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Does Virginia's Attorney General Still Want to Limit Our Rights to a Trial by Jury?

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Today I saw the announcement that Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell will begin to regularly appear on a popular conservative website so that web surfers can blog with him on a weekly basis. In going to the site, they catagorize this announcement as “straight talk from the internet’s first elected blogger”.

My relationship with Attorney General McDonnell goes back to 1991 when he first ran for the house of delegates. Republican activist and Virginia Beach attorney, Gary Byler calls me Bob’s first campaign contributor. Throughout the years, I have maintained some contact with him but have become increasingly disappointed with his desire to limit a victim’s to the right to trial by jury.

A search of contributors to his attorney general’s campaign shows that he and two other delegates originally formed a political action committee called Virginia Conservative’s Action PAC. According to VPAP.org, in May of 2005, the American Tort Reform PAC contributed $260,000.00 to Mr. McDonnell’s conservative PAC. By their own admission, the American Tort Reform PAC was formed to limit jury awards on personal injury awards and product liability claims and to place limits and restrictions on class actions and punitive damages.

After the Virginia Conservative Action PAC received this $260,000.00 from the American Tort Reform Association, it then funneled this money in May and June 2005 to the Attorney General’s race by contributing $252,609.00 to Bob McDonnell’s campaign. Apparently, he did not want it to show as directly coming from the American Tort Reform Association.

Delegate McDonnell contacted me during his political campaign for Attorney General. He knew that I had previously been a donor and requested that I assist in his current campaign. At that time, I was unaware of this veiled contribution by the American Tort Reform PAC. However, I did know of the various bills that he introduced that, in my opinion, specifically were an attempt to limit the rights of injured victims. At that time, I told him that I viewed him as an enemy to the rights of ordinary people.

Recently, Attorney General Bob McDonnell issued a statement as a reaction to Governor Kaine’s State of the Commonwealth Address. In that, he stated that the “Office of the Attorney General will make its decisions based on the role of law, and a strong and abiding belief in free individuals and free markets”. In light of the large contribution by the American Tort Reform PAC as well as some of the bills that he has introduced in the legislature, it is hard to match up this statement with his emphasis to protect corporate accountability and limit rights of recovery. His weekly blog should hold some interesting future revelations. Hopefully we will now let free individuals and free markets deliver accountability.