Virginia GOP Bribes Democratic State Senator To Resign So They Can Stop Medicaid Expansion



The Washington Post reported on Sunday evening that State Senator Phillip Puckett, a Democrat, will resign from office Monday. Puckett is resigning so he can take on a new job as deputy director of the state’s tobacco commission, a position with significant benefits. Also, by resigning, Puckett’s daughter will apparently be in line to be confirmed for a state judgeship. With Puckett stepping away from his position, Republicans are now able to gain a 20-19 advantage in the State Senate. Previously, with Democrats and Republicans holding the same number of seats, the lieutenant governor held any tie breaking vote. Therefore, Democrats held the advantage, as the state’s Lt. Gov. is a Democrat.

Per the Post’s reporting, Republicans were able to convince Puckett to resign with these job offers for him and his daughter, essentially bribing him so the GOP can regain the Senate. Republicans want the advantage in the Senate in order to block the Medicaid expansion in the state under the Affordable Care Act. Currently, Virginia is one of 24 states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid under the provisions of the health care law. Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe won election this past November partly by promising to expand Medicaid to lower-income Virginians.

However, the GOP, which holds an advantage in the state’s House, has been in a budget standoff with Democrats over expanding health coverage and there is a threat of a state government shutdown if the Senate and House can’t agree on a budget by July 1st. The state’s House Republicans won’t budge on expanding the program, because, you know, Obama. On the other hand, the Governor and the Senate have been keen on making Medicaid available to more people. Even with Puckett gone, McAuliffe has stated that he has three other moderate Republicans in the Senate that are willing to expand Medicaid, meaning he should still have the votes necessary in the upper chamber.

The problem at this time is that two Democrats will be out of the state much of this month. With Puckett resigning, Senate Republicans are going to look to get a budget passed ASAP, hoping to catch Democrats with their pants down and force through a budget. And force many poor working people in the state to go without health coverage, because that seems like a worthwhile goal. Now that the GOP has the advantage in the Senate for the time being, the lieutenant governor can’t act as a tie breaking vote. Also, Puckett’s seat is in a Republican-leaning district, so it appears that the GOP might be able to expand their advantage when a special election is held.

McAuliffe was not very happy with Puckett when he heard the news on Sunday. Below is an excerpt from a statement he released.

“I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially those in Southwest Virginia. This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.”

It doesn’t appear that McAuliffe or Democrats can do anything about the position that Puckett will go to, even though it is a state job. The state tobacco commission’s chairman and vice-chairman are both Republicans, and the commission has final say on appointments. As for Puckett’s daughter, she is currently temporarily assigned to her position on the bench. She hadn’t been confirmed because of her father being an active Senator. With his resignation, she’ll now be confirmed to a six-year term. That is purely up to the state’s Senate.

This is how far Republicans will go to deny poor people decent health care. They’ll appeal to one man’s greed in order to negatively affect hundreds of thousands of people in their state. That seems to be the GOP in a nutshell.

36 Replies to “Virginia GOP Bribes Democratic State Senator To Resign So They Can Stop Medicaid Expansion”

  1. McAuliffe needs to get on state-wide television, day in, day out, and tell Virginians about this dirty bribery deal – at least, it will be seen as such in the eyes of Virginians who are being denied health care that they are already paying for.

    Democrats need to get out in front of this a.s.a.p. and shame-face the GOP.

    The American people tend to get upset when they are denied access to the products they are and have been paying for.

  2. this is disgraceful. seems like he is committing a ethics violation of some sort. both father and daughter should be ashamed if themselves, but they aren’t.

  3. Something tells me the republican that bribe him to retired might have just crossed the line this time because the hospitals in VA need that medicaid expansions badly. They know what help it will be on the economic something I think most of the republicans is beginning to realize in their own districts where hospitals are looking closely at closing. Republicans will soon realize that they will force the hands of this governor like congress has force the hands of the president to do things that is within his power and they will whine about it. It is sad that republicans would let the hate for a black president who have done nothing but try to help all people be their downfall to punish people to get back at him.

  4. I agree if its one thing that people understand is fixing the system to benefit yourself and family. And for the 400,000 people who are left behind the only way these corrupt bastards will hear you is just vote.
    I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington … *I’m asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

  5. The Virgina state Republican Party and State Senator Puckett are the most deceitful, disrespectful,self serving people I have witnessed in my 70> years. This guy is pullin’ a Palin on all the people with medical needs in Virginia.

