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Was Janet Howell’s email to NVTC a quid pro quo?

Democratic Sens. Dick Saslaw, Janet Howell and Barbara Favola all sent emails to members of the Northern Virginia Technology Council PAC when word got around that the PAC was going to endorse Ken Cuccinelli rather than Terry McAuliffe. The email from Howell, excerpted in the Washington Post [1], was scathing:

“I urge you to stop any endorsement of Cuccinelli,” state Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), told PAC leaders Friday in an e-mail. “The ramifications of his being endorsed will be huge within the Senate Democratic caucus. … The response [from legislators] will be frigid and doors will be closed [when the council seeks help with its legislative agenda]. Achieving the goals of NVTC will be difficult to impossible.”

Virginia’s Republican Senate Caucus has picked up on this [2]:

“It is outrageous and unconscionable that Senate Democrats would even hint at endangering the future legislative agenda of a group representing such a vital part of Virginia’s economy for purely partisan purposes,” declared McDougle. “Thinly-veiled threats have no place in the General Assembly.

“The Northern Virginia Technology Council and TechPAC deserve an immediate apology. Further, they should make it clear that TechPAC’s reasoned endorsement of the Attorney General will not have any effect on NVTC’s legislative agenda during the 2014 session.”

An apology is one thing. But I think we need to look at this excerpt, as reprinted in the Post, for what it appears to be: a quid pro quo.

The group makes the right endorsement, or else.

I look forward to the ethics investigation in Sen. Howell. And I do have to wonder whether there a Commonwealth’s Attorney will investigate into whether she did, indeed, make the passage of legislation contingent upon an endorsement.