Political Correction

Ken Cuccinelli: Conservative Crusader

August 04, 2010 5:13 pm ET

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has earned the media's attention and the Tea Party's adoration with his high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and outspoken support for Arizona-style immigration laws.  Cuccinelli's status as Virginia's top lawyer, however, does not mean he should be considered a credible authority on legal issues.  Rather, he is a conservative true-believer, with a history of supporting far-right positions, whose political agenda and ambitions are clear.  Here is a brief summation of Cuccinelli's record.

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli 2002-2010

Cuccinelli Won Special Election For The State Senate In 2002.  The Washington Post reported:

Republican Ken Cuccinelli won a seat in the Virginia Senate yesterday, after an intense four-week campaign in southwestern Fairfax County in which he appealed to voters with a conservative message of opposition to higher taxes and abortion.

Cuccinelli, 34, a patent lawyer from Centreville, defeated Democrat Cathy Belter in the special election to represent the fast-growing 37th Senate District, outside the Capital Beltway. He received 10,041 votes, or 55 percent of the total cast, according to unofficial returns from the State Board of Elections. A turnout of 16 percent, high for a midsummer election, reflected interest in the race's clashing ideas on taxes, traffic congestion, social issues and public school spending.

[Washington Post, 8/7/02, via Nexis]

State Sen. Cuccinelli On Immigration

Cuccinelli Blasted President Bush For Pushing Immigration Reform.  According to the Washington Times:

A Republican member of the Virginia Senate criticized President Bush for supporting an immigration plan that awards amnesty [sic] to millions of illegal aliens, telling supporters he no longer considers Mr. Bush the leader of the Republican Party.

"Dear Fellow Republican: My president is wrong," state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II told supporters in an e-mail. "There's no other way to say it. ... For much of his presidency, President Bush has functioned as the head of the Republican Party. Not any more. ... This immigration bill is something of a 'last straw' for ordinary Republicans" [...]

Mr. Cuccinelli told The Washington Times that while Mr. Bush is a "good-hearted man," he had become a political liability to the party.

"Some things that this alleged conservative has done are so outrageous that sometimes it leaves you scratching your head," he said. "The notion of being for something like amnesty is contrary to the Republican history of being" for individual responsibility and the rule of law.

[Washington Times, 6/5/07, via Nexis]

Cuccinelli Championed Bill To Deny Unemployment Benefits To Legal Immigrants Who Don't Speak English.  As reported by the Washington Post:

A Republican state senator from Fairfax County has introduced a proposal that would allow a boss to fire employees who don't speak English in the workplace, which would make them ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II said the law is needed because a growing number of employers in Northern Virginia are frustrated that some immigrants never learn English, although they said they would when they were hired.

"The point here isn't to be mean; the point is to allow circumstances to give employers their own ability to hire and fire people who may not speak English," Cuccinelli said.

Some Democrats and immigration rights activists said they were outraged at Cuccinelli, saying the bill demeans the 1 in 10 Virginians who were born outside the United States. They said Cuccinelli's proposal was aimed at new legal residents who aren't native English speakers. Illegal immigrants are already ineligible for unemployment benefits.

[Washington Post, 1/17/08, emphasis added]

Cuccinelli Introduced Measure To End Birthright Citizenship Under The Fourteenth Amendment.  According to the Manassas Journal Messenger:

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II, R-Fairfax, on Monday called for a change to the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment that would modify requirements for birthright citizenship.

Cuccinelli's proposal would not allow a person born in the United States to automatically become a citizen unless one of their parents was already a citizen.

He said he's drafted the resolution to address the problem of "anchor babies," which are born in the U.S. to parents who do not have legal documentation to be in the country.

He described his Senate Joint Resolution during a press conference with Save the Old Dominion, an umbrella group containing members from anti-illegal immigrant activist groups such as Help Save Manassas.

[Manassas Journal Messenger, 1/22/08, via Nexis]

State Sen. Cuccinelli On Guns

Cuccinelli Supported "Guns In Bars" Bill.  According to the Washington Post:

A Virginia Senate committee killed a bill yesterday that would have allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants.

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), chairman of the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, said members were split 7 to 7 on the measure and on a compromise proposal, so he tabled the bill without debate or a vote.

"There were seven votes all over the place to do a number of things, but there weren't eight votes anywhere to do anything," said Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax), a committee member who backed a compromise that would have prohibited gun owners from drinking while armed.

