growth. Arlington residents will directly be affected, like Dayana Torres, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax who commutes to school from Arlington.
“I see being able to pay the in-state tuition rate as an essential benefit for my education that my parents and I have paid into through taxes,” Torres said in an email to ARLnow.com. She is the president of the Mason Dreamers and co-founder and former president of Dreamers of Virginia. “I affiliate with the Republican party in many key political topics, so it is always difficult for me to see Republicans in office actively trying to reverse decisions that benefit my family and I since we have been paying taxes and desperately need the in-state-tuition rates.”
The three state senators and four delegates that represent Arlington in the Virginia General Assembly have sent a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne in support of the Columbia Pike streetcar project.
The letter calls out County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt for their continued opposition to the project. On Friday, Garvey laid out alternative uses for the hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local transportation funding that are being directed toward the streetcar.
“We strongly disagree with the efforts of Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt to deprive Arlington of those state funds dedicated to the streetcar project,” the letter states.
The letter also cites the return on investment study the county funded that predicted more than $3 billion in economic impact in the first 30 years of the streetcar system. It refers to the support the streetcar has already received from state officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The letter was signed by state Sens. Janet Howell, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Patrick Hope, Rob Krupicka and Rip Sullivan.
The full letter is posted, after the jump. (more…)
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As a member of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation and long-time resident of neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, I have been a strong advocate for implementation of the Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan adopted after many years of planning and community involvement — a fundamental component of which is a modern streetcar system.
I am pleased that our governor, after receiving broad approval (nearly 72 percent) from Arlington voters as a candidate, has strongly supported key transit projects like the streetcar.
Virginia’s Transportation Secretary has repeatedly praised the streetcar as a sound example for leveraging transportation investments to enhance economic competitiveness, noting that implementation of a seamless streetcar system between Columbia Pike and Crystal City will provide significantly more mobility benefits than enhanced bus service.
Just this past week, Virginia’s Director of Rail and Public Transportation told the Washington Post that the state remains “fully committed” to providing $65 million from a state funding stream dedicated solely to fixed guideway rail projects. This brings the total state streetcar investment to more than $200 million.
Why is the Pike Neighborhood Plan and streetcar component important? It is how we will:
- accommodate anticipated growth along Columbia Pike;
- protect Pike neighborhoods and affordable housing units;
- create important links to Crystal City/Pentagon City on one end of the Pike and Bailey’s Crossroads on the other;
- create a “main street” feel with appropriately scaled buildings and dining/retail options;
- provide street-level transit options for people to visit restaurants, libraries, community centers, shopping outlets, and office buildings;
- and generate economic development and tax revenues we will need to build schools and acquire open space.
The streetcar system will not just create additional commuting options. It will foster livable and healthy communities with robust businesses, create destinations easily accessible to Arlingtonians and revenue-generating tourists, and improve our quality of life.
I am disappointed that the carefully-planned and long-needed investments along Columbia Pike are now being treated as a political football. That is why I oppose the Garvey-Vihstadt plan announced on ARLnow.com that would cause Arlington to forfeit millions of dollars of state funding.
And I am disappointed that the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would similarly renege on commitments that Arlington County has made to help revitalize Crystal City after the poorly-planned federal decision to move thousands of military jobs to Mark Center and Fort Belvoir with the attendant losses of many more private sector jobs.
In the name of saving some unspecified amount of money on the streetcar by using inferior bus service, the Garvey-Vihstadt plan suggests that we can instead fund major Metro improvements. That makes no financial sense.
The Metro expansion projects alluded to in the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would, according to the long-range strategic plan released last year by Metro, cost many billions of dollars — many times the streetcar’s cost. A new Rosslyn Metro station — $1 billion. A second Potomac tunnel — $3.3 billion. An Orange/Silver express track to a second Rosslyn Metro station — $2.3 billion.
These may all be worthy projects, but suggesting that even Arlington’s share of the cost would become feasible merely by killing the streetcar is irresponsible. (more…)
The bill addresses “the growing problem of notaries who practice law without a license” in immigrant communities. It does so by prohibiting notaries who are not attorneys or otherwise accredited from offering legal and immigration advice.
