Breaking: Two Democratic Delegates resign

Bearing Drift has learned that Northern Virginia Delegate Bob Brink and Virginia Beach Delegate Algie Howell are resigning their seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Both Brink and Howell are senior members of the Democratic caucus and both serve on the House Approrpriations Commitee.  Brink was first elected in 1998 and represents portions of Arlington and Fairfax Counties.  Our sources tell us that he is resigning to take a position with the Virginia Department of Aging.

Delegate Howell was first elected in 2004 and represents portions of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  Our sources also indicate he is resigning to take a position on the Virginia Parole Board.

Both of these seats are reliably Democratic, and given the Republican supermajority in the House of Delegates, these losses won’t have a demonstrable impact on the partisanship of the body.  They do open up two seats on House Appropriations.

Facts aside, let’s think about this for a minute.  Let’s ask the same questions the Democrats have been asking about the Phil Puckett situation.

Why would these two senior Delegates choose to resign after the first session of two year term?  Why now?

While both have been reliable Democrats, having both of them gone and replaced with members of the House whom the Governor could recruit and groom is good for him. Could there be a quid pro quo here? Resign and I’ll make sure you land safely? That’s how this works, according to the Phil Puckett attackers.

If we follow the Phil Puckett narrative that has been spun, we should all be up in arms about two members of the General Assembly giving up their seats to take jobs that pay considerably more and provide them with considerably higher pensions.  Shouldn’t somebody be calling for a DOJ investigation and FOIAing the Governor?

  • Daniel

    I bet they’re retiring to get an increased pension.

    • CrabPot

      Definitely. A quick search shows they’re ages 68 and 76. Nice to have some “flexibility” in your retirement planning. Maybe the Puckett grand jury and handle a 3-fer.

    • Chris B

      As Bill Simmons says, “Keep gettin’ them checks!”

  • mezurak

    Shouldn’t somebody be calling for a DOJ investigation and FOIAing the Governor?

    Depends. Are there any emails from senior republicans working back room deals to these two? Did the Gov bypass state hiring laws to give these two special preference or create a job that didn’t exist simply to get them a big pension? Given all the microscopes, maybe they should have been like Stolle and earned it through the election process.

  • Joseph Fitzgerald

    There’s no quid pro quo, except in speculation. In the Puckett case, it was explicit. But if you feel someone should be calling for an investigation, call in one hand.

    • Chris B

      What has Puckett gotten? Doesn’t a bribe need to actually be completed for there to be actual bribery? I’m looking for a better job that pays more right now, what’s the difference? After all, Virginia IS a right to work state.

      • Joseph Fitzgerald

        What’s the difference? Puckett’s daughter will have to recuse herself in prostitution cases. Other than that, are you selling off what you’ve claimed to believe in order to get the job?

        • Chris B

          She had been voted for approval twice by the House, falling on your sword for your daughter is something we can all approve of. And is selling you beliefs something that can be prosecuted?

          Shady as hell? Yup. Illegal? Nope.

          • Joseph Fitzgerald

            Didn’t say the sale of principles was the illegal part. You’d asked what was the difference between that and your job hunt.

          • Jim Portugul

            Wait just a minute. Wasn’t a new position being created for Puckett? And, why the rush? Just look at the timing on the Puckett resignation. Whole different ball game.

        • louexis

          Well said!!!

      • JWS

        Actually, no. A bribe does not have to be “completed” for there to be a violation of federal law.

  • Alex70

    I write in defense of Senator Puckett, a selfless and righteous individual, who–I recently have learned–is guided by 1) the BIBLE and 2) FAMILY.

    ??At first, I confess that I believed liberal-media inferences that his decision to abruptly resign his seat and hand the Senate over to the Republicans in the middle of crucial budget negotiations in a special session almost certainly was largely motivated by a slush-fund (Tobacco Commission) bribe ginned up by notorious Republican fixer Terry Kilgore. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.) I mean who wouldn’t like to write the job description for their newly created position, have a state car and cell phone, and pull in a fat? paycheck!

    And wouldn’t Puckett’s daughter have been eligible to be appointed to that judgeship if he’d resigned after the session? (Note: the Republican candidate to replace Puckett has a sister who’s a judge.)

    This morning, however, I read a convincing interview that swept away my vile and cynical suspicions. I extract key portions here:

    ??In talking about his political decisions, both past and present, Puckett says he has always been guided by his faith…Prayer led him to a Bible verse that defined his service in the Senate.??“That verse was Matthew 5:16, which says: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,’” Puckett said. “God led me to that verse when I made my first decision to run for Senate and those are the words I strove to have define my term there.”

    Puckett contends that his decision was not made as part of any deal and that the timing, though not in the best interest of his party, was due only to his own private family issues.??

    During his interview…Puckett’s particular family issues were not open for discussion, but he said his decision to step down was not rash. Instead, it was the product of months of contemplation and ?prayer, in which he was again led by his faith and scriptures to solidify his decision. The decision was that he must take care of family responsibilities while using his time in the best way possible.

    http://www.tricities.com/news/article_3fd1ef62-f378-11e3-9d73-0017a43b2370.html

    Alex Leidholdt??
    Harrisonburg

    • MD Russ

      Alex,

      Gag me with a spoon. That has to be the most ludicrous comment from you that I have ever read and destroys any credibility that you ever had with this reader. Why didn’t you just adopt Flip Wilson’s favorite one-liner and say, “Da Debil made him do it!”

      The Scriptures also command that slaves should be loyal to their masters, that women are the property of their husbands, that two men shall not lay together, and (my personal favorite) that if something you observe with your eye offends you then you should put out your eye. Should Puckett also be guided by those passages?

      • Alex70

        Dear MD,

        I’m shocked—shocked—that I ever had any credibility with you to begin with!

        Senator Puckett’s explanation/rationale should—in addition to the BIBLE and FAMILY, should have also included PATRIOTISM (cue Kate Smith). That way he could have invoked a perfect trifecta of refuges for scoundrels.

        Have a nice day,
        Alex

        • MD Russ

          You are not a very astute reader, Alex, because I have agreed with your comments and recommended them many times on this blog.

          And, you didn’t answer my question, Professor. Are you now back tracking on the “contemplation and prayer” nonsense?

          • Alex70

            Dear MD,

            Don’t tell anyone, but I wasn’t being serious in my original comment.

            And I am an astute reader–I read and think carefully about many of the comments you make on this blog.

            Best wishes,

            A.

      • Donna Martin

        If this man’s wife is dying and he wants to stay home with her I think that’s the most wonderful thing a person can do. I have yet to meet a Democrat with a conscious or feelings for anyone else. All they can do is make fun of someones religion or spew hatred for Republicans. It is beyond me how they sleep at night. If I hear that “credibility” word one more time I’m going to gag myself. Like you have any credibility with your disgusting post. Obviously you are not married or have anyone you love. You’ve just a sad bitter person with an axe to grind.

        • MD Russ

          ???

          • Alex70

            First time I’ve seen you speechless. I think you should take this advice to heart. A few months of contemplation and ?prayer should do the trick.

          • MD Russ

            There is a difference between speechless and baffled, Alex. I’m not sure that this writer is even responding to me or mistakenly replied to someone else’s comment. I have no idea how she got the idea that Puckett’s wife is dying nor can I imagine why she thinks that I am a Democrat.

            BTW, she doesn’t know how to spell “conscience.” But I suspect that is the least of her worries.

          • Alex70

            I’ve seen several reports that Mrs. Puckett may be ill. If that’s the case, I know all of us send her our best wishes. I’m slightly puzzled, however, as to how assuming a full-time job as second-in-command of the Tobacco Commission would have provided Mr. Puckett with more time with his family than a part-time job as a senator.

            And I am very, very, very hard pressed to understand why he couldn’t have waited just a few days to resign. His daughter’s nomination would not then have been on hold due to the senate’s “tradition.”

            Mrs. Puckett recently assisted her husband when (on a Sunday) he–without prior notice—submitted his resignation and departed Richmond.

            “On June 8, he and his wife quietly cleaned out his Senate office on Capitol Square. He asked Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar to meet him there, and he presented her with his resignation letter, effective the next day.”

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/e-mails-outline-turmoil-at-va-tobacco-panel-over-pucketts-hiring/2014/06/27/acece938-fdf7-11e3-932c-0a55b81f48ce_story.html?tid=hpModule_13097a0c-868e-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394

            On a personal note: I’m very happy to have heard reports that you are coming over to my side (joining the Democratic Party), even if you are a “sad and bitter person.”

          • MD Russ

            Alex,

            I think that I have underestimated you. However, I would rather be dragged naked through broken glass than to be either a Democrat or a Republican, “Donna Martin” notwithstanding.

            Peace.

  • louexis

    Brian you take 2 delegates that don’t affect the majority rule in the House and try to link them to ex senator Pluckett who upset the senate majority for personal gain and try to link them together. Pluckett defected under great pressure from somewhere and was offered a republican tilted job that he later turned down because it made what happened too obvious. I hope you wrote this with tongue in cheek because otherwise you are showing your partisanship and not your intelligence

    • Stephen Spiker

      “upset for personal gain” … “defected under great pressure”…

      I don’t think you actually know what happened. He resigned his seat. That’s it.

