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Virginia Democrats And Republicans Fight Over Investigating Senator's Resignation

This Thursday Feb. 10, 2010 file photo shows State Sen. Phillip Puckett D-Russell, during the Senate Committee on Agriculture, conservation and Natural Resources public hearing.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
This Thursday Feb. 10, 2010 file photo shows State Sen. Phillip Puckett D-Russell, during the Senate Committee on Agriculture, conservation and Natural Resources public hearing.

Democrats and Republicans in Virginia are at odds over the value of investigating the resignation of a state senator.

House Democratic Leader David Toscano is calling for an investigation into the Virginia Tobacco Commission, adding his voice to other Democrats who want answers about the controversial resignation of state Senator Phil Puckett. But some Republicans say that's hypocritical because nobody is calling for an investigation into Delegate Bob Brink and Delegate Alge Howell, who both resigned to take positions in the McAuliffe administration.

"I don't think anybody should be investigated," says Republican Delegate Dave Albo. He says Democrats are being inconsistent by calling for an investigation into Puckett but not a probe into Brink and Howell. "The fact that Puckett's retirement meant that Republicans would take control is a fact that is irrelevant to an alleged crime."

Democratic Delegate Rob Krupicka disagrees. He says Puckett's resignation should raise questions about why he left the Senate to take a position with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, a job he didn't end up accepting in the wake of a media firestorm.

"Whether or not it's relevant from a legal standpoint I don't know. Whether it is relevant from a good government ethical high ground standpoint is highly relevant," he says.

Krupicka says Puckett resigned during an intense public policy debate in a way that changed the outcome of the budget battle. That's not true of the Brink resignation or the Howell resignation, which Krupicka says should raise red flags about Puckett's actions.

"What he did is 180 degrees different than the typical resignations you see when people move on to take other public service jobs," he argues.

A grand jury is investigating Puckett's resignation, which allowed Republicans to take control of the state Senate and changed the momentum in the debate over expanding Medicaid to four hundred thousand Virginians who live in poverty or with disabilities.

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