“In many Latin American countries ‘notario publicos’ (notary publics) provide legal advice, but U.S. notaries who are not also attorneys are not authorized to share this role,” explains a media advisory about the bill signing. “In Virginia, there have been cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice.”
Two of the chief sponsors of the legislation, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) are expected to join McAuliffe at the bill signing ceremony, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the new Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) announced this afternoon that he’s ending his campaign for Congress.
Lopez was one of nearly a dozen candidates in the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) His campaign issued the following press release today.
Thanking supporters and pledging to continue his work to expand opportunity, Delegate Alfonso Lopez announced today the end of his campaign for Congress:
“I got into this race because even though on paper the economy is doing well, too many people are still struggling to make ends meet. Everyone deserves the opportunity to build a better future.
I am proud of how my campaign resonated with many voters in the Eighth District, especially new Americans, and that we assembled a coalition of many generous supporters. However, after we closed the fundraising quarter, I took the time to evaluate, with my team, the position of my campaign. It is clear to me that I do not have the resources necessary to run the campaign we wanted and that the people of the Eighth District deserved. With that in mind, I do not want to ask my supporters to continue to make the sacrifices of time, treasure and talent that they have so generously made thus far.
Although my campaign for Congress comes to an end today, my work to expand opportunity for all Virginians continues. In the coming weeks, I will lay out a new plan for my work to expand opportunity here in Virginia. We must do more in Richmond to ensure that everyone has a chance at the American Dream.
The voters of the Eighth District have many qualified and talented candidates to choose from on June 10 — many of whom I know well. I am confident that our next representative will fight for the progressive values of Northern Virginia.”
Lopez’s fellow local Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Del. Patrick Hope, is also running for Moran’s seat. Hope issued the following statement this afternoon regarding Lopez’s decision.
Alfonso Lopez has been a leader for environmentalists, gun safety advocates, and for new Americans in Richmond and during this campaign for the 8th Congressional District. I want to publicly congratulate him for running a strong campaign. I’ve seen Alfonso’s tenacity when we served together in Richmond, and we are lucky to have him as part of the Arlington County delegation. Alfonso has a bright future in politics, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) announced this morning that he will be running for the seat in the House of Representatives being vacated by the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Lopez is another name in a crowded Democratic field for the seat Moran has held since 1991. By running, he joins state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Virginia Democratic Party Chair Charniele Herring, Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Mark Sickles former Lieutenant Gov. Don Beyer, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Bruce Shuttleworth. The Democratic primary will be held in June.
Lopez represents the 49th District in the House of Delegates, which covers much of Arlington south of Columbia Pike, including Pentagon City, and the Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners areas of Fairfax County. He was elected to the House in 2011 and re-elected last fall.
In his campaign announcement, Lopez laid out a platform of “equal opportunity,” abortion rights and the environment. Below is his complete campaign press release:
With Congressman Jim Moran’s retirement, Northern Virginia is losing an important and effective advocate in Washington.
When it comes to continuing the fight on Capitol Hill to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans, protect a woman’s right to choose, preserve our environment and natural resources, and improve our quality of life in Northern Virginia, our next representative must be a proven fighter for our progressive values.
With more than 20 years of experience working before Congress, the federal government and at the highest levels of state government on the issues critical to the people of Virginia’s Eighth District, I have the proven track record necessary to get to work on day one.
The son of a public school teacher and an immigrant who came to this country with only $260 in his pocket, I was instilled with the values of hard work, service and that every person deserves a fair shake in life. Those values are what drive me in everything I do.
Those values are why I continue to fight for the middle class family sitting around the dinner table wondering how they’re going to pay for college; the new graduate struggling to get a job in today’s economy; the recent immigrants striving for a better life for themselves and their children; and the single mother who has to work a second job to pay the rent.
That’s why as a delegate, I championed legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund, fought to save critical social safety net programs like the Arlington Free Clinic, worked to preserve funding for Child Advocacy Centers that address the needs of child abuse victims, and helped expand Medicaid coverage for immigrant mothers and children.
