Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Busy Snow Day: Indictments and Anti-Discrimination

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
While most of the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern states have been pummeled by the season's biggest snowstorm -- dubbed a bombogenesis by some meteorologists -- political life goes on in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Topic A today has been the indictment by a federal grand jury of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on multiple counts of corruption-related crimes, including honest-services wire fraud, obstruction of a federal proceeding, and making false statements.

(Left-libertarian lawyer Harvey Silverglate has written about the vagueness of the federal "honest services" statute on the Volokh Conspiracy, which just today found a new home at the Washington Post.)

I wrote about reactions to the charges against the McDonnells on Examiner.com. Among other things, the 43-page indictment has an intriguing appendix of sorts:
The indictment includes a colorfully descriptive list of items subject to forfeiture, including a Silver Rolex Watch engraved with "71st Governor of Virginia"; one baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt; one Heather Mackenzie water color and frame; two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes; black Rebecca Minkoff shoes; and 30 boxes of Anatabloc®, the dietary supplement at the center of the scandal that has come to be known as “Giftgate.”

Later in the day -- on the cusp of the evening -- McDonnell made a public statement that was broadcast on NBC12 in Richmond.  He was accompanied by his wife, one of his daughters, and his son-in-law.  It's somewhat refreshing to see the wife of a politician standing by his side as he makes a proclamation of his innocence, without her seething inside about the way he's cheated on her with a high-priced prostitute or an Israeli boy toy.

In other Virginia political news, earlier this week a state Senate committee killed a bill -- SB 248, copatroned by Donald McEachin and Adam Ebbin -- that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in state employment (not private sector employment).

I wrote about this issue on Bearing Drift today, asking whether GOP lawmakers are shooting themselves in the foot when they oppose popular legislation like this.
Four years ago, when similar legislation was under consideration by the General Assembly, I spoke in favor of SB66 as a representative of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia I noted that the RLCVA had endorsed the bill “because we believe it is not the place of the government to discriminate on irrelevant characteristics in employment regarding otherwise law-abiding citizens and taxpayers.”

I added that “if this bill extended to the private sector, I would not support it, and neither would our organization but it is also important to note that the private sector is way ahead of the government in terms of non-discrimination policy. Private businesses recognize that non-discrimination is good business practice. Government is always sluggish and slow to develop ideas like this.”
I noted that this position is at odds with general public opinion, pointing to recent polls by Rasmussen Reports and TargetPoint Consulting. That latter pollster explained:
An overwhelming majority of Americans –including’Republicans – support a federal law that protects gays, lesbians and transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace. Here – unlike other surveys on similar topics – we asked specifically about federal legislation: 68% of registered voters support federal protection, with only 21% oppose. And indeed, intensity here very much lies with the supporters, as 46% strongly favor the law while only 15% strongly oppose it. When it comes to Republicans, 56% support a federal anti-discrimination law, while only 32% oppose.
That same poll revealed that support for a federal ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) stands at 65 percent.

Read the whole thing here.

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