Complaint Filed Against Mark Warner With Senate Ethics Committee Over The #VirginiaWay

On Jan. 16, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Sen. Mark Warner. The law at issue is the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA) passed by Democrats in the wake of former Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX) and his so-called “K Street Project.” The complaint alleges that Sen. Mark Warner used his influence or offered to use it to obtain private sector employment for Democratic former state Senator Phil Puckett’s daughter for partisan reasons, which is a direct violation of HLOGA carrying a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Ironically, it wasn’t the suggested federal judicial appointment at issue here, but his raising the possibility of getting her a job at CGI.

The complete statement follows as well as a link to the complaint letter:

RPV Chairman Pat Mullins issued the following statement:
“Today, acting at my direction, the Republican Party of Virginia filed a formal ethics complaint against Democratic Senator Mark R. Warner in connection with his ‘brainstorming’ about a job for former Senator Phil Puckett’s daughter during the 2014 campaign.”“After examining the published reports and Warner’s own statements during the campaign, it appears that Warner may have violated a Federal law that prohibits Senators and Representatives from using their influence or offering to use their influence to secure employment for another, solely on the basis of political affiliation.”“Said simply, if Warner offered to use his influence to land a job for anyone based simply on political considerations, he has violated Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which is punishable up to 15 years in prison.”

“Democrats will argue that this complaint is nothing but poor sportsmanship, and a childish reaction to a close electoral loss. Nothing could be further from the truth. This complaint comes at a time when Virginia Democrats are publicly calling for ethics reform. As our Democratic colleagues wrote in a fundraising email just this week, ‘We need to hold our elected leaders accountable for their actions and demand a more transparent and honest government.’”

“This request for an investigation is just that – an effort to ensure that Democrat Mark R. Warner did not violate the law in an effort to aid in the expansion of Obamacare in Virginia. And if he did violate the law, that he is held to account.”

“Holding our elected leaders accountable begins with enforcing the laws we have on the books, and that is what we ask the Senate Ethics Committee to do.”

Download the letter by clicking here.

As someone who is engaged in lobbying disclosure and congressional ethics law, I have been familiar with HLOGA since before it was enacted. This is a serious matter that Sen. Warner is accused of being involved in despite the spin Warner’s office is putting out on it.

“This is the last pathetic partisan attack of the 2014 campaign,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said of the RPV complaint.

“It has no merit, and everyone else has moved on.”

The only thing pathetic and without merit here is that response. Sen. Warner may have become accustomed to getting away with things that others would pay the price for doing, but eventually everyone’s luck runs out. HLOGA is pretty black and white on this. It will be interesting to see what the Senate Ethics Committee may turn up beyond what is already public.