The Honorable Scott Lingamfelter currently represents the 31st HOD. Delegate Lingamfelter is campaigning to run as the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in this state’s fall election. Scott graduated from VMI with a BA in History in 1973, whereupon he was commissioned in the US Army (artillery) and served for 28 years retiring as a Colonel in 2001. He attended UVA, graduating with an MA in Government and Foreign Affairs in 1981. Scott also served in Iraq during operation Desert Storm, where he was decorated. Lingamfelter was first elected in 2001 and has served on several committees. He is married and is a father of three.
VV: Why do you want to be the Lt. Governor of Virginia?
HSL: It is not a matter of being something; it is a matter of getting something done. I think the Lt Governor’s position will give me a chance to work on something that is important to me. I was in the military for a long time, the military is good about inspecting itself. It has an inspector general who looks at all the parts from stem to stern.
When I was first elected in 2001, ‘What a great idea?’ I thought, let’s have an independent set of eyes look at government. Let’s look at the redundancies; listen to the value proposition. Let’s wring out the waste, fraud, abuse, and inefficiency. There are some things the government does do well, that we should expect it do well. Whether it’s a DMV or paving the streets we need to be able to do them well and to the standards that the tax payer wants it done. I called for the first statewide audit of the different commodity areas in order to shake them down, found out where there were savings, and reapply that money to other areas in government.
We finally got that passed after eight years, and we found $1.4 Billion sitting idle in the Virginia Department of Transportation. That’s the punctuation mark on the story. There is more to do. One of the things that the Lt. Gov. has in his grasp is the power to convene. If there is a tough problem the lieutenant governor can call people to the table who are experts in the field and they will come. I want to become a convening authority, if you will, and bring people together to solve tough problems in order to reform how government does its business in Virginia.
While I want to use the bully pulpit, more specifically I do not want to get involved in all this appointed commission stuff, it doesn’t work. You appoint a commission and you relegate yourself to the sidelines. I want to use my background in reform, in actually achieving reform, in a way that we can practically expand that reform agenda here in Virginia. I can do it; I know I can do it.
VV: With which of the founding fathers do you identify most?
HSL: Good question, I identify with one, which I feel very fond of in particular, and that is John Adams. His is not a Virginian, but I would say this about John Adams: he is a man of deep conviction. He said something that I think is very decisive and that is that the people have a fundamental, indefeasible right to understand the character of their leaders. Why is that important to John Adams? Why is that important to you and me? Because you’re getting ready to say okay Scott Lingamfelter be the lieutenant governor and I’m going to entrust to you the fact that you are going to protect our rights, that you are going to stand up for the right kinds of things. So you have a right to understand my character.
If I am not the person I say I am, if I am not doing things that I say that I do, if I distort my record and say that I lowered taxes when I actually raise taxes, when I say to you that I’m going to run a positive campaign and I run a negative campaign, then I’m beginning to bring my character into question. I don’t think that political office is something that you covet — I think political office is something that you seek to serve. There is a big difference. It goes to the character of the individual.
John Adams understood that. He said we want to entrust our leadership to people of high character, people who will be trustworthy. The two big casualties in the post-modern era are truth and trust.
VV: Why did you vote against the McDonnell transportation bill?
HSL: It was a bad bill. It was a bad bill because it raised taxes at a time quite frankly when businesses and families are struggling. If you think this economy is in good shape you’re just as clueless as a pig looking at Timex watch. Despite what’s going on in the stock market this economy’s in real danger. Fundamentally we have a problem in this economy; quantitative easing is ruining the monetary policy and driving interest rates through the floor, which is not good for the economy. This policy has not set the conditions for what you would call healthy growth. Our economic growth is flat.
This dollar is better spent by a small business than by the government. A small business will create jobs and opportunity the government will not.
VV: looking back legislatively what is your greatest regret?
HSL: I think 3202 in 2007 was a bad transportation bill that we probably should not have passed; It violated a tenant of the Virginia constitution. It was an important bill in that I learned a lot from that experience. In many ways that experience colored my analysis of what to do with this transportation bill this year. My view is bills need to be constitutional, they need to be supportive of families, and supportive of small businesses. If they can’t pass those three tests, news flash, vote no!
VV: A number of Republicans have run as conservatives, but they do not vote that way — could you describe your voting record as fiscally conservative?
HSL: Yes very definitely. If you want to know what a person is going to do you need to look back and see what they’ve done. I think the reform bills I’ve done are very important, I actually worked this. I was relentless and kept going after these bills and I got that done. We saved Virginia $1.4 billion. We sent those auditors into VDOT and found money tucked away in this account and that account and recouped that money. That was based on the reform audit bills that I have been working for eight years.
The other piece that I think is important is that I am in one of the budget hawks on the Appropriations Committee. We have actually reduced general fund spending in Virginia by $7 billion. That is a huge reduction when you look at the rest of the country. The general fund is what comes from your taxation — income, sales, corporate. The non-general fund is a flow-through accounting mechanism. Fishing licenses go through the non-general fund. I cannot control how many people buy fishing licenses. We cannot control the number of people who go to school and pay tuition at our universities. All this goes through the non-general fund. Non-general fund spending has tracked population growth in such areas.
We cannot control how much money the federal government sends VA, for highway funding or Medicaid, all of which then goes into the non-general fund. That is what they send down. That is why the non-general fund has one up.