Backers of the bill said having to leave behind firearms when going to dinner violates Second Amendment rights and is impractical.

[Washington Post, 2/15/03, via Nexis]

State Sen. Cuccinelli On Sex

Cuccinelli Condemned College Fair Promoting Sexual Health.  According to 10news.com:

Organizers say "Sextravaganza," a controversial health fair that will take place Monday at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va., will raise awareness about such issues as safe sex, date rape and sexual health. However, the one-day event sponsored by the Pro-Choice Patriots student group has sparked controversy.

Student organizer Amanda Agan told WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., "We're really just trying to educate students and arm them with all the tools so they can make an informed decision about sex. We really have no political agenda at all. We have all sides represented."

But Virginia State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli disagreed. "They're pushing a pro-sex agenda and an anything-goes agenda," Cuccinelli said. "And that's what this Sextravaganza is all about."

[10news.com, 4/25/05]

Cuccinelli: "There Is No Such Thing" As Safe Homosexual Sex. According to 10news.com:

Organizers said the fair will provide 15 booths with information on abstinence, condoms and self-help exams, as well as sexual orientation, which has also riled Cuccinelli.

"You can't have safe homosexual sex. There is no such thing and yet one of the sponsoring groups is the homosexual group on campus," he said.

[10news.com, 4/25/05, emphasis added]

Cuccinelli Said Abstinence-Only Education Would "Delay" Sexual Activity And Lead To "Healthier And Happier Kids."  In 2007, Cuccinelli spoke out against Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's decision to cut off state funding for abstinence-only sex education, saying: "The longer you delay the commencement of sexual activity, you have healthier and happier kids and more successful kids." [WTOP.com, 11/13/07]

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli Campaigned On A Far-Right Platform. According to Robert McCartney in the Washington Post:

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax County, the Republican candidate to be the state's top lawyer, portrays the environmental movement as a socialist ploy and said in 2003 that homosexuality is just plain wrong.

If elected, he promises to use the state attorney general's office as a platform to advance his causes, such as reducing Virginia's divorce rate and battling with Washington over laws or regulations that he thinks violate states' rights. His idea of a compelling issue was championing a measure last year to make it easier to deny unemployment benefits to immigrant workers fired for not speaking English.

 [Washington Post, 10/29/09, via Nexis]

Cuccinelli Advocated Abolishing The Department Of Education, Worried That Social Security Numbers Are "Being Used To Track You." As reported by the Washington Post:

Cuccinelli, who is a devout Catholic and home-schools four of his seven children, has said he supports abolishing the U.S. Department of Education. A video clip making the rounds on GOP and Democratic blogs shows Cuccinelli at a spring campaign event saying that he might not obtain a Social Security number for his seventh child out of fear that it "is being used to track you."

In an interview, Cuccinelli said he supports the concept of public education but also believes in small government. He did end up obtaining a Social Security number for 2-month-old Max, he said, and explained that his comments were part of a larger discussion about privacy and the over-reliance on Social Security numbers for identification purposes.

[Washington Post, 6/12/09, via Nexis]

Cuccinelli Pledged That As Attorney General He Would "Address Events And Political Debates That Arise Rather Than Stoking Them."  As reported by The Roanoke Times, "Cuccinelli has never been one to back away from or compromise on his beliefs. But he said the job will require him to move from a proactive stance to a reactive one: 'It will require a bit of a shift in how I function, but still the bully pulpit is there. And I'll certainly use it. But I think what you'll find is I'll use it to address events and political debates that arise rather than stoking them.'" [The Roanoke Times, 10/22/10, via Nexis, emphasis added] 

AG Cuccinelli Prepared To Fight Health Care Reform Before It Became Law

February 3, 2010: Cuccinelli Voiced His Eagerness To Defend Proposed State Law That Says Virginians Are Not Required To Buy Health Insurance. In an interview with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network, Cuccinelli stated that, if a Virginia state law "declar[ing] mandatory health insurance to be illegal" passes: "we would have a conflict of laws. And then the attorney general, me, would be in a position of defending the Virginia law, and also attacking the Constitutional problems with the proposed health care bill as it stands. We'll see what they do to change it. But clearly what we've done in Virginia is set a bar where we do not accept the individual mandate for our citizens. We'll defend that position." He also said of the proposed Virginia law: "It is great to see freedom break out on a bipartisan basis here in Virginia, the birthplace of freedom in America. We were very happy with it." [Fox Business Network, 2/3/10, via Nexis]

