Virginia

PFAW Volunteers Take Fight Against Cuccinelli’s Extremism to the Streets

PFAW made the news this weekend with the debut of our new Spanish language ad in Virginia, part of our partnership with the McAuliffe campaign. But we’re also on the ground, taking the fight against Cuccinelli’s extreme views to the streets. This weekend, we went out to Herndon, Virginia, participating in a training for canvassing and get-out-the-vote activities—the kind of on-the-ground efforts that will make all the difference in this election.

More than 100 volunteers hit the streets to talk to Virginia voters and make sure they know just how extreme, reckless and wrong for Virginia Cuccinelli is. We were proud to be a part of the canvass — and the McAuliffe campaign told us that Herndon was the No. 1 canvassing location for the weekend!

The level of enthusiasm we saw in our activists was very encouraging, but we won’t let ourselves get complacent. We won’t stop until we’re sure that Cuccinelli won’t be bringing his right-wing agenda to the Governor’s office.

PFAW

Rick Santorum To Lead 'Strikeforce' To Save Ken Cuccinelli's Flagging Campaign

Rick Santorum is coming to the defense of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s far-right attorney general who is currently trailing in the polls, with a “Strikeforce to elect Ken Cuccinelli.”

Santorum’s effort follows a Family Research Council-sponsored Cuccinelli campaign tour by the Duggar family, whose patriarch Jim Bob apparently doesn’t even know who Cuccinelli is running against.

The former senator and presidential candidate asked members of his Patriot Voices organization to help his Religious Right compatriot:

Friend,

In less than three weeks, voters in Virginia will go to the polls to cast their ballot for their next governor.

Ken Cuccinelli, an unapologetic conservative, is running against liberal, Clinton-insider Terry McAuliffe. The polls show McAuliffe leading, but Ken can pull off a victory with our help.

Here's how.

Patriot Voices PAC is enlisting members for a Strikeforce to get out the vote for Ken in Virginia the weekend before Election Day.

Our Strikeforce will go door-to-door and hold sign waves during the weekend of November 1-3 to help get Republican voters to the polls!

If you are interested in joining our Strikeforce team or learning more, click here to sign up and someone will be in touch soon.

We realize that not everyone can pick up and head to Virginia, but there is another critical way for you to help Ken.

Make a contribution for one of the following amounts to ensure our StrikeForce volunteers have what they need:

Donate $10 for the literature our Strikeforce team will use to recruit voters.

Donate $25 to purchase signs.

Donate $50 to purchase meals for our Strikeforce team after a long day of campaign activity.

Donate $100 to help pay for lodging and transportation for out of state volunteers.

Remember, nothing can replace people interacting with voters. Technology and advertising are helpful, but at the end of the day, close races are won because of enthusiastic volunteers talking with voters and making sure they vote. We can make a real difference in this race!

Your contribution of your time and financial resources will make a direct impact on our Strikeforce team's ability to get Republicans to the polls on Election Day.

Thanks and God Bless,

Rick Santorum

Gallagher Urges GOP To Follow Lonegan's 'Winning Strategy' And Talk More About Abortion

National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher has a curious op-ed in the Washington Post today in which she insists that Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is behind in the polls because he isn’t talking enough about his opposition to reproductive rights.

Cuccinelli sure has what Gallagher calls “conservative credentials” on the issue of choice. For instance, when he was in the state legislature, he sponsored a “personhood” bill that would have banned abortions in all circumstances and even criminalized some common forms of birth control. Cuccinelli has, understandably, been trying to run from this record in his effort to win over more moderate voters. But this, Gallagher argues, is what’s hurting him:

There is still time for Cuccinelli to turn things around, but the fact that someone with his conservative credentials speaks this way underscores that there is a conventional wisdom about how candidates ought to address, or avoid, social issues during campaigns. And Cuccinelli’s standing in the race underscores that this approach is dangerous for the GOP.

The truce strategy demoralizes the GOP base and makes it hard for the grass roots to care about Republican candidates. Conservative candidates are advised to deflect or retreat when social issues are raised, and their refusal to speak clearly and hold the line allows Democratic candidates to adopt more extreme positions, energizing their own base and unleashing a flood of money at no political cost. Democrats are confident that their opponents will not make an issue of their positions. Republican candidates’ apparent discomfort discussing such issues makes it look like they have something to hide, confirming to many voters Democratic suggestions that GOP candidates’ positions are extreme.

