Ken Cuccinelli bullies a state board into surrender
September 21, 2012
IN THREE YEARS as Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II (R) has demeaned his office by using it as a blatantly partisan bully pulpit to attack Obamacare, illegal immigrants, homosexuals and climate-change scientists. Now he has managed to bully Virginia’s Board of Health into a stance — unprecedented in state history — that could force most of the commonwealth’s 20 or so abortion clinics to close.
Mr. Cuccinelli, who was a champion of the anti-abortion movement as a legislator, has clung to his current office even as he runs for governor. In doing so, he ignores the example of former Virginia attorneys general of both parties who resigned to run rather than politicize the office. In the Cuccinelli worldview, rendering dispassionate legal advice takes a back seat to agenda-pushing.
So it was in keeping with Mr. Cuccinelli’s crusading style when he threatened members of the state Board of Health last week, warning that they might have to bear the cost of their own legal defense unless they toed his line on abortion regulations. If that threat of non-representation — call it the Cuccinelli Principle — were to apply broadly, it’s unlikely that Virginia could fill vacancies on any agencies, boards or commissions. Many citizens would refuse to serve, knowing that the exercise of their best judgment might leave them financially exposed based on the political whims of an attorney general.
The Board of Health buckled, voting 13 to 2 last week to reverse its position. If that decision survives a public comment period and review by Mr. McDonnell, Virginia will be known for two things — the nation’s most draconian anti-abortion regulations and its most politicized attorney general’s office.