March 1: Cuccinelli On Individual Mandate Challenge: "We're Ready To Go." According to Newsweek: "...Virginia, pending the governor's expected signature, may soon be the first state to tell residents they would not need to comply. 'We're ready to go,' says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has vowed (with Florida's Bill McCollum and at least a dozen other attorneys general) to file suit against the mandate the moment it becomes law." [Newsweek, 3/1/10, via Nexis, parenthesis original]

March 11: The Virginia Legislature Passed A Bill "That Would Make It Illegal For The Government To Require Individuals To Purchase Health Insurance." According to the Washington Post: "The Virginia General Assembly has given final approval to a bill that would make it illegal for the government to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a measure intended to conflict with Democratic efforts to reform health care in Washington... Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said Wednesday that he intends to sign the legislation." [Washington Post, 3/11/10]

March 16: Cuccinelli Wrote American Spectator Column Condemning Congressional Health Care Reform Before The Bill Was Passed. In a March 16, 2010 column in the American Spectator, Cuccinelli wrote: "The various versions of health care reform that Democrats in Congress have championed over the last year have all contained provisions that are inconsistent with the original understanding and plain text of the Constitution...The entire endeavor is inconsistent with the notion of a limited federal government. Furthermore, the coercion of individual citizens and the co-opting of state legislatures violate the plain text of both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments...Proponents of liberty must use all of the tools the Constitution provides to defend against this onslaught on our liberty...For me, I will stand for liberty." [American Spectator, 3/1610]

March 18: Cuccinelli Promised To File Legal Challenge To Health Care Bill Before The Final Version Passed The House. According to the Washington Post: "Virginia will file a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Democratic health-care reform bill if Congress approves the measure, a spokesman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said Wednesday. Cuccinelli (R), a social and fiscal conservative who has expressed deep skepticism about the growth of the federal government, has said since his fall election campaign that he was studying the legal issues involved in such a suit." [Washington Post, 3/18/10, parenthesis original]

March 19: Cuccinelli Was Interviewed By FOX News Two Days Before The Final Health Care Bill Passed About His Plans To Challenge It. In a March 19 interview with Bill Hemmer on FOX News, Cuccinelli stated: "if it's signed into law as it currently stands, Virginia, on a bipartisan basis this year, passed a law forbidding the requirement of an individual mandate, so we'd have a conflict of a state law and a federal law. And when you have such a conflict usually the federal law trumps, but the federal law has to be grounded in the Constitution and our argument will be that the federal law overreaches the constitutional authority of Congress, particularly the commerce clause, which is what the Senate is relying on. Not buying insurance is not commerce, to put it bluntly. And to force Americans to do that goes beyond their constitutional authority." [FOX News, 3/19/10, via Nexis]

March 22: Cuccinelli Released Video Statement Explaining Health Care Suit Intentions. On March 22, 2010, Beehive Video posted a "video statement regarding the intention of the Commonwealth of Virginia to file suit against the federal government over the health care reform bill passed by the Congress" by Cuccinelli in which he stated, "if you buy health insurance, that's an act in commerce. If you don't buy health insurance, not buying health insurance is not commerce. How can the federal government regulate not buying health insurance as commerce? Virginia says it can't. Just being alive is not interstate commerce. If it were, then the Congress could regulate everything we do in our lives regardless and there'd be no boundaries whatsoever." [Beehive Video, 3/22/10]

AG Cuccinelli Has Ties To The Health Care Industry

Cuccinelli Has Received Almost $60,000 From The Medical And Pharmaceuticals Industries. According to Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports on the Virginia Board of Elections website, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's Attorney General campaign committee received $59,600 in contributions from PACs and businesses in the medical, health care, dental and pharmaceutical industries in 2009 and 2010. These contributions include:

Medical and Health Care



 Political Action Committees

[Virginia Board of Elections, accessed 7/29/10]

AG Cuccinelli: Constitution Does Not Prevent Discrimination Against Gays

Cuccinelli Told State Universities To Remove "Sexual Orientation" From Non-Discrimination Policies. As reported by the Washington Post:

In his most aggressive initiative on conservative social issues since taking office in January, Cuccinelli (R) wrote in the letter sent Thursday that only the General Assembly can extend legal protections to gay state employees, students and others -- a move the legislature has repeatedly declined to take as recently as this week. [...]

