Once in a great while, Delegate Bob Purkey (R-Virginia Beach) allows the public a bit more familiarity with his idiosyncrasies. Yesterday, apparently angry over an article in the local newspaper, he was inspired to make a rare appearance and lash out. In an often incoherent broadside, he revealed much.
The article in the morning’s Virginian-Pilot reported that legislation brought by Purkey “would have extended the waiting period before former government officials and employees could lobby their old colleagues…would have added state executive agencies and local governments to those bodies deemed off-limits.” Purkey objected that the purpose wasn’t reported as “to make sure that cabinet level secretaries can not come back and lobby the next day as they still can by law.” Maybe he’ll be happier with this report.
Purkey described meeting with the reporter who said he had heard scuttlebutt about the reason the bill was put in. “I said the reason you prostitutes…pardon my grammar, I try to avoid the press every time I can. I think they are the worst…now there are a few decent reporters…a few you can trust, but most of them you can’t trust because they have changed their role. They used to report the news, now they interpret the news. They think that you all are pretty dumb, that we can’t give you the facts; they have to pre-chew your food, then digest it, and regurgitate it for you.” Purkey said, never getting to his point for the reporter.
Several years ago, he told the crowd, he started introducing campaign reform bills. He complained that the “Virginian-Pilot in its normal fashion, did not report the primary purpose” of the bill he introduced. Then striking off in another direction, he explained that when he was first elected, the Democrats did not allow party identification on the ballot. Directing his attention to the high school students in the room, he ordered, “You young people pay attention now, because this is the way it used to be.” So, he introduced the bill to change this which only passed on a 50-49 vote, he claimed, because he convinced a Democrat to absent himself to the bathroom during the vote. Recovering from this tangent, he told of discovering that member after member was raising large sums of money and that once a year the account was empty because they could write themselves a check, pay taxes on it, and it was theirs. As a result, he carried a bill that would prohibit the conversion of campaign funds to personal use and went to Governor Wilder who he said agreed with him. He claimed that the next year, every one of the bills he put in was killed.
You know, when we were elected to take control of the General Assembly, we didn’t have a majority.
Describing the process in the Senate, he said that his bill got over to the Senate Rules Committee and only one Republican was present but all the Democrats were there. The other Republicans were in other places hearing other committees, he said. As presented, he said, it was explained what the primary purpose was and, “oh, by the way, I’d like to extend the period of time that legislators must wait from one year to two.” He then went on to explain that he had another “little” bill that he took over that would prohibit the funneling of campaign funds to family members. In the Senate, he said he heard, naming no source in particular, that they liked the situation just the way it is. He said one Senator challenged him asking “You mean to tell me that I can’t have my wife and my son on my campaign account?” Purkey claims that when he explained that it was the perception that was wrong, the Senator responded, “I don’t see a thing wrong with it.”
“One committee member, Senator Frederick Quayle (R-Suffolk) said later that he felt the current system works fine.” – as reported by the Virginian-Pilot
But he insinuated that he told the committee that they had the votes to kill it if they wanted and left the comment hanging as though the Democrats voted against the bill to kill it. Actually, no committee members spoke against it, it just died motionless. Purkey could not even persuade a member of his own party to bring it up.
The position of Secretary of Transportation came up over and over again. Possibly his ire was directed at former delegate Terrie Suit, a Republican turned lobbyist. Hard to tell. But he did reserve a little time to attack the stimulus “mess” that is coming out of Washington. “You’ve got to tell me why 150 million dollars for sex education is stimulus.” And, going on to charge that it is the hypocrisy of the Democrats who have complained about transportation who will not use the stimulus bill to fix the problem. That, he told the audience, is why he is running for re-election. “We are at a pivotal point in our country’s history.”
“Lobbyists are absolutely essential. We cannot have in-depth information of every subject over which we have to really review. When you have lobbyists, you have them representing both sides. They come, they really give you the information on both sides of the issue and you are reasonably bright and you can decipher the information and understand it. But the one group that has not been honest in the whole process has been the press.”
Cross posted at VBDems - Blogging our way to Democratic wins in Virginia Beach!