Updated: Oct. 3, 2014, 11:30 AM
The top aide to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) floated a job for the daughter of a now-resigned Democratic lawmaker if he had stuck around to support the Medicaid expansion, the Washington Post reported on Thursday night.
In a remarkable twist to a corruption drama that unfolded in June, McAuliffe’s chief of staff Paul Reagan had left State Sen. Phillip Puckett (D) a voice message saying the governor’s office “would be very eager to accommodate” his daughter in a government post if he would remain in the legislature and “help us get this Medicaid deal through.”
Per the Post, Reagan said in the message: “I know there was a lot of frustration with your daughter, not, you know, getting a judgeship or something. If there’s something that we can do for her, I mean, you know, we have a couple of big agencies here that we still need agency heads. We could potentially, potentially, subject to approval of the governor and so forth, you know, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy could be available.”
McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy didn’t dispute the transcript of the message, but indicated that no formal offer was made. He told TPM that Reagan had acted on his own. The governor “did not know or make any such orders. He found out about this all at about 5pm today after the Post called the office,” Coy said in an email.
Puckett ended up resigning abruptly, giving Republicans control of the state senate, and thereby quashing the Medicaid expansion, as is optional for states under Obamacare. In June, he came under fire after it was reported that he was in talks with Republican officials about securing a job for himself and a judgeship for his daughter in exchange for the resignation. He subsequently took himself out of the running for that job.
The new message indicates that McAuliffe’s office had tried — and apparently failed — to keep Puckett in the legislature in order to fight to expand Medicaid.
Coy defended Reagan’s move, saying it was nothing like what the Republicans did to try to lure Puckett out of the Senate. “Any comparison between Mr. Reagan’s concern for the political treatment that Mr. Puckett and his family were receiving and the recent scandals,” he said, “are wholly without merit.”
Update: In a statement released Friday morning, Reagan expressed regret for his actions.
“In the fight to expand health care to uninsured Virginians, I was overzealous and acted with poor judgment. I certainly regret this and will always try to achieve the high standards demanded by Governor McAuliffe,” he said.