On an issue such as abortion, about which Americans are fundamentally ambivalent, victory depends on how “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are defined. Republicans’ self-imposed silence allows Democrats to define pro-life in ways that help them politically. Thus, Democrats do not have to justify their positions on infanticide, late-term abortions or permitting unborn baby girls to be killed just because of their gender.

Gallagher suggests that Cuccinelli instead follow the “winning strategy” of New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, who enthusiastically attacked Democrat Cory Booker for his pro-choice record…before Booker beat him handily in the general election.

Democrats campaigned on the truce strategy in 2012 and will continue to use it until GOP candidates come up with a more effective political response. The winning strategy would be to aggressively define social issues on Democrats’ weakest grounds, to make them pay for their unqualified support of abortion on any grounds.

Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey Republican whose long-shot Senate campaign stalled when he supported the government shutdown in a blue state, nonetheless had the right idea on this issue. “What abortion would you make illegal?” he asked Cory Booker in a recent debate.

Memo to GOP candidates: The best defense is a good offense. When you are being relentlessly attacked as an abortion extremist by people who support late-term and/or taxpayer-funded abortions, self-imposed silence about your beliefs and values is not an effective political response. Calling Democrats on their own extremism is the pathway to victory.

Virginia Removes 40,000 Names From Voter Rolls as Election Approaches

The Associated Press is reporting that Virginia election officials have gone ahead with a planned “purge” of the state’s voter rolls, removing nearly 40,000 names from voter registration lists. 

The state’s gubernatorial election is in less than three weeks.

There are signs that some eligible voters may have had their vaild voter registrations revoked in the purge. One local registrar refused to participate, the AP reports, because one in ten names that state elections officers sent him to be removed from the rolls were in fact eligible voters:

One local registrar, Lawrence Haake in Chesterfield County, has defied the state elections board and refused to purge any voters. In an affidavit, Haake says that he conducted a preliminary review that found nearly 10 percent of the names given to him by the state for potential purging were, in fact, eligible voters. He concluded that the risk of purging legitimate voters was too great.

“The list sent to us from the SBE is clearly inaccurate and unreliable,” Haake said in the affidavit.

In our report “The Right to Vote Under Attack,” we documented how flawed voter purges keep eligible citizens from voting.
 

PFAW Foundation

Ken Cuccinelli Donor Linked To Kidnapping Case, Anti-Semitic Newspapers

While Ken Cuccinelli may be the top law enforcement officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that hasn’t stopped him from taking campaign contributions for his gubernatorial bid from a Religious Right activist linked to a kidnapping investigation. Blue Virginia notes that Cuccinelli donor Philip Zodhiates of Response Unlimited is tied to the Lisa Miller kidnapping case.

Zodhiates was named in a RICO lawsuit [PDF] filed by Janet Jenkins, whose former partner Lisa Miller kidnapped their daughter, Isabella, and fled to a Mennonite community in Central America. Before leaving the country with Isabella, Miller broke off a civil partnership with Jenkins after she renounced homosexuality and moved to Virginia and joined the church founded by Jerry Falwell, who also established Liberty University. Miller abducted Isabella after refusing a court order to transfer custody of their daughter to Jenkins.

The lawsuit depicts how Zodhiates and Liberty University School of Law, which represented Miller, were connected to the kidnapping:

36. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, on September 21, 2009, Lisa Miller and Isabella were transported, in disguise as Amish-Mennonites, to the Canadian border by Philip Zodhiates and at least one other Response Unlimited, Inc. employee. Lisa Miller and Isabella crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge in a taxi in the early morning hours of September 22, 2009, just days prior to the contact ordered by the Rutland Family Court in its September 2009 Interim Order.

37. In the days prior to September 22, 2009, Lisa Miller and Philip Zodhiates conspired with Kenneth Miller, a member of the Virginia Beachy Amish-Mennonite Brotherhood with whom both Victoria and Philip Zodhiates were acquainted, to arrange the purchase of plane tickets from Canada to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and Isabella Miller-Jenkins.



41. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, in 2009 Victoria Zodhiates (now Hyden) was an employee of Response Unlimited, Inc., and also a "student worker" at Liberty University School of Law. On information and belief, Victoria Zodhiates sent an email during this time period to her co-workers at the law school requesting donations for supplies to send to Lisa Miller to enable her to remain outside the country. Lisa Miller's attorney, Matthew Staver was the Dean of the Law School and Ms. Zodhiates's boss. Matthew Staver and Philip Zodhiates were also personal acquaintances at this time. On September 20, 2009, both Philip Zodhiates and Victoria Hyden called Lisa Miller's father, Terry Miller in Tennessee to assist in arranging her and Isabella's transportation from a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Waynesboro, Virginia, from whence they would depart for Canada and Nicaragua the next day.

42. In early November, 2009, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Virginia by Philip Zodhiates who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua by sending them with his son's school teacher who was taking some children on a mission trip to Managua. Philip Zodhiates arranged for the teacher, John Collmus, to deliver the bags at the airport to Timothy Miller. The bags also contained some supplies for Lisa Miller, such as peanut butter. –



53. In May of 2010, Philip Zodhiates contacted Kenneth Miller purportedly to arrange the purchase of hydrangea plants from Millmont Greenhouses, Inc., for his daughter Victoria's wedding. As stated above, Kenneth Miller was an employee of Millmont at that time. Upon information and belief, this transaction with Mr. Zodhiates was never recorded in the normal course of business, but instead, was fraudulently transferred through a payroll account into a check to Andrew Yoder, for $500. Andrew Yoder was never an employee of Millmont Greenhouses, Inc. On August 10, 2012, Andrew Yoder testified under oath that he received a check to cash from Kenneth Miller to enable him to bring cash to Nicaragua to transfer to Timothy Miller. Yoder testified that he believed this cash was related to Lisa Miller.

Zodhiates’ company is also closely tied to Nativist and anti-Semitic groups. Author David Neiwert described how Response Unlimited worked with anti-immigrant “Minutemen” groups in his book And Hell Followed With Her:

Headed up by Diener’s Phil Sheldon and a man named Philip Zodhiates, Response Unlimited makes its money by brokering mailing lists—hundreds of them, gleaned from right-wing organizations and political campaigns, and made available to fundraisers and organizers who can select a list of thousands of names based on their specific interests. Besides the [Minutemen Civil Defense Corps] and readers of the conservative Weekly Standard, among the lists offered by RU is one culled from readers of the notoriously anti-Semitic weekly the Spotlight.

The Southern Poverty Law Center adds that even after Spotlight closed down, Zodhiates maintained ties with its successor:

Response Unlimited, based in Waynesboro, Va., and headed by Christian Right activist Philip Zodhiates, charges $100 for the rental of every 1,000 names of subscribers to the now-defunct Spotlight newspaper. Founded by veteran anti-Semite Willis Carto, The Spotlight carried anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic and wildly conspiracist articles interspersed with ads for Klan, neo-Nazi and related hate groups.

Zodhiates also peddles lists of subscribers to the American Free Press, which replaced The Spotlight when that tabloid was shut down amid legal and financial troubles surrounding Carto. The Free Press began immediately after The Spotlight fizzled in 2001 and picked up many of its predecessor paper's propagandists. Today, the Free Press carries stories on Zionism, secret "New World Order" conspiracies, American Jews and Israel. Mixed in are advertisements for outfits like Pete Peter's Scriptures for America and Kingdom Identity Ministries -- practitioners of Christian Identity, a theology that claims that Jews are the literal descendants of Satan.

Cuccinelli Surrogate Jim Bob Duggar Stands By His Comparison Of US To Nazi Germany

While campaigning for Virginia Republicans Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson this week, reality TV star Jim Bob Duggar reaffirmed his comparison of the United States to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

Over the weekend, Duggar told the Values Voter Summit — an event hosted by the Family Research Council Action, where is son Josh serves as executive director — that Nazi concentration camps are “where we are at in our nation.”

