A top aide to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) allegedly suggested state jobs for a key state senator's daughter if the lawmaker agreed to stay in office and support the governor’s plan to expand Medicaid, The Washington Post reported Thursday evening.
State Sen. Phillip Puckett (D) eventually resigned from the legislature in June, giving Republicans a majority and allowing the GOP to block McAuliffe’s planned Medicaid expansion. The FBI is investigating whether Puckett's resignation was part of a quid-pro-quo with Republicans that gave him a position on the state’s tobacco commission and his daughter a judgeship.
Democrats also appear to have tried wooing Puckett. In the days before the senator quit, McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan, left Puckett a voicemail describing possible appointments for his daughter, who, according to an understanding in the state Senate, couldn't be appointed to a judgeship while her father was in office, the Post reported.
“We would be very eager to accommodate her, if, if that would be helpful in keeping you in the Senate. We, we would basically do anything,” Reagan reportedly said. “We just need you really, we need you for the rest of your term and beyond, but in the immediate future, we need you to help us get this Medicaid deal through and I think we’ve got a way to do it.”
Reagan did not deny leaving the voicemail, the Post reported. A spokesperson for the governor told the paper a position was never formally offered.
After Puckett resigned in June, McAuliffe said that he would bypass the Republican-controlled Senate and expand Medicaid to 400,000 uninsured Virginia residents anyway. Last month, he unveiled a plan to cover a more modest 25,000 residents.