GOLDMAN: Bloomberg’s anti-Cuccinelli ad ‘unfair, illegal, insulting’

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. – Fair is fair and unfair is unfair, no matter your status.

What does New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have against Virginia? Why does the billionaire have such a low opinion of Virginians?

So he might feel more at home with this piece, let me say what my mom, born in Brooklyn would have said to him [she passed away in Henrico a few years ago, the latest time I have actually cried and still do just thinking about it]:

“So, Mr. Mayor, you think we are chopped liver down here or something?” Evidently Mr. Bloomberg does.

That’s a lot of chutzpah, really Bloomie.

But before I analyze his hugely funded TV ad that unfairly and possibly illegally attacks Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli, today’s vicious personal climate requires a sensible person to protect himself.

First, NO ONE as in NO ONE, has been more dismissive of the competence of Mr. Cuccinelli’s campaign than yours truly.

I wrote back in November of 2012 that he might very well be unelectable for reasons detailed in a published column.

As recently as last month, in the Washington Post and also in an OP-ED for the leading Republican national website, I was the first columnist who has actually ever run a winning statewide campaign or led a statewide political party to show the fundamental problems with Cuccinelli’s campaign effort.

But I didn’t do this as a partisan, indeed I think Mr. Cuccinelli will concede that earlier this year, I helped convince him to work on a bipartisan basis to reform our voting rights laws giving Virginians new political rights, and making it easier for their favorite candidate to get on the ballot.

The effort produced four new laws.

The point being, I call it like I see it in writing, trying – not always succeeding but trying – to be fair, to make a positive contribution to moving our state forward.

In that regard, the anti-Cuccinelli TV ad funded by Wall Street tycoon Michael Bloomberg doesn’t help our state one bit. Indeed Mr. Bloomberg could care less about Virginia as he has shown previously in his efforts to mock our laws as regards the so-called “gun” issue in Virginia politics.

Governor McDonnell has been forced to call out Mr. Bloomberg for his seeming obsession with attacking Virginia.

Is it an obsession?

I know what he is doing.

In New York, attacking a Southern state still resonates in the local politics. They still see Virginia as backward, racist. Never mind, of course, that New York City was the last biggest holdout AGAINST THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, also the biggest Northern supporter of the Confederacy [this is one reason Spielberg's Lincoln uses a former Mayor of New York City as the foil in the Congressional debates, since as Mayor, Congressman Wood had tried to get the city to secede from the Union!].

That’s right Bloomie: North, South, East, West, our history is complex and conflicting, anywhere you look, there are ups and downs for those in power

Few saints big guy.

And by the way, when I came to Virginia to help Doug Wilder, leaving my office down in Wall Street, you didn’t help us.

So to the extent Virginia has progressed – and it has – some us don’t really have to be impressed by you at all on that score, we have the sweat equity to prove it. You chose to make money, more power to you. But we ain’t chopped liver bro.

BUT YES, I get that Mr. Bloomberg doesn’t much care for Virginia’s “gun” laws, thinking they are way too lax.

I helped elect the only Governor in modern times able to get a major change to the state’s gun laws, the one-gun-a-month law enacted, now repealed by the Republican Party. Don’t think Bloomberg helped us on that one either.

Admittedly, at the time, New Yorkers had a beef, Virginia was the gun-running stop up the East Coast with a lot of the illegal weapons winding up in the hands of criminal in the Big Apple. I get that. Governor Wilder put an end to that with the help of then federal prosecutor Richard Cullen, now the head dude at McGuireWoods law firm.

Still, I get it, NYC residents felt we in Virginia had been too lax and they suffered. That was a bad rap but I can understand the emotion, the Big Apple was a shooting gallery back then.

But whatever your grievance, whatever your astounding bank account [supposedly Bloomberg is worth $30 billion which is a lot of money even to me!] this is a separate matter from what I write about today, which is, basic fairness in a political campaign for Governor BECAUSE IT MATTERS AFTER THE ELECTION, since you don’t want the winner to be tainted by the process.

Bloomberg doesn’t live in Virginia.

Whatever taint he leaves behind is not his concern in the sense it is not something he will have to live with.

Do I think Bloomberg’s unfair and possibly illegal ad will cost Cuccinelli the election? No, I do not.

Cuccinelli did that all to himself with help from an understated Terry McAuliffe and a very smart campaign team.

BUT AGAIN, THIS IS NOT THE ISSUE.

Simply put, the Bloomberg ad does not pass the “smell test.”

The Washington Post ad reviewer called it “misleading” and gave it a 3 on his 5 point “Liar” scale. So yes, it isn’t a 5, but to get a 3, that’s bad, it’s more than half way toward the proverbial “liar, liar, pants on fire” type of rating.

Even if it were only a 1, the issue is, why should it have any such problems at all? What’s wrong with just the facts?

The Post guy – he does great work – complains mostly over the advertisement using provocative and polarizing images of some of the most infamous and despised mass murders in history, including the Virginia Tech killer, in order to make the viewer think Cuccinelli voted against a “loophole” in the law that would have stopped those heinous crimes.

NOT!

When the Post “called out” the Bloomberg folks on this fact, they issued what was known in the Nixon days as a “non-denial denial”, responding in a way that doesn’t actually address the question but leaves the impression of denying it.

Really Bloomie, is that the best money can buy?

My analysis of the ad’s problems goes even further.

First, the sourcing of the key charge – that Cuccinelli opposed closing the “gun show loophole” – is incorrect.

The proper citation should have been to the recorded vote on the bill killed in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on January 23, 2008 by a vote of 6 Y – 9 N.

You don’t cite a newspaper report on a vote, that is not the right source, it is only secondary.

You are supposed to cite the actual vote if there is one.

But that is just a technical matter, since the basic point of substance is correct. Cuccinelli voted against Senator Marsh’s bill on the “gun show loophole.”

It needs to be noted, however, that even Marsh’s bill doesn’t do what the ad claims, prevent someone from buying a weapon from a non-licensed dealer without a background check.

NOT!

There is a loophole in Marsh’s loophole “closing” bill if you read it closely.

It would have continued to allow what Bloomie says would have been stopped. Granted, the loophole remaining would have been small, but it could have been used to get around the Marsh law if the measure had been enacted.

Then we have the issue of whether the Bloomie ad violates Virginia law.

Again, I recognize Bloomberg doesn’t much care for our laws.

Sorry Mr. Mayor, down in Virginia, we kinda think our laws are sorta equal to yours in that regard.

Virginia Code Section $24.2–957.2 is intended to cover the kind of political advertisement being run by Mr. Bloomberg’s folks.

As I read the plain meaning of subclause (2) and (7) of this Code Section, the Bloomberg ad is in violation of our laws.

This statute requires a specific type of disclaimer in such attack ads be delivered by the individual with the specific title named in the law and that a photograph of said person or said person himself/herself be visible on the screen at the same time. The Bloomie ad doesn’t meet those legal requirements. So either the law doesn’t apply, or the AD violates the law. Bottom line: Whether illegal or not, it violates the spirit of Virginia law, it is unfair as even the biggest Virginia newspaper most opposed to Cuccinelli concedes and it cannot possibly serve to be useful to taint the election process.

Mr. Mayor, tell your people to take it down, and put up a fair ad, properly documented, and in keeping at least with what we want here in Virginia.

There is no way Cuccinelli can possibly respond to your wealth backing this ad. Tomorrow, I will discuss the NRA ad against Democrat attorney general candidate Mark Herring. Can any of these groups do it right?

Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.



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