A sex-free Virginia political scandal?


You know, we spend all kinds of time poking and prodding into the seamy, unsavory corners of Virginia’s political basement, so you can trust us on this one: When it comes to truly spectacular governmental corruption, the Old Dominion is way down on the list. Sure, a few U.S. House members got caught up in the bribes-and-bimbos shenanigans of California congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham a few years back (most notably ex-Representative Virgil Goode, who had to explain away $46,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Cunningham cohort Mitchell Wade), but nobody got indicted, much less imprisoned. So that barely counts as a ripple in the vast, slimy sea of illegal activity that certain other states’ officials are swimming in.

Now, where Virginia politicos have managed to keep pace is in the sordid realm of embarrassing sexual peccadilloes. In fact, if you call up the “Political scandals of the United States” page on Wikipedia.com, the only Virginia events deemed worthy of inclusion are Senator Chuck Robb’s alleged 1991 affair with Miss Virginia Tai Collins and the taped, gay-prostitute-soliciting phone calls that forced U.S. Representative Ed Schrock to abandon his 2004 re-election bid.

So it is with great civic pride and hope for the future of political corruption across the commonwealth that we proudly report the case of Del. Phillip A. Hamilton, a Newport News go-getter who apparently angled to get a cushy job at a new Old Dominion University teaching center before submitting a $500,000 budget amendment dedicated to the center’s creation.

Ah, a classic pay-for-play scheme! Sure, it’s a little bland and unimaginative, but at least it’s a start. Besides, what Hamilton lacks in imagination, he more than makes up for in chutzpah. As obtained and reported by the Daily Press, Hamilton’s e-mail requests to ODU administrator David A. Blackburn are impressively brazen in their specificity.

“I will need to supplement my current…income ($38,000) by at least an equal amount…for $75,000 a year. Thanks,” Hamilton wrote in December of 2006—after informing Blackburn that he had filed a budget amendment to create the center. Later that day, he followed up with this: “When we talked about the center last August, I expressed an interest in being associated with the initiative from a professional perspective. Since then, I haven’t heard anything more about an employment possibility.”

About a month later, Hamilton repeated his request, insisting, “I really need about $6,000 a month, or $72,000 a year. Thanks for everything.” Then, on February 26, 2007, he once again explained to Blackburn that he needs “a part-time salary of $75,000,” before adding, “Of course, more than that is always appreciated.”

Sadly, with both gubernatorial candidates calling for his resignation, and current Governor Tim Kaine backing an ethics investigation into his activities, Hamilton has not only lost his $40,000-a-year gig at ODU, but will probably be drummed out of the legislature before he can make any more mischief.

Which, if you ask us, is short-sighted in the extreme. After all, how are we ever going to catch up to corruption powerhouses like Chicago and New Jersey if we keep sacking our rising stars before they can do any real damage?

Oh well—guess we’ll just have to make due with yet another boring sex scandal. Who’s Miss Virginia hanging out with these days, anyway?