McEachin, Herring Highlight Cuccinelli’s Real Record on Restoration of Rights

5/28/2013

 

Today Virginia Senator Donald McEachin and DPVA Chair Charniele Herring held a media conference call to discuss how Ken Cuccinelli’s recent rhetoric does not match his record of extreme and incendiary opposition to restoring nonviolent felons’ civil rights after they have paid their debt to society.

 

“Like many other legislators, I fought alongside Senator Yvonne Miller for years on automatic restoration of rights legislation while Ken Cuccinelli and his extreme allies opposed us,” said Senator McEachin.

 

“Now, it has become convenient for him to suddenly do an about face on this issue. But to the Virginians who made a mistake, served their time, are productive citizens of the Commonwealth, but wait amidst a sea of red tape for their government to declare them full citizens again, this issue is personal, and should not be a matter of political expediency.”

 

Delegate Herring continued, “If Ken Cuccinelli really believed in automatic restoration of rights for people who pay their debt to society, he had every opportunity to prove it with his vote.

 

“Instead he and his extreme allies stood in the way and blocked efforts by Senator Yvonne Miller, Senator McEachin and many others to pass a constitutional amendment that would have made Ken Cuccinelli’s announcement today unnecessary.

 

“The Virginians who have been waiting for years while Ken Cuccinelli and his extreme allies stood in the way of efforts to restore their voting rights deserve better than a Governor who only does the right thing in an election year.”

 

As the background below demonstrates, despite his recent rhetoric, Cuccinelli voted against automatic restoration of rights legislation in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009. In a 2008 “Cuccinelli Compass” he attacked Governor Kaine for “granting felons the right to vote at a record pace,” saying Democrats trying to accomplish a goal he now says he supports “view criminals as a voting bloc.” 

 

Background:

 

2003: Cuccinelli Voted Against Constitutional Amendment Resolution Restoring Civil Rights For Nonviolent Felons

In January 2003, State Senator Yvonne Miller (D – 5) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 283 summarized as, “Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by law for the restoration of civil rights for persons who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies and who meet such other conditions or limitations as may be prescribed by law.” Cuccinelli voted against agreeing to SJ 283 in the Senate.  Resolution passed the Senate by 34-Y, 6-N.  [Virginia Legislative Information System, SJ 2832/4/03]

2004: Cuccinelli Voted Against Constitutional Amendment Resolution Restoring Civil Rights For Nonviolent Felons

In January 2004, State Senator Yvonne Miller (D – 5) presented Senate Bill 17 summarized as, “Constitutional amendment (voter referendum); restoration of civil rights for certain felons. Provides for a referendum at the November 2004 election on approval of an amendment to revise provisions concerning restoration of civil rights. The amendment authorizes the General Assembly to provide by general law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies who meet the conditions prescribed by law. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The measure retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds the alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to general law for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies. This bill is identical to HB 1104. See also SJ 4, companion resolution. Cuccinelli voted against SB 17 in the Senate.  Bill passed by 28-Y, 10-N.  [Virginia Legislative Information System, SB 171/26/04]

2004: Cuccinelli Voted Against Restoration Of Voting Rights For Felons With Marijuana Convictions

In January 2004, State Senator Linda Puller (D – 36) introduced Senate Bill 82 summarized as, “Restoration of right to vote. Provides that a person convicted of a felony for the distribution of marijuana or possession with the intent to distribute marijuana where the amount of marijuana was five pounds or less, who completed his sentence at least 10 years previously and has no other criminal convictions can petition for restoration of his civil right to be eligible to vote. The existing Code requirement of the demonstration of civic responsibility through community or comparable service will apply. In addition, the applicant must go through the procedure established by the Governor, who will determine whether to grant the petition. Cuccinelli voted against SB 82 in the Senate.  Bill passed Senate by 35-Y, 5-N.  [Virginia Legislative Information System, SB 822/6/04]

2005: Cuccinelli Voted Against Constitutional Amendment Resolution Restoring Civil Rights For Nonviolent Felons

In January 2005, State Senator Yvonne Miller (D – 5) presented Senate Bill 259 summarized as, “Constitutional amendment (first resolution); restoration of civil rights for certain felons. Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by general law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies who meet the conditions prescribed by law. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The amendment retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds the alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to general law for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies. Cuccinelli voted against SB 259 in Senate.  Bill passed Senate 26-Y, 14-N.  [Virginia Legislative Information System, SB 2592/8/05]

2007: Cuccinelli Opposed Constitutional Amendment Resolution Restoring Civil Rights for Nonviolent Felons

In January 2007, Cuccinelli opposed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Miller SJ 307 summarized as, “Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by general law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies who have completed service of their sentence including any period or condition of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The amendment retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds the alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to general law.” The bill passed the Senate 29-10. [Virginia Legislative Information System, SJ 307, Vote on 1/25/07]  

2008: Cuccinelli Mocked “Jailbird Registration,” Called Registering Nonviolent Felons “Ominous”

 

In an October 2008 edition of his Cuccinelli Compass, Cuccinelli wrote, “Well, in addition to our esteamed (yes, I know I spelled it wrong) Governor granting felons the right to vote at a record pace, here in Fairfax County our Democrat-run registrar’s office went over to the local jail to register everyone there that they could last week, and they also pushed absentee voting among the lawless voters who hadn’t yet been convicted of a felony…Even the Democrat Sheriff here said that he had never seen anything like it in his 30 years of service… click on the link to read about jailbird registration in Fairfax County. So, this is what they think they need to do to win?  And these are their voters?  What does that tell you? Don’t forget the voter registration fraud by the Obama-associated groups in SE Va.  And a headline in the Washington Times today: “Voter-fraud task force raids Nevada office backing Obama.” This is ominous folks…” [Cuccinelli Compass,10/8/08]

 

2008: Cuccinelli Criticized Democrats For Trying “To Register As Many Criminals As Possible,” Said Effort Was “Actually Worse than Just the Governor’s Effort to Give Felons Voting Rights Again”

 

In an October edition of his Cuccinelli Compass, Cuccinelli wrote, “The other side sees criminals as a voting bloc that would be favorable to them, so they bent precedents to register as many criminals as possible before the Monday deadline.  Here in Fairfax, it’s actually worse than just the Governor’s effort to give felons voting rights again…” [Cuccinelli Compass, 10/8/08]

 

2009: Cuccinelli Opposed Constitutional Amendment Resolution Restoring Civil Rights for Nonviolent Felons

 

In February 2009, Cuccinelli opposed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Miller SJ 273 summarized as, “Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies who have completed service of their sentences subject to the conditions, requirements, and definitions set forth in that law. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The amendment retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds the alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to law.” The bill passed the Senate 27-13. [Virginia Legislative Information System, SJ 273, Vote on 2/9/09]

 

2010: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Called on AG Cuccinelli to Act on Restoring Voting Rights to Nonviolent Felons—Cuccinelli Did Not Respond 

 

In April 2010, TendersInfo reported, “The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has written a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to ask why Virginia has not obtained preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act to implement changes to the state's process to allow felons to get their voting rights restored…Robert Kengle, acting director of the committee's voting rights project, said the committee has not received a response. The attorney general's office did respond to a request for comment.” [TendersInfo, 4/24/10]