Campaigning for the GOP ticket in Virginia, Duggar attempted to “clarify” his remarks by affirming his comparison of the current state of the US to the Holocaust:

"It is shocking that Cuccinelli would accept the support of a man who last week publicly compared the United States to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust," said McAuliffe's campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.

"Ken Cuccinelli needs to immediately ask his surrogate to leave Virginia," Schwerin continued. "Mr. Duggar's divisive, hurtful, and extreme rhetoric has no place in this campaign for Governor."

Asked about his earlier decision to employ the holocaust metaphor Duggar did not back down.

"Let me clarify," he said.

"We have since 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) had 55 million abortions, so what we have going on is a baby holocaust," Duggar said.

Cuccinelli joined the Duggar clan for one of the family’s campaign stop, which was sponsored by the FRC.

When Jackson met up with the Duggar’s, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor likened himself and Cuccinelli to Patrick Henry during the American Revolution:

It also featured a fiery speech from Jackson, who said voters face a choice that's as stark as what Americans patriots faced in 1775.

He said Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, at the time "put out an arrest warrant out on our House of Burgesses."

This, Jackson said, prompted Patrick Henry to mount an armed resistance to the British crown.

"I don't think Mark (Obenshain), Ken (Cuccinelli) or I are in any danger of being arrested or being hanged," he said, "but I do think the choice is as stark."

Cuccinelli's Extreme Agenda Flops Once Again At The Supreme Court

Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli couldn’t interest the Supreme Court in revisiting the constitutionality of “sodomy” bans, and now the Court’s rejected his extreme anti-science attack on the EPA. The Supreme Court today took a case challenging the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses from factories and power plants – a dangerous enough case, but not one that takes the challenge to the EPA nearly as far as Cuccinelli had hoped.

Cuccinelli, as part of his crusade against climate science, led a group of state attorneys general joining industry groups in challenging not only the EPA’s regulatory authority but also its very finding that greenhouse gasses are harmful.

While the Court declined to hear Cuccinelli’s head-on attack on basic science, it will still decide whether to grant a big boon to polluters.

Paul Gordon at PFAW Blog gives the back story of the case

The EPA concluded in 2009 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants dangerous to human health and welfare.  Under a previous Supreme Court ruling, this “endangerment finding” meant that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles. The next year, the agency adopted a “Tailpipe Rule” for new cars and light trucks. Then, based on the agency’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act, it also concluded that the Tailpipe Rule automatically triggered  regulation of “stationary sources” of greenhouse gases like factories and power plants.

Industry groups and several states (with Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli acting as a key ringleader) challenged the EPA’s rules. Cuccinelli, you may remember, abused his position as Attorney General to engage in a witch hunt designed to intimidate climate change scientists. In this case, he has attacked the EPA’s underlying “endangerment finding,” citing the manufactured right-wing “scandal” of “Climategate.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court will not be considering this aspect of the appeals, which might have given Cuccinelli’s claims some patina of legitimacy.

However, the Justices will be hearing challenges to the EPA's conclusion that it has the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The EPA's legal conclusions were upheld by a unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit in a per curiam decision (per curiam is usually shorthand for "no duh") that included conservative Judge David Sentelle. According to the court, the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act regarding stationary sources was "unambiguously correct" and "compelled by the statute."

Jackson: Next To Jesus, America Has Been 'The Greatest Blessing Given To Mankind'

E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, kicked off the evening session of the Values Voter Summit by declaring that he has not and will not ever apologize or repudiate any of the crazy or bigoted things he has said in the past, saying that the criticism he has received for his statements is rooted in "a growing hostility against Christianity, a growing hostility against those of us who believe in the Bible as truth."

Jackson later declared that he was running for office simply because he loves America, which "has been the greatest blessing given to mankind, other than Jesus himself":

Cuccinelli Campaign Warns Of Future Where Pastors Are Thrown In Jail, Homeschooling Outlawed

Ken Cuccinelli’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign must really be hurting, because it just brought out some classic Religious Right scare tactics.

Today, the campaign sent out a fundraising email, signed by the candidate’s wife Teiro Cuccinelli, warning supporters that “we live in a nation in which our inalienable rights to live and liberty face real threats.” The threats listed in the email include speculation that “clergy might face imprisonment for teaching the Christian morals from the pulpit” and that homeschooling might be outlawed.

