The head of the state tobacco commission warned that the panel would create the appearance of “manipulating” power in the Virginia Senate if it announced that it was hiring Sen. Phillip P. Puckett on the same day he gave up his seat, according to e-mails released Thursday.
Tim Pfohl, interim executive director of the commission, said in a June 5 e-mail to Puckett, a Democrat from rural Russell County, that he had begged Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) to delay making it known that Puckett was getting a top staff job with the commission. Kilgore is chairman of the commission.
“Phillip: Terry spoke to us today about announcing your role w/ the Commission in conjunction with what he said is your intention to announce your Senate plans tomorrow,” Pfohl wrote. “I implored him to ‘decouple’ those announcements for the sake of the appearance of the Commission manipulating the Senate balance of power and starting WW3 w/ the Governor’s administration.”
Pfohl went on to say that the commission’s executive committee still planned to meet a few days later to give Puckett the job.
“I mention all this so you know what’s being planned on our end to give this the most defensible appearance of due process,” Pfohl added.
In other words, this is clearly a case where Puckett was rewarded with the commissioner's job for resigning his state Senate seat and giving power to the GOP, so obvious that that the commission's interim head honcho emailed people to beg them to try to make the rotten deal not appear so bloody obvious.
These emails also prove that the deal was in the works before Puckett resigned, which is a huge problem. In no way was this a spontaneous act, but a deliberate thumb, hand, arm, shoulder and body on holding down the scale to tip it in favor of the crooked Virginia GOP.
Oh, but it gets worse.
The e-mail messages indicated that the commission was creating the post especially for Puckett, who was asked to help come up with his own job description. The position was to come with state employee benefits, a cell phone and possibly a car, according to the e-mails. The salary was not specified.
And remember, all of this was done in order to give Virginia Republicans the window they needed in order to pass a budget that strips social programs and Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions from needy Virginians. Puckett's ridiculously unethical and illegal deal was the price, and the ones paying it are thousands of Virginians who will not get health coverage as a result.
All this just to screw over poor people. The American way, right? Or at least, the Republican way.