Straight Up Bribery: VA State Senate Kneecaps Medicaid

RICHMOND - Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor's push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. The spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe's proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.

Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) said Republicans were unable to win the policy argument about Medicaid expansion, so they have resorted to other means.

Meanwhile, people in Virginia, politics and on the Internet quickly condemned the actions of the soon-to-be-former state senator.

From Terry McAuliffe, via the Washington Post:

“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,” McAuliffe said. “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.”

From the Daily Kos:

Benedict Arnold. Judas Iscariot. Brutus. Quisling.

Add to the names of history's traitors one Phillip Puckett. This former Democrat apparently made a deal to resign his Senate seat just to hand the majority to the GOP. In return he gets - no, not thirty pieces of silver, but a seat on the Tobacco Commission and a judgeship for his daughter.

Judges, you know, those people who are supposed to administer the law fairly, honestly and dispassionately? You might think that obtaining the job through such sleazebaggery would taint the rest of her career a bit.

Is this act of openly bribing a state official even legal?

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