Cuccinelli Stands With the Tim Kaine and Democrats on Capital Punishment and the Triggerman Rule
I first blogged about this back in January - Brownlee & Cuccinelli - Capital Punishment. I said then this would be a huge issue and it is becoming one. Cuccinelli issued a statement, see Mason Conservative, complaining that his record is being held up to him. Brownlee has issued the following statement - Emphasis mine.
As John Brownlee has travelled across our Commonwealth, he has been very clear that he believes in Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: "Thou shall speak no ill of a fellow Republican." The Brownlee campaign for Attorney General highlights the strengths of our outstanding candidate and focuses on the issues that are important to Virginia voters.
We also believe it is important to respectfully and factually inform our fellow Republicans about genuine issue disagreements among the candidates, and especially about issues that will affect our chances to succeed in November. One such issue occurred on January 27, when Senator Ken Cuccinelli once again voted against repeal of the "Triggerman Rule."
The Triggerman Rule is an anti-justice rule, and its repeal has been called necessary "...for prosecutors in the commonwealth to bring co-conspirators in murder cases to justice." The Triggerman Rule prevents prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against an accomplice to a violent murder - even though the accomplice has the same intent as the person who pulled the trigger and may be more criminally responsible for the killing. The Triggerman Rule complicated Virginia's effort to try Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad on a capital offense because it was in dispute whether he or his juvenile accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, fired the Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle during their 2002 killing spree. Muhammad was the mastermind of a plot who murdered ten people and critically wounded three others in Northern Virginia and along Interstate 95 in Virginia. Because of the Triggerman Rule, prosecutors were forced to use our terrorism statutes to bring Muhammad to justice.
In response to the Sniper case, Republicans in the Virginia House and Senate, as well as a few right-minded Democrats, voted in 2007 to abolish the Triggerman Rule. The Virginia Sheriffs Association, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, Virginia's Crime Commission, the Attorney General's Office, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling all supported repeal of the Triggerman Rule. They know that this rule is a detriment to the cause of justice in Virginia. Despite this overwhelming support for its repeal, Cuccinelli voted against the bill.
Unfortunately, Gov. Kaine vetoed the bill. Gov. Kaine is opposed to the death penalty. Nevertheless, the Republicans attempted to override the veto and every Republican in the House and Senate but Sen. Cuccinelli voted to override the veto. A majority of the Democrats and Cuccinelli prevailed, and the Triggerman Rule remains the law in Virginia.
The most troubling aspect of this case is Sen. Cuccinelli's comments after his vote. A Washington Post reporter asked Sen. Cuccinelli why he voted against all other Republicans and with the Democrats on this important criminal justice bill. Cuccinelli responded, "We're killing enough people in Virginia." Cuccinelli's comment in the media gives the appearance of equating murder - the killing of the innocent - to the legal application of the death penalty. John Brownlee would never suggest such a moral equivalency.
How far outside the mainstream is Cuccinelli on this issue? Consider the following, as reported by the Washington Post's Marc Fisher: "Interestingly, all four of Virginia's gubernatorial candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, this year not only favor the death penalty, but would approve its expansion. Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrats Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds favor expanding capital punishment by scrapping the triggerman rule; Democrat Terry McAuliffe would "not oppose" such a move, according to his spokesman."
Cuccinelli has been consistent over the years in his opposition to this important bill. Both in committee and on the floor of the Senate, Senator Cuccinelli has been the sole Republican vote against the measure. He has opposed this bill every time it has come forward, and even voted to sustain Governor Tim Kaine's veto of the measure.
We sincerely believe that Cuccinelli, a patent lawyer, is a talented and capable attorney who will deserve the support of all Republicans should he win the nomination for Attorney General. However, Democrat Steve Shannon - his party's almost certain nominee for Attorney General -- is a former prosecutor. Shannon also stands with law enforcement - and most of our fellow Republicans - on the triggerman issue. Against a Republican nominee who - alone among Republican legislators -- agrees with Tim Kaine on this death penalty vote, Steve Shannon is well-positioned to cross-pressure our base, as well as law enforcement and independent voters who care about criminal justice issues. This is simply a fact that Republicans must take into account as they choose their nominee for Attorney General.
As you have undoubtedly heard us say before, the voters of Virginia vote for prosecutors for their Attorney General. Mary Sue Terry, Jim Gilmore, Jerry Kilgore and Bob McDonnell all had prosecutorial experience. Every time during the last 25 years that a prosecutor has faced a non-prosecutor for Attorney General, the prosecutor has won. John Brownlee is the only prosecutor running for the Republican nomination.
Please take a look at some of the following links. We believe you will agree that this is a real and relevant difference between the campaigns, and we hope you will take it into consideration as you decide who to support for our Party's nomination:
Here is the story from Brownlee himself.
The bottom line here is - The Virginia Sheriffs Association, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, Virginia's Crime Commission, the Attorney General's Office, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling all supported repeal of the Triggerman Rule. Ken Cuccinelli stood with Tim Kaine and the democrats. I find it amusing Ken left that part out of his statement.