The email claims that Attorney General Eric Holder “recently argued in federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their children” – an apparent reference to a recent case involving a German family that was denied a request for asylum because Germany would not allow them to homeschool their family. Nothing in the case indicated that the Obama administration wants to restrict homeschooling in the United States.

And, despite right-wing hysteria to the contrary, there is absolutely no evidence for the claim that clergy will be thrown in jail for preaching “Christian morals” on issues like gay rights.

We live in a nation in which our inalienable rights to life and liberty face real threats. Our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, second amendments rights, parental rights, and property rights are all slowly being strangled by our federal government.

My oldest daughter, Alie, left a few weeks ago to begin her second year of college. She told me recently she might want to home school her own children one day. I wonder if Alie will even be allowed to home school her children if she desires to do so.  President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, recently argued in federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their own children.

A priest friend of mine recently told me that he is concerned that there might come a day soon when he and his fellow clergy might face imprisonment for teaching the Christian morals from the pulpit.
Several mothers have expressed their concerns to me about how the nationwide implementation of the Obama Administration’s Common Core Curriculum is going to affect Virginia students and standardized testing, including the SAT test.   

These are similar to the many concerns I hear from people I talk to around the Commonwealth.

What will the future look like for our children?

I do not know the answer.
 

Cuccinelli Fails at the Supreme Court

Cuccinelli's extremism costs him in court, as well as among voters.
PFAW

Right Wing Leftovers - 10/4/13

  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says it is “inappropriate” to compare same-sex couples to children: “A much better analogy would have been brother and sister.”
  • Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) suggests Ted Cruz and his Tea Party allies “duped” Americans into believing “that shutting down the government meant shutting down Obamacare.”
  • Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) thinks Democrats are “curb-stomping elderly veterans.”
  • Bill O’Reilly likens GOP efforts to derail Obamacare to parents stopping their daughter from getting accosted by a “vicious motorcycle gang.”
  • This is rich: Pat Buchanan claims President Obama has a “sadistic” agenda that created a “poisonous atmosphere” in Washington.
  • Does the National Organization for Marriage have any evidence to back up its claim that 65 percent of Americans oppose marriage equality?

People For the American Way and McAuliffe Campaign to Launch Major Spanish-Language Ad Buy in VA

TV Ad Campaign Will Highlight Ken Cuccinelli's Discriminatory Agenda & Career-Long Record of Divisive Rhetoric 

People For the American Way and Terry McAuliffe's campaign for Virginia governor will launch a major partnership next week to highlight McAuliffe’s commitment to making Virginia open and welcoming to all and inform voters of his opponent Ken Cuccinelli’s record of driving a divisive and discriminatory agenda. The six-figure Spanish-language advertising campaign will include a series of TV ads running in the Washington, DC and Richmond media markets. The ad campaign will start on Monday and run through Election Day.

"Ken Cuccinelli has tried to cover up his extreme agenda on immigration, health care, women’s rights and gay rights, but his record speaks for itself," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. "From sponsoring legislation while in the State Senate that would let companies fire employees for speaking Spanish, even during break times, to launching divisive rhetorical attacks against Latinos, Cuccinelli has shown that he's more focused on driving his extreme Tea Party agenda than doing what's best for all Virginians."

"As governor, I will be committed to increasing opportunities for all Virginians, because our Commonwealth is stronger when all who want to live, work, or raise a family here are able to," said Terry McAuliffe. "We need to be focused on keeping Virginia open and welcoming to all, which is why I will be proud to sign the Virginia DREAM Act as governor and work to increase access to quality education, good jobs and support for small business owners for all citizens of our great Commonwealth."

Latino voters play an increasingly critical role in Virginia’s politics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 8.2 percent of Virginia residents are of Hispanic or Latino descent. From 2000 to 2010, the number of eligible Latino voters in Virginia grew by 76 percent, outpacing all other groups in the electorate. 

The ad campaign is modeled after People For the American Way’s successful programs in 2012, aimed at increasing Latino turnout in key states. In 2012, People For the American Way undertook a comprehensive plan to get out the vote and communicate with Latino voters in Virginia and five other key swing states about Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda, as well as the GOP’s extreme and offensive rhetoric about the Latino community. In Virginia, President Obama won the Latino vote by 32 points (64-33%). 

