The Times-Dispatch is reporting an interesting bit of back story to the budget drama that appears (for now) to have been resolved last night. According to the report, Speaker Howell had the staff of the Clerk of the House’s office working overtime to get a budget enrolled and communicated to the Governor as quickly as possible after the June 12 General Assembly session, which was just ahead of Father’s Day weekend. You will recall that as the session that produced the grassroots-inspired amendments blocking unilateral expansion of Medicaid by the Governor.
As it turns out, the Clerk’s staff completed their work quickly. The Times-Dispatch reports:
Administration officials said the House had told them not to expect the budget before early last week. When representatives of the House contacted the administration that Sunday, Father’s Day, House emissaries were informed that nobody would be present at the offices to receive the document. Howell had the budget delivered anyway, and an email was sent some 15 minutes later informing the administration that it had been left at the office.
But if the Governor’s office wasn’t open, and the Governor’s staff indicated they wouldn’t be there to receive it, how was the budget delivered? Speaker Howell secured the assistance of the Capitol Police (who work for the General Assembly) to penetrate the multiple layers of security in the Patrick Henry Building so that the House staff could plop the budget down inside the Governor’s office suite, all without assistance from the State Police (who have responsibility for the Governor’s security).
[O]fficials viewed the Sunday drop of the massive document to the unoccupied office not only as a breach of security, but as political gamesmanship designed, in part, to deprive McAuliffe of a weekend to review the two-year, $96 billion spending plan.”
Message from Bill to Terry: In your face, loser!
This Father’s Day token of the Speaker’s esteem was apparently appreciated in the spirit in which it was offered. Which is to say, the Governor’s people were livid.
What occurred here Sunday is unacceptable,” [states a letter from McAuliffe chief of staff Paul Reagan to the Capitol Police]. “Two employees of the Speaker of the House of Delegates were given access to an area of the Governor’s office where sensitive files and materials are kept. For good reason, it is an area that is surrounded by three security perimeters. Even on a normal business day, very few people — including members of the Governor’s cabinet — can gain access to this suite of offices. We certainly do not expect to have agents and employees of the General Assembly roaming through these offices on weekends.”
Just because it’s the “Virginia Way” doesn’t mean politics here ain’t hardball.