People like Stimpson, Stewart and Snyder have distorted the debate by focusing on the non-general fund. When you look at where your tax money is concerned: income, sales, corporate, recordation; that spending has gone down. The reason spending has gone down is that your fiscal conservatives, like myself, in Richmond are fighting for us. That is clearly something that I focus on.
VV: could you describe your voting record as socially conservative, libertarian or progressive?
HSL: It’s socially conservative. Here’s why. The Constitution is vital. The family is the civilizing agent of our society. Small businesses are everything to our economic prosperity. That is the framework of our society.
VV: So you think culture matters?
HSL: Absolutely it does. If you don’t believe it matters look at all the dysfunction going on in the country.
VV: What bills have you proposed that further the conservative agenda?
HSL: The Six-Year Capital Outlay Plan, here’s what we did. For years the universities came in and each year would change their building outlay plans, this eats up money. We put an end to that. I got with Lacey Putney and constructed legislation that required the University’s to stick to the building plans that they first proposed. If you come back in next year and tell the legislature that you don’t want this, you have used your chit. This brought some fundamental, practical, and fiscal conservatism to our capital construction program.
Here is a factoid for you. Under the Virginia Constitution we can have debt up to 25% of revenues. We are at four percent right now, we’re 80% below what our Constitution provides. Localities should be doing the same thing. Look at Prince William, debt: $203 million increase in the last seven years. Fact.
VV: Is the Virginia budget too large? If so how would you shrink it?
HSL: The general fund can be reduced because we actually have more waste to get rid of. Once we do that I think we should reallocate our general fund spending to more infrastructure and transportation. We’re spending gobs of money on public education and we’re not getting a good result from it. The result would be a lot better if we had real school choice. The non-general fund problem is different. The only way to do that is to return to families and say we’re not going to expand University opportunities; we’re going to cap the number of applicants. I just don’t support that. I think the more kids we have attending four-year institutions the better. So guess what is going to happen with more kids in school? The non-general fund is going to go up. The budget is made up of both general and non-general items. The Virginia Constitution states that every penny spent has to be appropriated.
VV: There is an oil boom in Nebraska, you have a natural gas and coal and uranium in Virginia; how as Lieut. Gov. could you help to bring legislation to the table that would bring these resources to market?
HSL: We are trapped by a federal government that is putting politics above our national security. What Lieut. Gov. Lingamfelter can do and will do is harangue our leaders in Washington every day that they do not allow us to use our resources here in Virginia to our benefit.
In a perfect world we have full exploration offshore. We would get rid of the perfectly ridiculous regulations that are destroying the coal industry in Virginia. If you look at the cost of the coal commodity, fully 30% of the increase in price over the last few years is due to regulation. Commodity prices have been about the same, labor and mining operation prices have not really been up. It’s all about regulation. It’s all silly regulation designed put the industry out of business.
VV: Liberty has many aspects many of which are enshrined in our Constitution, which aspects are most important to you?
HSL: I think they hang together in a very important way. Fundamentally the First Amendment, the freedom of speech, and the disestablishment clause, which caused religion to flourish because now it is a matter of choice. That is a foundational principle. Right behind it is the Second Amendment. I repealed the one-gun-a-month law in Virginia; I got the Carter-Wright award from the NRA which states I am the top guy in the country supporting gun rights according to the NRA. The guy who got it before me was Ted Cruz. I have an A+ rating from the NRA.
Here’s the thing that fascinates me about the Second Amendment, people believe it’s about guns. It’s not about guns. It’s about liberty. It’s the forcing function that tells tyranny you stay over there and if you try to come over here, you have me and the force that my founders said was mine to keep you at bay.
I don’t want to diminish the other seven amendments that were our deca of the Bill of Rights, but truly those two are vital. Also the 10th amendment in this regard, this amendment was designed to keep federalism in its proper balance. We have destroyed that balance in this country. You have an aggressively postured federal government that continues to press down on the people of the states. If we allow them press down, then our rights will be destroyed. If we don’t push back then we will be pushed down.
VV: there been a number of straw polls, given the results how strong is your position?
HSL: I think we’re in a good place. I know we are not the frontrunner. Many people have come to the place were people see us as the statesman in the race. That is what I set out to do. We have a very vibrant support. The second piece is: there are many people who have come and said that we are their number two choice. As we go through the winnowing process we are in a very good place to attract people to my position. At the end of the day people have to be able to trust their nominee and I am in a great place to win the favor of this convention.
VV: Why vote for you?
HSL: You vote for me because you look for someone in leadership with a real pedigree in leadership. I was 28 years in the army, in war and peace. Allen West has endorsed my campaign. He and I were in combat together. 12 years in the general assembly, I was the chairman of the committee that killed the gun grabbing bills. Then there is the 2nd piece, what I call authentic conservatism. I got an A+ from the NRA, 100% from the Family Foundation, 100% from the National Foundation of Independent Businesses. There is a 3rd component: I have a record not simply a brochure. Everybody is pro-life. Everybody is pro-2nd amendment. Everybody is for lowering taxes. Everybody loves their mom. Everyone eats apple-pie. The difference is the reform agenda is measurable in my case. I sponsored the Six-Year Capital Outlay Plan, I repealed One-Gun-A-Month when everyone said it couldn’t be done. I have been a consistent, solid conservative fiscally by reducing our spending by 7 billion dollars in the general fund. The last piece is electability. I have won 7 elections in northern VA, in a swing district.
VV: Thank you for your time, Delegate Lingamfelter, and for the service to your country.