Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is frequently, and unhappily, surprised by the lengths to which the state’s general assembly will go to prevent Medicaid expansion. Their most recent ploy was to pass their budget with a provision that explicitly prohibited McAuliffe from using his executive powers to expand Medicaid. Then they broke into his office suite while he wasn’t there, specifically to deliver the budget, possibly because they thought it’d give him less time to consider it and use his line-item veto powers.
House Speaker William Howell (R) had the clerk’s office get help from the Capitol Police to get into McAuliffe’s empty and secure office suite on June 15 to deliver the budget. The Virginia State Police, which is responsible for McAuliffe’s security, didn’t know that they’d broken in, and neither did anybody in the administration. There wasn’t standing permission to do this, either.
The State Police fired off a letter of anger to Speaker Howell, as well as the co-chairman of the state’s Senate Finance Committee, Walter Stosch; the chief of the Capitol Police, Anthony Pike, and the superintendent of the Virginia State Police. That letter said, in part:
“This letter is to inform you that under no circumstances are you or any of your officers authorized to allow employees of the General Assembly to enter the secure areas of the governor’s office without my express permission, or the express permission of Suzette Denslow, the governor’s deputy chief of staff.
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.”
Are Republicans so desperate to stop the success of Obamacare that they would really stoop this low to try and prevent McAuliffe from expanding Medicaid? It would seem so, because there’s every reason to believe that this is everything that it looks like, which is a break-in. Since the governor has seven days to read and sign the budget, from the time it’s delivered and not from the time it’s received, there’s no other way to interpret this than they were trying to trap him. Doing this above board would have given McAuliffe more time. It looks like they wanted him to rush, so he wouldn’t see the provision preventing him from expanding Medicaid, and thus, would not veto it (he vetoed it anyway).
The Capitol Police chief said that he didn’t see this as irregular, or as a breach of security. He also said that he’s never been asked to do anything like this before.
This is low, even for Republicans. Even though it’s a time-sensitive document, if they know the governor’s not there then they know he’s not going to look at it anyway. So that leaves one to deduce that their motive wasn’t simple expedience, but something far more sinister.