ENG: Robert Francis "Bob" McDonnell (born June 15, 1954) is the 71st and current Governor of Virginia and a former lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. McDonnell served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1993 until he was elected Attorney General in 2005. After campaigning as a pragmatist, McDonnell was elected as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, defeating Democratic state Senator Creigh Deeds by a seventeen point margin in the 2009 general election. McDonnell was inaugurated on January 16, 2010 on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol and succeeded Tim Kaine.
Since taking office, McDonnell has battled on issues including declaring a Confederate History Month, balancing the state's budget, extending a contract to outsource the state's computer operations, selling off the state's liquor stores, and promoting drilling of oil and gas wells off Virginia's shores. He has sought to fund transportation improvements from non-traditional revenues sources including a proposal to auction-off liquor stores and establishing a toll booth at the Virginia-North Carolina border. He has used his amendatory veto power to restrict state funding for abortions.
McDonnell's term expires in January 2014, and the Virginia Constitution prevents him from running for a second consecutive term.
Candidate for governor
McDonnell announced his candidacy for the 2009 Virginia Gubernatorial election at American Legion's Boy's State of Virginia 2007, making him the seventh consecutive elected Attorney General to run. The statewide candidates, including McDonnell as Governor, were selected at a Republican State convention rather than a primary. Less than two weeks later, State Senator R. Creigh Deeds won his party’s nomination in a primary, setting up a “rematch” from the state attorney general’s race four years earlier.
In early June, Creigh Deeds possessed a slight edge with a 47%-41% advantage in the early polls. As the campaign continued to progressed, the polls shifted toward McDonnell's favor, giving him even a commanding lead in some.
When the Washington Post released McDonnell's thesis from Regent University, McDonnell's lead dwindled to only two percentage points per Rasmussen polling. As the election proceeded, McDonnell's campaign regained steam. McDonnell defeated opponent Creigh Deeds in the general election by a vote of 59%-41%, receiving the highest percentage of the vote for any candidate for governor since 1961. At the same time, the other two statewide offices on the ballot were also won by Republicans.
Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
On January 16, 2010, McDonnell was inaugurated as the 71st governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, replacing Tim Kaine as governor. This was the first inaugural ceremony to occur on the newly renovated steps of the Virginia State Capitol.
In keeping with tradition, McDonnell signed executive orders after taking the oath. Instead of keeping with a 30-year practice by signing an executive order banning discrimination in state employment (which he later signed on February 5), McDonnell signed orders establishing a Commission on job creation and a Virginia Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.
Two of McDonnell's appointments drew criticism. On May 7, 2010, McDonnell appointed Fred Malek to chair a 31-member advisory commission on reforming state government. On May 10, 2010, several Democratic members of the Legislature criticized the appointment due to Malek's controversial actions as personnel director in the Nixon White House and due to a 2007 SEC investigation settlement. On May 25, 2010, McDonnell was asked about the Malek appointment and stated that he was not aware of Malek's role in the Nixon Administration, a remark which State Senator A. Robert C. Sledd to Secretary of Commerce and Trade, but withdrew the nomination in the face of bipartisan opposition prompted by Sledd's refusal to give up paid outside corporate directorships.
Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) told the Washington Post that McDonnell's claim was "absolutely stunning and, frankly, beyond belief."McDonnell also nominated
On January 27, 2010, McDonnell delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address. The response was delivered to GOP lawmakers and invited friends in the chamber of the Virginia House of Delegates. Critics have argued that the use of House chamber for McDonnell's speech did not comply with House Rule 82.
Since McDonnell's election as Governor in November 2009, he has shifted his fundraising activities to his "Opportunity Virginia PAC" which has raised $1,194,934 through June 2010. Many of these donations came from industries regulated by the state.
In April 2010, McDonnell renegotiated and extended a contract for outsourcing the state's computer operations to Northrop Grumman.
At that time, McDonnell proposed legislation which was adopted to have the Virginia Information Technologies Agency report to the Governor instead of an independent board. Subsequently, McDonnell was criticized when the Northrup computer systems experienced a week-long computer outage from August 25 through September 2, 2010. As a result, as many as 45,000 citizens could not renew their drivers licenses prior to their expiration. Computer systems for 26 of the state's 89 agencies were affected. An estimated 4,240 driver's license and ID card applicants have been asked to return to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get their photos taken again after an Aug. 25 computer outage left their original photos unrecoverable. The system also experienced an unrelated outage on August 9. Subsequently, Northrop Grumman agreed to pay $250,000 to fund a state investigation of the computer outage.
The 2010 session of the General Assembly passed a bill exempting certain veterans' organizations from the registration and reporting requirements that apply to most charities which solicit donations in Virginia. The bill was introduced at the request of Bobby Thompson, who was director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and who has made large contributions to certain Republican candidates.After the bill passed both the House and Senate, newspaper accounts of that charity's questionable practices caused a sponsor of the bill to request McDonnell to veto it, however the governor signed the bill into law notwithstanding those requests. As a result, the organization, which is under investigation in New Mexico (which barred the USNVA before the Virginia bill was signed), Florida and Missouri, as well as other non profit veterans' organizations will not have to report to Virginia on how they spend the donations that they receive. However, McDonnell later donated to charity the $5,000 campaign contribution that he had received from Thompson. In August 2010, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced that a nation-wide arrest warrant had issued for Bobby Thompson, who had stolen the identity and Social Security Number of a victim who was not connected to the USNVA. Corday stated, “We know he bilked Ohioans out of at least $1.9 million, and we estimate that nationally he collected at least $20 million.”
On November 23, 2010, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee released a report which found that the McDonnell proposal had overstated the expected proceeds of liquor store sales and licenses. In response, McDonnell's spokeman said that he is committed to privatization and is considering alternative plans. McDonnell has hired a consultant to formulate a new privatization plan at a cost of $75,000 prior to the new legislative session in January 2011. The Auditors found that McDonnell's proposal would rise the retail price of distilled spirits 11 to 26 percent, which in turn would lead to a drop in liquor sales that could result in a loss of as much as $15.4 million in sales tax revenues.