Cuccinelli's move has dismayed students and faculty members. It suggests that Cuccinelli intends to take a harder line with the state's university system, where liberal academics have long coexisted uneasily with state leaders in Richmond.

"It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression,' or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly," he wrote in the letter.

Colleges that have included such language in policies that govern university hiring and admissions -- which include all of Virginia's largest schools -- have done so "without proper authority" and should "take appropriate actions to bring their policies in conformance with the law and public policy of Virginia," Cuccinelli wrote.

[Washington Post, 3/6/10, emphasis added]

Cuccinelli: The 14th Amendment Does Not Protect Gays And Lesbians. According to the Lynchburg, VA News & Advance:

Another student took aim at the attorney general's advice concerning homosexual people.


"State universities are not free to create any specially protected classes other than those dictated by the General Assembly," Cuccinelli said.

"Your question is, why is that not a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Frankly, the category of sexual orientation would never have been contemplated by the people who wrote and voted for and passed the 14th Amendment," he said.

[News & Advance, 6/26/10]

AG Cuccinelli Wants To Bring Arizona-Style Immigration Enforcement To Virginia

Cuccinelli Signed On To Brief Defending Arizona's Anti-Immigration Law.  As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined eight other states today in support of Arizona's new immigration law.

The amicus brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, defends Arizona's and all states' authority to enforce federal immigration laws along with the federal government. This is particularly true because of the selective and lack of enforcement by the federal government, the brief states.

[Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/14/10]

Cuccinelli: Virginia Police Officers Can Inquire About Immigration Status.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has issued an opinion that Virginia law enforcement officers, including conservation officers, may inquire into the immigration status of people who are either stopped or arrested.

The opinion, sought by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, comes amid a new push by the chairman of the Prince William Board of County supervisors for an immigration crackdown in Virginia, on the heels of Arizona enacting some of the toughest immigration laws in the nation.

"It is my opinion that Virginia law enforcement officers, including conservation officers, may, like Arizona police officers, inquire into the immigration status of persons stopped or arrested," Cuccinelli wrote. 

[Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/2/10]

Cuccinelli: Law Enforcement Officials Can Ask About Immigration Status Based On "Requisite Level Of Suspicion." As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Cuccinelli went on to say that Virginia law enforcement officers have the authority to make the same inquiries as those contemplated by the new Arizona law. 

"So long as the officers have the requisite level of suspicion to believe that a violation of the law has occurred, the officers may detain and briefly question a person they suspect has committed a federal crime. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has found that so long as the questioning does not prolong a lawful detention, police may ask questions about immigration status." 

[Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/2/10]

AG Cuccinelli Showing Signs Of National Ambition

Cuccinelli Has Gained "A National Name" And "Some Political Gravitas" As Virginia Attorney General. According to The Virginian-Pilot: "In the early going, Cuccinelli has displayed 'a larger than life personality that people didn't recognize when he was in the legislature,' observed Christopher Newport University political expert Quentin Kidd. In so doing, added Kidd, the attorney general has gained 'a national name' and 'some political gravitas.'" [The Virginian-Pilot, 4/5/10]

Cuccinelli "Hasn't...Dismissed A Run For Higher Office In The Future." According to The Virginian-Pilot: "Cuccinelli hasn't completely dismissed a run for higher office in the future, but said his current plan is to seek re-election in four years in this Associated Press profile of the attorney general." [The Virginian-Pilot, 4/5/10]

University of Virginia Political Expert: Cuccinelli Is "Going To Become One Of The Best Known State Attorneys General In The Country." According to The Virginian-Pilot: "In the meantime, some observers believe Cucinelli's public profile will further expand over the course of what promises to be an eventful and newsy term for Virginia's top prosecutor. 'The only thing Ken Cuccinelli's supporters and opponents agree on is that he's going to become one of the best known state attorneys general in the country, for better or worse,' said University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato." [The Virginian-Pilot, 4/5/10]

Cuccinelli On Possible Virginia Governor Run: "Decisions Of Things Like That Are For The Future." According to the Charlottesville News & Arts Weekly, Cuccinelli "won't say whether or not he'll run for governor, for re-election, or for something else entirely. 'Decisions of things like that are for the future,' he says." [Charlottesville News & Arts Weekly, 7/13/10]

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