Virginia’s lax ethics laws legalize corruption. Will the GOP ever stop blocking reform?

N MARYLAND, a veteran lawmaker has been charged with using campaign funds to cover her personal expenses. She faces the possibility of years behind bars. In Virginia, her underlying offense would be no offense at all. In fact, it is perfectly legal to use campaign accounts for personal expenses in the Old Dominion, thanks to a Republican-controlled legislature that has refused repeated attempts at reform.

The Maryland case concerns Tawanna P. Gaines, a Prince George’s County Democrat, who is accused of shifting $22,000 to her personal use from contributions solicited for her campaign account. After resigning from the House of Delegates this month, she was charged with federal wire fraud arising from a scheme that involved diverting campaign donations to a personal PayPal account that she did not disclose in state filings.

Virginians want more gun control. Their votes for the legislature can make it happen.

By Editorial Board

Oct. 4, 2019 at 4:48 p.m. EDT

VIRGINIANS SHOULD not forget what happened at the state’s special legislative session on gun safety this summer, when Republicans who control both houses forced an adjournment after just 90 minutes and sent everyone home — and the GOP House speaker allowed the National Rifle Association to set up its command post in his conference room. The party’s leaders made sure there was no debate there on even one of the dozens of bills submitted beforehand.

Could there be any more obvious sign that the NRA and gun-toting acolytes from other groups are indistinguishable satellites of Virginia’s Republican Party — and vice versa?


Tim Hugo misstates Dan Helmer's position on private health insurance

By Warren Fiske | PolitiFact | September 18th, 2019

Tim Hugo, the last-standing Republican state delegate in Northern Virginia, is telling voters that Democratic challenger Dan Helmer wants to abolish private health insurance.

Hugo has made the claim in at least four campaign mailings in the 40th House District, which spans portions of Fairfax and Prince William Counties. Here’s a sampling:

"While my opponent believes in abolishing our health care system entirely and replacing it with a plan that will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, I believe we can make improvements to our current system while protecting private insurance," Hugo wrote in a Sept. 10 letter.


How to send a message on gun violence in Virginia

The Washington Post

By Editorial Board

August 31, 2019 at 6:38 p.m. EDT

VIRGINIA IS one of four states facing legislative elections this fall, and the only one where control of both chambers, each run by Republicans holding tissue-thin margins, hangs in the balance. Small wonder, then, to see one of the most vulnerable Republicans, now clinging to a seat in Northern Virginia, struggling to do damage control on a key issue: guns.

The state has suffered its share of firearms-induced carnage: 32 people massacred in 2007 by a gunman on the campus of Virginia Tech; an additional dozen killed this May by a shooter at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. Neither trauma dented state Republicans’ determination to block even the most popular gun safety measures or rescind sensible ones already on the books.

In 2012, the General Assembly, led by Republicans, repealed a 20-year-old law limiting handgun purchases to one a month. And while a 2017 poll showed that 9 in 10 Virginians support background checks for all gun purchases, GOP legislators have consistently refused to close a yawning loophole in state law that requires no such checks for any firearms purchase from private sellers.

Del. Timothy D. Hugo, a Republican who represents a suburban district straddling Fairfax and Prince William counties, has backed those and other pro-gun positions during his 10 terms in office. He opposed allowing localities to regulate firearms without Richmond’s permission and voted to allow concealed handguns to be carried inside bars and restaurants that sell liquor. As the third-ranking Republican in the House of Delegates, he also helped orchestrate the party’s abrupt shutdown of a special legislative session on gun safety measures last month, called by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) after the Virginia Beach massacre.

Those stances have earned Mr. Hugo an A rating from the National Rifle Association. They’ve also proved awkward for Mr. Hugo, who was reelected in 2017 by just 106 votes out of roughly 30,000 cast. This year, he faces a formidable opponent, Democrat Dan Helmer, a U.S. Military Academy graduate who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Faced with the dawning realization that he is radically out of step with his constituents, Mr. Hugo is belatedly making a gesture meant to convey that he is open to sensible gun regulations — his record notwithstanding. Having opposed tough “red flag” bills in the past — measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a risk to themselves or others — he now says he favors one. In fact, the bill, proposed by another suburban Republican battling to keep his seat, mostly tracks existing mental-health laws. It would do little to keep guns from dangerous and violent people who have not been diagnosed as mentally ill.

There are other reasons to oppose Mr. Hugo, who has blocked key measures to improve transportation and shocked even GOP colleagues by using campaign funds (read: special-interest cash) for snacks, groceries, gas fill-ups and other daily expenses. His extreme record on firearms suggests he has not gotten the message that gun violence is a mortal threat to the public. Perhaps Northern Virginia voters will deliver it.