      • louexis

        Are you naive or you can’t see the trees for the forest? No member of a political party does what Plucket did just for personal reasons and why is their so much controversy about it. He did it without regard for his political party. How come he was offered a job on the tobacco commission, a private non government board and later did not accept the job because there was so much controversy.Would you be so simplistic if the roles were reversed?

        • Samuel E Morrison

          Relax. His wife is dying. This has been known about privately in the GA for quite some time. That’s why McAuliffe was tying to so hard in vain to stop him from resigning. He was trying to assure him that the budget situation would soon be settled so he could go back home and be with his family. He didn’t buy it, so he resigned. Kilgore is practically his neighbor, he knew about Puckett’s wife and tried to offer him a job closer to home. Timing looked horrible, but if god forbid his wife dies then words will never be able to do justice to how small minded and petty everyone accusing him of corruption will look.

        • Stephen Spiker

          Yes, he did what he did without considering the feelings of his fellow Democrats. That doesn’t make what he did illegal, or even wrong. Just politically inconvenient for some people.

          • louexis

            So according to you Senator Pluckett is just a God fearing man who followed his biblical conscious to do what he did. How about the fact that Republican Senator Kilgore chairs the tobacco commission that Pluckett was offered a seat on. I wonder what their private conversations sounded like and then Pluckett refused the seat maybe because it looked like what it was “A Bribe” I wonder if you would be so high minded if the shoe was on the other foot!!!

        • Muggs37

          I wonder if it wouldn’t just be possible he resigned for exactly the reason he gave? Or, another thought – Senator Puckett is a good man and has been known as a Democrat with a conscience. Maybe he just got disgusted with the antics of the new admin.?

          • louexis

            I think this one reply fits both your comments.

            So according to you Senator Pluckett is just a God fearing man who followed his biblical conscious to do what he did. How about the fact that Republican Senator Kilgore chairs the tobacco commission that Pluckett was offered a seat on. I wonder what their private conversations sounded like. Then Pluckett refused the seat maybe because it looked like what it was “A Bribe” I wonder if you would be so high minded if the shoe was on the other foot!!!

          • Guest

            ok

  • louexis

    Didn’t Sen Stolle resign to take a job as Sheriff of Virginia Beach? Maybe they should prosecute him. This is a common practice of both parties but not under the Plucket conditions

    • Chris B

      I believe he got elected to that position

      • louexis

        Your right but I think he ran for sheriff while he was still a senator. Stolle switched for the pension.

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  • Jerel C. Wilmore

    Brian, the legal concept you are looking for is “undue advantage” or “unfair advantage.” In resigning, Phil Puckett knowingly provided a tremendous undue advantage to the Republicans in the General Assembly, one that they did not win in an election.

    The interesting angle that I’ve written about at my own blog is that it is Puckett who is really the briber here. Puckett provided something of value and he was promised two official acts in exchange for his resignation.

    If Puckett and the Republican legislators involved in this aren’t prosecuted, then Phil Hamilton ought to let out of jail and sent home with an apology, because what Puckett and his Republican accomplices did is basically identical to what Hamilton was prosecuted and imprisoned for.

    Read the e-mails for yourselves: this was a premeditated criminal act.

    http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/local/e-mails-show-puckett-job-in-works-before-resignation-from-va-senate/1061/

    If you have any similar documents for Brink or Howell, by all means, submit them to the FBI.

    • Come on. There’s no criminal act here, and I have read all of the emails. They were talking to Puckett about a job – no different than what I’m sure Bob and Algie were doing before they resigned their seats. There’s not much in there other than a draft job description and some scheduling emails. That’s about it.

      Nobody bribed anybody. Puckett appeared to be engaging in the same kind of pension padding that everyone seems to do when they leave the legislature after a long tenure.

      As for this being a “premeditated criminal act,” there’s nothing in the emails that comes remotely close to establishing that.

      • Jerel C. Wilmore

        We’ll see what the grand jury says; either way we’ll have to live with their decision.

  • Pam Brown

    Brian,
    Respectfully….please get the districts right. Algie Howell in 90th HOD is not in Va Beach. It’s in Norfolk, and majority minority.
    A Republican cannot get elected in this district-, we tried to tell Jason Call that in 2009, but he did not listen.
    The best we can hope–is Billy Cook takes a shot at this. I think he is the best candidate.
    Pam Brown

  • Pam Brown

    As additional info–Winsome Sears was only able to get elected in the 90th HOD because the Virginian Pilot spent every day beating up Billy Robinson on the front page.

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