That’s why during my time in the Small Business Administration I worked with administration officials and Congress to pass the Small Business Jobs Act, to make sure small business owners had access to the tools they needed to create jobs and lead in innovation.
There are many exciting opportunities ahead for Northern Virginia. I hope to be your advocate in Congress so that together we can continue to make Northern Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.
County Seeks “Great Design” Nominations — Arlington County’s is accepting submissions for great design in new construction, renovations, additions or adaptive re-use projects. It’s part of the biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, which recognizes people who do design work that enhances the county’s built environment. Applications can be submitted online until 5:00 p.m. on December 2. An independent panel of architecture, urban design, historic preservation, public art and landscape design professionals will examine the nominations and select several winners. Previous winners include Northside Social, the Reed School/Westover Library, and the Gleason/Pries residence. [Arlington County]
Preservation Arlington Highlights Bruner Home — This week, Preservation Arlington looks at the Brumer house in its “Preserved and Developed” series. In 1934, Dr. Roland Bruner purchased the property at 2018 S. Glebe Road in the Nauck neigbhorhood. Only two black doctors had been practicing in Arlington at that time, so Brumer opened a private practice in his house to help serve the black community. He worked up until his death in 1978, and a historical marker now stands near his home. [Preservation Arlington]
Close Election Could Benefit VA DREAM Act — Fresh off a victory in Tuesday’s election, Del. Alfonso Lopez plans to make enactment of the DREAM Act his number one priority for the Virginia General Assembly session. It appears the narrow victories of Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) and Del. Thomas Rust (R) may help the prospects for such legislation. Lopez and Rust had combined similar pieces of legislation last year that made it through the House Committee on Education on a 17-4 vote, but stalled because the House Appropriations Committee did not act on the measure before the session ended. If the bill makes it to McAuliffe, he is expected to sign it into law. [Sun Gazette]
Rosslyn BID Collects and Donates Marine Corps Marathon Clothing — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) collected and redistributed 968 pounds of clothes to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). The clothes were items such as hats, gloves, sweatshirts and pants that runners shed while passing through Rosslyn during the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27. The BID had the clothing cleaned and gave it to A-SPAN to distribute to people in need.
This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).
Here is the unedited response from 49th District candidate Alfonso Lopez:
I currently have the privilege of serving our community in the Virginia House of Delegates. I represent the 49th District, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and up Route 7 to Seven Corners.
Two years ago, I asked for your vote so that I could fight for our values in Richmond, protect the social safety-net upon which my parents and so many others have relied, and address many of the biggest issues facing our community: transportation, affordable housing, education and job creation.
As your Delegate, I have worked to restore funding in Virginia’s budget for Free Health Clinics, such as the Arlington Free Clinic, that provide critical health care for our uninsured neighbors. I was also able to restore funding for our network of Child Advocacy Centers, which bring together health care professionals, social workers, and investigators to address the needs of child abuse victims in Virginia.
Building on the work of former Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, I successfully sponsored legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund and was named the Virginia Housing Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Leader. As a revolving loan fund, the Trust Fund will help create affordable housing and address homelessness throughout the Commonwealth. While we secured $8 million in funding through the budget process, the Trust Fund will need a permanent, dedicated source of revenue in order to effectively meet the needs of Virginians. Over the next two years, finding a steady source of revenue will be one of my top priorities. (more…)
Issues like the Columbia Pike streetcar and the housing authority referendum were at the forefront last night during the Arlington Civic Federation’s annual candidates’ forum.
The debate between County Board member Jay Fisette and Green Party challenger Audrey Clement was the night’s most divisive, with Clement challenging the streetcar project and the Board’s fiscal policies.
“I pledge to raise no taxes,” Clement said, “Repeal last year’s tax increase… and authorize an inspector general for the county’s budget.”
Clement again voiced her support for the referendum to create a housing authority, which Fisette and other Board members oppose. Fisette defended the Board’s actions, asserting that the tax increases were largely to pay for the increase in school enrollment and the streetcar “fulfills the vision of the revitalization of Columbia Pike.”
“I will ensure that Arlington continues to be a community that respects the differences among us,” he said. “I believe that there’s more to do, and I have more to give.”