To learn more about the PFAW Latino advertising campaign’s history, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/press-releases/2012/11/memo-pfaw-and-latino-vote

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PFAW

Ken Cuccinelli Calls In The Religious Right Reinforcements: Homeschoolers Edition

Yesterday, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli attended a fundraiser co-hosted by anti-gay and anti-choice activists. Now, the far-right state attorney general is calling for help from Religious Right leader Michael Farris, who runs Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Generation Joshua is the youth branch of the HSLDA, which sends homeschoolers to work on “races across the country, phone-banking, literature dropping and campaigning on behalf of conservative candidates” who oppose abortion rights and gay equality. “Many battles have been won on the homeschooling front, but there are many battles left to fight because the giants of abortion, homosexuality, and moral relativism remain in our land.”

Cuccinelli was the keynote speaker at the Generation Joshua’s first annual Future of America Banquet, and now the right-wing organization is returning the favor.

Watchdog.org reports that Generation Joshua is hoping to send around 200 students “to work with the Cuccinelli campaign in two weeks” as part of “Operation: Shock and Awe,” which is complete with this fantastic video:

Generation Joshua’s William Estrada said the youth group deserves credit for swaying former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle’s decision to veto a civil unions law and Farris successfully led the opposition to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Last December, Farris gained publicity for his drive to make sure that no gay students are attending Patrick Henry College. A Patrick Henry professor during the college's annual “Faith and Reason” lecture criticized the government for prosecuting rape, sexual harassment, child abuse and domestic violence cases.

Cuccinelli delivered the 2012 commencement address at Patrick Henry College, where he attacked President Obama for thinking he knows “better than God” on the issue of same-sex marriage and called on graduates to engage in the fight “against the tide of political correctness, the intelligentsia and the media.”

The Scandal Cuccinelli Can't Dodge: His Extremist Positions

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be the state's next Governor. But he has been dogged by an ethics scandal involving gifts he received from the head of a company that has sued the state. So last week, Cuccinelli tried to put the issue to rest by saying he'd contribute $18,000-the value of his questionable gifts-to a medical charity, saying, "I'm trying to wipe the slate clean here so we can focus on what's gonna matter in people's lives in Virginia in the next four years."

Of course, Cuccinelli's contribution doesn't magically wipe away questions about his character. And there's plenty of other evidence for Virginians to consider about the character of his record, and what four years of Cuccinelli as governor could do for -- or rather to -- the state.

Cuccinelli says his campaign is focused on jobs and the economy, but his extreme record as a state legislator and attorney general makes it clear that he considers himself commander-in-chief of the Religious Right's culture warriors.

He has bullied members of the Board of Health into adopting his anti-choice extremism. He has smeared and tried to defund Planned Parenthood. He even slams comprehensive sex education programs. As the Washington Post noted this week, he "was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state's abortion clinics."

As a state senator, Cuccinelli was one of a handful of sponsors of an unconstitutional "personhood" bill that would have criminalized many common forms of contraception. Cuccinelli hasn't disavowed his support for "personhood" bills or their goal of making abortion illegal. But as a candidate for governor, he is trying to distance himself from the effects such legislation would have on women and families in Virginia. He claims that such legislation, which would grant legal rights to an egg at the moment it is fertilized by a sperm, wouldn't interfere with access to birth control. He is not telling the truth.

Here's another reminder of what kind of governor Cuccinelli would be: one of his first steps as Attorney General was to tell Virginia's public colleges and universities that they had to abandon policies against anti-gay discrimination. He reversed a legal opinion by his predecessor in order to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. He refused to support repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law. He argues that consensual sex between gay adults is a detriment to society and should be illegal. As a state senator, he even opposed legislation that permitted private companies to voluntarily extend health benefits to employees' domestic partners.

Cuccinelli is also a champion of the Tea Party's anti-government extremism. He calls President Obama a tyrant. He filed suit against the Affordable Care Act five minutes after it was signed into law, a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt. He has falsely told people that under the law the government could send people to jail for not buying insurance. He even slams safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for making people dependent on government. 