  6. Let’s always remember Mr. Phillip Puckett – the GOP Paid Whore.

    He’ll be rich for the rest of his life now working w/the tobacco company, won’t ever be able to get back into government because he is a Lying Whore who sold out hundreds of thousands of people so him and his daughter could have a much better life than the people who will now have to fight for medicaid, and I’m sure there will be no Lord waiting for him at the pearly gates … like most Koch paid Republicans. Remember Ex-Senator Phillip Puckett – for the right price, you can get whatever you want.

  7. I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington … *I’m asking you to believe in yours.* ~ Barack Obama

    I love that quote, and it’s as valid today as it was when he said it.

    It’s up to Virginian Democrats to advertise this bribery-deal so that Virginian voters will understand just how important this election is. Too many are acting disinterested. This will likely fire them up.

  8. Puckett AND his daughter are as “guilty” as the Republicans in VA, if all this pans out as described.

    Going to the bottom of the WaPo article …
    “During the General Assembly session this year, Republicans cried foul when McAuliffe appointed longtime GOP operative Boyd Marcus, who had crossed party lines to endorse McAuliffe in the campaign, to a six-figure position on the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Republicans blocked the appointment, saying the job was essentially “sold” for the endorsement.”

  9. Hhhuummm! …Pay attenion!!! Notice that the so-called “News Media” never even questions whether or not the actions by the GOP/Tea Party are ETHICAL!

    Disgusting!!! …

  10. The amazing thing is, he will get away with it. The purchasing power is wonderful isnt it.

    Like the wrestling god used to say, every man has a price. This guy needs to be vilified publically

  11. His acceptance doesn’t negate the fact that it is still very much bribery and a glaring example of corruption.

    And this should be pointed out, ad nauseam, to Virginian voters who are getting the short-end of the stick and who are waiting for McAuliffe to expand Medicaid in their State.

    That way, they can decide whether or not they’ll vote for the GOP in this upcoming election: reward them for corruption or punish them for it. The choice is theirs.

  12. Not sure how you determine that the GOP is behind this when it is the governor who makes the appointments to the Tobacco Commission. See state code 3.2-3105.Appointment of director, Commission employees, Counsel to the Commission.

  13. No No no 3.2-3102. Membership; terms; vacancies; compensation and expenses; chairman; chairman’s executive summary.
    You have to click on the link for the full breakdown but here are the section that applies to this case
    2. Four members of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules;
    While the Governor in sections 6,7,8,9 are appointed by the Governor it comes with strings attached. Meaning a group of names are summited by the various players and he gets to chose 1 to 3 depending on the section. So no the Governor did not make this appointment and before you go citing something do us a favor and read it before you comment

  14. Why should a special election be the next step, considering Puckett’s resignation isn’t based on personal family circumstances, medical reasons, or ascent to a higher position (such as Cory Booker did)?

    Why can’t McAuliffe just immediately replace Puckett with a temporary designee of his choice, if Puckett doesn’t serve out his term?

  15. This is perfect example of this quote by Andrew Gulli, “Greed knows no boundary.” Republicans has shown how capable they are as they were able to sneak into Democrat senator and made an greedy offer that Puckett are too happy to not refuse. He is coward who only look out for himself and his own family. Now he’s going to have a bright future by getting rich quick scheme in corporate world after his tenure as commissioner.

  16. …looking at his pic…Well how else is this POS going to pay to have the REST of his teeth whitened!!?? in addition to the four on the left side…

  17. The republicans looked and found a sucker who by disgrace is supposed to be a democrat.This guy has no respect for himself as a democrat he is a disgrace.

  18. Now it’s being said he has resigned but “probably” won’t take the job. Nothing from his daughter bowing out.

  19. This guy Puckett may, at some time, need Democrat votes for something he is in favor of. His daughter may need votes when her term is up. In any case, they will both be dead meat. Karma has a way of coming around and biting you in the butt.

  20. For Puckett’s sake, I hoe he will never need something from Democrats, who he has deserted for a few bucks (Judas Iscariot, anyone/). At that time, he and his daughter will be dead meat.

  21. Since this piece went up, the Tobacco Commission, that was supposed to meet Wednesday to announce this hire suddenly canceled the event. The Senator also pulled is name from the post. He is giving up the job now supposedly for his daughter, who had a better chance then, as I don’t see her getting one Democratic vote for the seat.

  22. I still want an investigation of this quisling and the republicans that bought his ass. In Virginia bribery is a serious offence and when Gov. McAuliffe seems like the clean one you know something is wrong

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