Six races were represented during the forum: Fisette’s Board seat, James Lander’s School Board seat, and the 45th, 47th, 48th, and 49th District races for the House of Delegates. Lander and Del. Robert Brink (D-48) are running unopposed, and each gave two-minute speeches and took one question from the floor. Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) did not have an opponent to debate at the forum after it was revealed that independent candidate Jeffrey Engle was not in attendance.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and Libertarian challenger Laura Delhomme — participating in her first debate — fielded questions about affordable housing, wind energy and their thoughts on the Republican state ticket. No Republican is running for any seat, state or local, in Arlington.
“I’m not a socially liberal Republican, I’m not a fiscally conservative Democrat,” said Delhomme, who suggested repealing the state income tax and the Virginia Marriage Amendment.
Hope advocated for transferring more of Virginia’s energy from coal and natural gas to wind power and discussed how difficult it was to make progress in the General Assembly.
“In my first four years in office, I’ve learned that change can be very difficult,” Hope said. “Getting government out of our bedrooms and our doctor’s offices has divided our state and our parties.”
In the final debate of the night, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), running in his first re-election bid, and Independent Green Party candidate Terrence Modglin, showed the starkest disagreement, particularly on abortion. Modglin supports greater restrictions on abortion.
“I think the laws and regulations enacted, the intent of them was to, regardless of what the language was, reduce the number of abortions in Virginia and I think that’s a good thing in terms of public policy,” Modglin said.
Following Modglin’s response, Lopez looked slightly taken aback. He shook his head before he responded.
“A woman’s right to choose is non-negotiable,” Lopez said. “The [transvaginal ultrasound] legislation put up…was a travesty. It made us a laughing stock on the national stage. I will definitely fight these backdoor ways of reducing a person’s access to contraception.”
Election Day is on Nov. 5. The forum, held at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel auditorium, is organized every year as the unofficial start to Arlington’s fall campaign season.
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Last night, the campy made-for-TV movie Sharknado took Twitter by storm.
In one portion of the film, a scene clearly shows an Arlington police cruiser and fire engine.
At publication time, an Arlington police spokesman couldn’t be reached to confirm whether the shot was filmed exclusively for the movie or if it was simply stock footage appropriated by the producers.
Several Arlington notables were active on Twitter during the film. Among them: NBC News correspondent and Arlington resident Chuck Todd, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rob Krupicka.
Photo courtesy @rickolivieri
WJLA and NewsChannel 8 for Sale — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) has been offered for sale by Allbritton Communications. The company is seeking to sell WJLA and its companion cable channel NewsChannel 8 in order to continue investing in new media, like its Politico website and newspaper. Disney, owner of the ABC television network, is thought to be a likely buyer. [WBJ, Washington Post, Politico]
Brink, Lopez Announce Reelection Bids — Dels. Bob Brink and Alfonso Lopez announced their bids for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. As part of his speech, Lopez made fun of a Republican effort in the state legislature to study the creation of a Virginia-based currency. Lopez joked that he wanted his face on the Virginia $5 bill and Brink’s on the $10 bill, so that “in Virginia it would cost a Brink and a Lopez to buy a pizza.” [Blue Virginia]
‘Over the Edge’ Fundraiser in Crystal City — Today, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., people will be rappelling 15 stories down the Hilton Crystal City at 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway as part of a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Among those scheduled to go “over the edge” today is Washington Nationals mascot Screech. The fundraiser will also run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). [Event Calendar, Special Olympics Virginia]
County Sells $206 Million in Bonds — Arlington County sold $206 million in bonds on Tuesday. The bonds were sold at a low 2.5 percent interest rate. The refunding of older bonds under the low rate will save the county about $5 million. [Arlington County]
Police Looking for Wallet Thief — Arlington police are looking for a man who allegedly stole a victim’s wallet in the Clarendon area last month. [ACPD]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Absentee Voting Bill Passes State Senate — The state Senate passed legislation that would allow residents age 65 and older to vote by absentee ballot without having to give an excuse. Currently, Virginians can only vote absentee if they meet one or more of the requirements on a list of reasons for not being able to make it to the polls on election day. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) introduced similar legislation that failed in the House of Delegates. [Washington Post]
Water Main Issues Continue — Repairs on the broken 30 inch water main at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street are expected to take several more days. While draining the pipe on Sunday, a significant pressure drop occurred. Customers may experience low water pressure during peak times (6:00-9:00 a.m and 5:00-9:00 p.m.) and are asked to minimize water use during those times.
