Friday, April 02, 2010

The sun came up; Cuccinelli struts

On the job since Jan. 16, it hasn't taken Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli long to make headlines. Actually, it seems that's a good part of what he has in mind. But you probably can't file a new lawsuit against the federal government every day of the week. So, in order to make headlines some days, he has to make statements about one of his lawsuits.

But when one goes totally wiseass, by making an absurd claim, one invites his own ruin to join in the game. It hasn't taken Cuccinelli long to do that, either.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office says records that would document the time, resources and meetings involved in its lawsuit against federal health-care legislation either don't exist or are classified as confidential "working papers" of the agency. Stephen R. McCullough, senior appellate counsel for Cuccinelli, was responding to a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act filed by Democratic Party officials and several media outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Click here to read the entire piece by Jim Nolan.

Cuccinelli's claim that the lawsuit cost Virginia's taxpayers $350 was silly. He invited a FOIA request. Perhaps that's what he wanted. Now his claim that either there are no records, or that any such records are "working papers," makes him sound like he's got something to hide. It sounds somewhat Dick Cheney-esque.

Exactly why aren't Virginians entitled to know how much money its AG's office is spending/about to spend on optional legal action? If his office has a budget, and it does, how that money has been spent/is going to be spent has to be information that we are entitled to see. Why not?

Is Cuccinelli going to say there is a security reason to hide that information? Will terrorists gain some advantage?

With his cock-of-the-walk style the strutting Cuccinelli is reminding me more and more of another Republican wiseass -- Ollie North. But this time the showboat got elected.

Where was former Sen. John Warner to save us from this self-promoter?


Anonymous said...

he's an attorney involved in active litigation against the federal government. Many of his "working papers" are protected attorney work product that should not be disclosed during pending litigation. It's a pretty basic legal premise. You might want to learn about it before you comment.

F.T. Rea said...


So, anything Cuccinelli wants to hide under the title "working papers," is sheltered from public scrutiny?

If the FOIA couldn't sweep aside such a convenient bureaucratic veil it would be rather useless. Still, there's nothing new about politicians in office wanting to hide their tracks.

Thanks for your comment. What would we do without anonymous experts.

Anonymous said...

No, he can't use it to sweep anything aside. But the requests themselves are seeking documents that are clearly privileged from production during the course of a lawsuit. Internal memos, emails, and time entries that reflect specifically what tasks were done and win all convey information that is privileged from discovery when they are prepared by lawyers. It's a very basic legal principle. After the lawsuit is concluded, perhaps FOIA could compel their production (I don't know), but during the litigation it is decidely NOT in the Commonwealth's interest to ever have trial and litigation stratgey revealed to the other side (which is exactly what would happen if Cuccinelli had to produce those documents).