The Next Front In the Fight Over Gun Control? Virginia

CENTREVILLE, Va. — At door after door, house after house, Dan Helmer, a Democrat running for the Virginia House of Delegates, found voters of both parties telling him one thing as he canvassed for support Tuesday night: Do something about the mass shootings.

“I have it on the TV right now,” Reza Darvishian, a State Department security engineer, told Mr. Helmer on the porch of his home. “I’m sick of listening to all of this stuff.”

That’s not what the Republican incumbent in the race, Tim Hugo, says he is hearing from his constituents. Gun violence is of comparatively little concern to voters, Mr. Hugo said. Instead they want to talk about the same issues that have animated suburban voters for the generation he’s been in office.

Helmer Challenges Hugo’s Corporate Donors to Stop Subsidizing Gun Violence

Today, Dan Helmer, the Democratic nominee for Virginia's 40th House District, called on Visa and other corporate donors to Republican House Caucus Chair, Tim Hugo, to seek refunds of their donations to his campaigns. Helmer suggested these organizations send that money to the families of Virginia Beach victims, their families, and other victims of gun violence. Helmer also called on Visa to cancel a $5,000 per person fundraiser they are hosting for Hugo on June 18.

Democrats cheer, Republicans jeer McAuliffe’s plan to boost Virginia candidates

Democrats cheer, Republicans jeer McAuliffe’s plan to boost Virginia candidates

By Laura Vozzella , Antonio Olivo and Gregory S. Schneider | April 18

RICHMOND — Virginia Democrats cheered and Republicans lobbed their sharpest “T-Mac” barbs Thursday in response to former governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to forgo a White House bid and devote the next year to turning the General Assembly blue.

“It really doesn’t get much better than Terry raising money,” said Del. Lashrecse D. Aird (D-Petersburg), adding that other Democrats she has spoken with share her excitement. “Terry has been very popular with Virginians . . . so it makes it very easy for him to step into this role.”

Fundraising dries up for Virginia’s three tainted leaders, but not for their fellow Democrats

Fundraising dries up for Virginia’s three tainted leaders, but not for their fellow Democrats

By Laura Vozzella | April 16

RICHMOND — Fundraising took a dive for Virginia’s top three Democrats after they were mired in separate scandals early this year, but Democrats running in legislative races still raised substantially more than Republicans, according to first-quarter fundraising reports released Tuesday.

Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark R. Herring have raised $2,500 and $17,250 respectively since admitting in the first week of February that they had worn blackface as young men. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has raised no money since two women stepped forward that week to say he had sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s — accusations he has strongly denied.

Helmer campaign shatters Q1 Fundraising Records in Effort to Flip Virginia House

April 15, 2019

Fairfax, VA – Dan Helmer, an Army veteran and the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s House of Delegates in the 40th District, announced today that he had raised more than $124,000 during the first quarter. That is more than any challenger to a Republican House incumbent in Virginia history. Helmer’s first quarter raise exceeded the largest Q1 fundraising total of Democratic challengers from 2017’s “Blue Wave” election by over 50%. His race against Republican House Caucus Chairman, Tim Hugo, is considered a top tier flip target by state Democrats and is seen as a key to Democrats taking a majority in the General Assembly in this November’s elections.

Former congresswoman Giffords works to help Democrats win Va. General Assembly on gun issue

Former congresswoman Giffords works to help Democrats win Va. General Assembly on gun issue

By Antonio Olivo | March 22

The gun-control group headed by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords plans to endorse Democrats in two key Republican-held districts in Virginia on Friday, part of an effort to help the party regain control of the General Assembly in the fall.

The Giffords group said it will support Dan Helmer in his Fairfax County race against Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), and Del. John Bell (D-Loudoun) in his bid to fill retiring Republican Sen. Richard H. Black’s Loudoun County seat.

Internship Opportunities!

Helmer for Virginia is seeking qualified, enthusiastic students to serve as part-time interns. Internship responsibilities include working with the Finance Director to plan and build fundraising events, making fundraising calls, conducting donor research, writing email blasts, and other duties as they arise. Diverse candidates are encouraged to apply.

Virginia court system ‘crippled’ by political dispute over appointing judges

Virginia court system ‘crippled’ by political dispute over appointing judges

By Antonio Olivo

November 22, 2018

A political stalemate in Fairfax County has left several local court seats vacant, delaying criminal ­cases and child-custody disputes in Virginia’s largest judicial circuit.

At the center of the controversy is Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), whose mostly western Fairfax district became an island of red in Northern Virginia after a wave of Democratic victories in 2017 that left Republicans with only slim majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates.