In the grand classical musical, “Gigi,” Maurice Chevalier as Honore sings to Hermione Gingold as Mamita.
Maurice starts, “We met at nine,” Hermione corrects, “we met at eight.”
Maurice again, “I was on time;” Hermione, “you were late.”
Maurice’s finishes, “Ah yes, I remember it well.”
Our Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, could sing a duet, a kind of odd coupling, with Jonnie Williams, the Star Scientific CEO.
Ken might start, “we were at the beach,” and Jonnie, “we were in New York.”
Ken, “We’ve no ethical breach;” Jonnie, “Are you a dork?”
Ken, “Ah yes, I remember it well.”
Ken’s insouciance about remembering Jonnie’s favors, including those Ken solicited, is impossible to credit as believable.
En route to New York, Ken was flying “like on a G-6,” on Jonnie’s private jet, but Ken didn’t disclose it in his filings. He invited the local Commonwealth Attorney in Richmond to review his conduct and decide if he forgot to file or not.
Ken flew to Kentucky on Jonnie’s Favors-to-the-Elected air express. Ken should have remembered to disclose that as well. Again, let’s have the Commonwealth Attorney consider whether Ken remembered that.
There was $10,000 of stock, that’s 8,660 shares, that Ken held in Jonnie’s company, and $6,711.00 worth of Jonnie’s questionable product (that Ken received gratis). Ken didn’t remember to disclose these matters. Something else for the Commonwealth Attorney to consider.
A fair question is what in the world could Jonnie possibly get for favors given Ken, a shareholder in his company?
While Ken has been receiving favors from pal Jonnie, and holding shares in Jonnie’s company, Jonnie’s company was locked in litigation with the Commonwealth of Virginia, represented by Ken’s office, over whether Jonnie’s company has to pay an $860,000 tax assessment in Mecklenburg County.
Not that Ken thought he had the favor-giving Jonnie over a barrel, but Ken did ask Jonnie to host Ken’s Thanksgiving family dinner, worth about $1,500 or so, at Jonnie’s posh mountain retreat.
Jonnie let Ken catch a summer vacation at his home too, and that was worth about $3,000 for the week.
The Richmond Commonwealth Attorney, seemingly a not too distant cousin of Chief Inspector Jacque Clouseau, didn’t find anything suspicious enough in Ken’s odd coupling of public business with private favors.
(But steal a loaf of bread from the Richmond Giant and the Commonwealth Attorney will make you feel like Jean Val Jean I suspect.)
The measure of a politician of character, whether a candidate or elected official, is, first and foremost, how he resists the corrupting influence of contributors and favor givers. The higher the office, the worse the pressure, the stronger the character required.
When an elected official serves a hidden agent, he deprives us of the most basic requirement of public office, impartiality. Such an Attorney General or Governor is untrustworthy, as we rightly suspect that neither case law, nor statutes, nor common sense, nor fundamental fairness matter, only access to the official matters – and that comes at a certain price.
We all know that old saying, once shame on you, twice shame on me.
We have no reason to expect Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to grow an ethical backbone between now and November.
So we shouldn’t elect him Governor and give him even more authority than what he’s enjoyed and abused as our outgoing Attorney General.
If we bar the door to the Governor’s Mansion to Mr. Cuccinelli, we’ll save ourselves testing again how well Ken remembers the favors bestowed upon him. We’ll also avoid the national disgrace and public spectacle of another corrupt Governor.
Let’s give Ken the vacation he so sorely needs – but let’s have him pay for it out of his own pocket this time.