There is seemingly no right-wing fringe to which Cuccinelli will not pander. He has used the power of his office to harass scientists in a climate-change-denying witch-hunt. He has called for a constitutional convention to rescind 14th amendment birthright citizenship. He said he was considering not getting his infant son a social security number because it was being used to track people. He flirted with birtherism.

And this week, he celebrated Constitution Day by appearing with right-wing radio host Mark Levin. Levin is an anti-union, anti-environmental-regulation, anti-public-education activist who rails against "establishment" Republicans and calls President Obama a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. In 2007, Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Cuccinelli is an example of the strong political coalition that has been made between right-wing Catholics like himself and conservative evangelicals, including Virginia-based powerhouses like Falwell-founded Liberty University and Pat Robertson's broadcasting empire. Cuccinelli has criticized people, like President Obama, who support marriage equality for thinking they "know better than God." And he says homosexual behavior is "intrinsically wrong" and destroys people's souls and shouldn't be allowed in a "natural law based country."

Cuccinelli has clearly aligned himself with the far right within the Catholic Church and, like Paul Ryan, opposes the Church's advocacy on behalf of anti-poverty programs. He hasslammed the Catholic bishops for advocating for government assistance for the poor, saying that has "created a culture of dependency on government, not God." He complained that the archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia included issues like poverty, hunger, and health care on a voting guide without making clear that they, in Cuccinelli's opinion, are clearly less important than abortion.

Cuccinelli has convinced the Religious Right that he's their guy. That's why Rick Santorum has endorsed him and the Family Research Council's PAC is helping him raise money. 

But if Ken Cuccinelli wants to convince Virginia voters that he's not going to govern as a right-wing culture warrior, he'll have to do more than trying to "wipe the slate clean" on his ethical standards. He'll have to erase from the public record his own extreme record. And that will be a lot harder than writing a check.

(also posted at Huffington Post)

PFAW

Ken Cuccinelli Calls In The Religious Right Reinforcements

While Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has been trying to dodge social issues such as abortion rights and marriage equality — likely because his actual views and record are far out of the mainstream — sagging poll numbers and increasing divisions among Republicans have led the candidate to rely on his traditional far-right backers. After campaigning alongside his ultraconservative and homophobic running mate E.W. Jackson, Cuccinelli tonight will attend a fundraiser cosponsored by the Family Research Council’s political arm and the head of a major anti-choice organization.

Tonight’s fundraiser featuring Jeb Bush and a whole host of former GOP politicians-turned-lobbyists is sponsored by FRC Action PAC and Marjorie Dannenfelser, who leads the Susan B. Anthony List.

Cuccinelli has partnered with FRC in the past, addressing at their Values Voter Summit and appearing on the group’s Washington Watch radio program. Dannenfelser’s group, meanwhile, committed at least $1.5 million to boost Cuccinelli.

Dannenfelser and FRC Action hope that Cuccinelli will continue his efforts to close the majority of the state’s abortion clinics. As the Washington Post editorial board noted yesterday, “If Mr. Cuccinelli is elected governor in November, most of the remaining 18 clinics are likely to shut their doors within months.” 

The FRC — whose leaders have referred to gays as pawns of Satan, abnormal and destructive while also calling for their criminalization and exportation — can also take pride in Cuccinelli’s anti-gay rhetoric and activism.

The upcoming fundraiser with two of the country’s foremost social conservative groups shows that as much as Cuccinelli would like Virginia voters to forget about his extreme stances, he is, first and foremost, a Religious Right ideologue.

PFAW Releases Report on Extremism of VA Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli

WASHINGTON – The Virginia gubernatorial candidacy of far-right Republican Ken Cuccinelli may be a test of how far the GOP is willing and able to take its recent lurch to the right, argues a new report from People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.  As a bellwether for the course of the Republican Party, Cuccinelli’s success or defeat in this race – as well as the party’s continued embrace or rejection of his extremism – will be telling for the future of our country’s political landscape.