Landrum Extends Ray’s Free Burger Special — Owner Michael Landrum has decided to extend the Inauguration special he had been offering at Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd) after closing Ray’s Hell Burger across the street. Customers can get one free “Li’l Devils” burger from 11:30 a.m. until the last burger is given away. “We realized that our office neighbors didn’t get a chance to participate, so we wanted to extend it another day to give them a chance,” Landrum told ARLnow.com. It is suggested that customers receiving a free burger donate $5, which will go to local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Modeled after the federal DREAM Act, Lopez’s bill (HB 1934) would provide in-state tuition at public Virginia universities for undocumented students who graduated from a Virginia high school or GED program, provided they attest to filing an application to become a permanent U.S. resident. The bill would also requires that the student and/or a parent has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years.
“A number of talented immigrant students who grow up here and graduate from Virginia high schools are undocumented — through no fault of their own,” Lopez said. “At best, they may be able to take our significant investment in their K-12 education to another state. At worst, they may decide to drop out of high school because college is not a realistic goal.”
“Virginia should be joining states such as Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma in passing the DREAM Act and opening this narrow window of opportunity for students,” he continued. “These States understand that encouraging college access and opportunities reduces high school dropout rates and saves long term costs and public benefits spending for the community.”
Lopez introduced the legislation on Wednesday after vowing last year to introduce the bill “every year until it becomes the law of the Commonwealth.”
“I am encouraged by the prospects for HB 1934 this year,” Lopez told ARLnow.com. “More importantly, I remain strongly committed to seeing that undocumented children are given the opportunity to continue their education.”
HB 1934 is now awaiting a vote in the House of Delegates Education committee.
Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot whose judicial nomination was supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), failed to receive the 51 votes necessary in the 100-member House of Delegates. Del. Bob Marshall (R), who led the charge against Thorne-Begland’s nomination, cited his public opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy 20 years ago, while still in the Navy, and his expressed support for same-sex marriage.
Thorne-Begland is “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda,” Marshall said in a press release. “Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state’ constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, argued that Thorne-Begland was rejected solely on the basis of being openly gay. He also condemned the state Senate leadership for dodging a vote on the nomination.
“The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged,” Ebbin told the Washington Post. “It’s also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn’t even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote.”
On Twitter, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), who along with Del. Patrick Hope (D) was among the 33 “yes” votes for Thorne-Begland, Tweeted about the vote in real time early yesterday morning.
“Shameful,” Lopez said. “Virginia and Mr. Thorne-Begland deserved better. I have a feeling the Commonwealth will be in national headlines again.”
Del. Bob Brink and Del. David Englin, Democrats who both represent portions of Arlington, were among the 26 lawmakers who did not cast a vote on Thorne-Begland.
Update at 1:55 p.m. — Del. Marshall and Sen. Barbara Favola (D) appeared on NewsChannel 8′s NewsTalk program this morning to discuss the judicial vote.
Update at 3:35 p.m. — Del. Brink has issued a statement to ARLnow.com regarding his absence from the voting.
Due to previously scheduled travel out of the country, I was absent for the May 14 session of the House — the first session I’ve missed in my 15 years as Delegate. The House minutes reflect that I was granted a leave of absence for this reason.
Tracy is my friend. For several weeks, after the right-wing threat to his nomination became known, along with other concerned members of the General Assembly including my colleague Adam Ebbin, we strategized on the steps needed to get him confirmed. I deeply regret that we were unsuccessful.
The rejection of this eminently well qualified lawyer, in addition to its unfairness to him, is a loss to Virginia’s justice system and another black mark on Virginia’s reputation.
It goes without saying that I would have vigorously supported and voted for Tracy if I had been present.
Photo via Office of Sen. Adam Ebbin