The report, Ken Cuccinelli: The Attorney General of the Tea Party, provides an in-depth look at the extreme positions Cuccinelli has taken throughout his career. Cuccinelli’s record provides no dearth of examples of his extreme ring-wing politics and policies, including:

• Filing suit against the Affordable Care Act just five minutes after it was signed into law.
• Supporting radical “personhood” legislation which would criminalize all abortions.
• Suing the EPA for seeking to regulate greenhouse gases.
• Comparing the deportation of undocumented immigrants to pest control.

The report also outlines Cuccinelli’s positions on gay rights, voting rights, education, guns, and more.

“If the GOP is serious about their ‘rebranding,’ supporting a candidate who compares undocumented immigrants to rats, wants to radically turn back the clock on women’s rights, and thinks ‘homosexual acts’ are ‘intrinsically wrong’ is not the way to go,” said People For the American Way president Michael Keegan. “Virginians – and all Americans – deserve better than that.”

The report notes, “In the first test for a Republican Party that is still reeling from the disastrous 2012 election, Virginia’s gubernatorial race could have provided the GOP an opportunity to temper its ultraconservative platform or restrain its partnership with the Tea Party. But the choice of state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to be the party’s presumptive nominee for governor indicates that the GOP is moving even further to the right and letting go of any pretense of moderation or bipartisanship.”

The full report is available at www.pfaw.org.

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Ken Cuccinelli: The Attorney General of the Tea Party

Cuccinelli's become a right-wing rock star by picking fights with the Obama administration, scientists, colleges, and supporters of gay, immigrant and reproductive rights, while allying himself with birthers, climate change deniers, the Religious Right and the Tea Party.

Virginia Plans Massive, Faulty Purge of Voter Rolls

Between the Supreme Court’s decision to neuter Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and the passage of one of the nation’s most restrictive voter ID bills in North Carolina, with many other states also passing bills to restrict voting and registration, it’s been a tough year for the right to vote in America. And it just got worse in Virginia, where elections are just around the corner.

According to a report by Think Progress, around “57,000 Virginians have been flagged as being registered in another state, and counties are removing some from the voter rolls without any notice or opportunity to rebut the claim.” This is a crucial point in this case: it’s one thing to make thousands of registered voters jump through hoops to prove they’re eligible to vote in the state, but it’s quite another to remove those voters without any notice, less than two months before an election and less than six weeks before the registration deadline. If the voter was removed in error, the burden is on that voter to fix the state’s mistake in time to vote this November. As Think Progress points out, 57,000 voters is around 3% of the number of voters in 2009—more than enough to make the difference in a close election.

This is disturbing news, particularly following reports that Florida may be looking to take another shot at purging their voter rolls, which they failed to do in time for the 2012 election. Oh, and Iowa, too. Any other swing states feel like joining in?

For more information on voter purges, take a look at  the Brennan Center’s report, as well as our report on voter fraud, The Right To Vote Under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box.

PFAW

Cuccinelli: McAuliffe is Waging 'The Real War on Women'…Because He Hasn't Commented on Mayor Three Time Zones Away

Last week, the Republican National Committee and the four national GOP campaign committees sent out a memo claiming that there is in fact a Democratic “war on women” being waged on two fronts: New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s sexting and San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s sexual harassment.

Claiming that “most Democrats said nothing” about the San Diego mayor’s serial sexual harassment and the former congressman’s serial sexting of strangers, the memo charges, “With their silence, they are sanctioning the actions of Bob Filner and Anthony Weiner and numerous others who have assaulted, harassed, and preyed on women.”

Now, Virginia attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has picked up on the theme, sending out a fund raising email with a graphic connecting Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe and President Obama with Weiner and Filner.

“By not condemning Weiner and Filner’s unacceptable behavior towards women, leaders like Obama and McAuliffe are signaling to our young people that it’s okay for powerful American leaders to harass, humiliate and assault women,” the email reads.

As many commentators have noted, the GOP’s new attempt to turn the tables on the War on Women isn’t exactly convincing, especially coming from the party of trans-vaginal ultrasounds and “legitimate rape.”

But the argument is almost comical coming from Cuccinelli, who has one of the most extreme records in the country when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights. This is a candidate who:

Yet, Terry McAuliffe is waging “the real war on women” because of the actions of a man he’s never met who lives on the opposite side of the country.

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