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Patrick McSweeney


Patrick M. McSweeney was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1968 and practices in the City of Richmond. 


He received his undergraduate education from the University of Virginia and his law degree in 1968 from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, where he was editor-in-chief of the University of Richmond Law Review.


After serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Albert V. Bryan, Sr., Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Mr. McSweeney served as an associate with Mays, Valentine, Davenport & Moore in Richmond.


He served in a variety of positions at the United States Department of Justice from 1971 to 1973 where he rose to the position of Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legislative Affairs. From 1974 to 1977, Mr. McSweeney was the executive director of the Virginia Commission on State Governmental Management, which proposed and successfully implemented a sweeping reorganization of state government. He also served as counsel to the Governor's Management Study from 1970 to 1972 and as staff attorney to the Taxation and Finance Committee of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision in 1968.


In 1990, Mr. McSweeney and the late Roy Smith jointly directed a successful campaign to defeat the proposed pledge bond amendments to the Virginia Constitution. He was also actively involved in the successful 1998 campaign to defeat two proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution that would have made it easier for localities to incur debt without voter approval.


In 1977, he founded the predecessor of his present firm, McSweeney & Crump, P.C. Mr. McSweeney is engaged primarily in the practice of civil litigation.


He publishes a weekly column on politics in The Daily Press.





April 21: A Response to Norman Leahy. Our call for an alternative transportation policy is indeed "conservative" -- organized around free markets, an aversion to subsidies and devolution of government power to the local level.


- 2007 -


February 5: Down the Wrong Road. The GOP transportation plan would employ "subject-to-appropriation" bonds similar to the "pledge" bonds that voters rejected in 1990. Very bad idea.


- 2006 -


August 28: Someone Has to Pay. Virginia's transportation system needs more money, but not all fund-raising schemes are created equal. Some perpetuate the status quo while others encourage innovation.


July 24: Break the Tax-and-Spend Cycle. Many politicians, and the reporters who cover them, regard bloating state budgets as inevitable. But that's true only if voters settle for the same-old, same-old.


June 26: A New Political Laboratory. The days are gone when Virginia politics were of local interest only. Campaign themes and strategies in the Old Dominion are increasingly visible on the national state.


June 26: It's Never Enough. Even the next two-year budget, at $74 billion, isn't big enough to satisfy some legislators. Spending discipline isn't likely to be restored as long as Republicans are divided.


June 12: The Politics of Seeming to Care

American politicians pander to the populace, telling them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. In this year's transportation debt, Virginia's lawmakers are no exception.


June 12: Let's Have a Televised Debate

We can't trust the media to fairly characterize the transportation debate. The best alternative may be a three-way debate between the major contenders.


May 30: Time for Genuine Leadership. Raising taxes is not a serious transportation policy -- it's a substitute for the creative thinking that the General Assembly desperately needs to engage in.


May 15: Shades of Francis Nicholson. Like the power-hungry royal governor of old, Gov. Tim Kaine seems willing to misuse the powers of his office. But his budget brinksmanship could backfire. 


May 15: Another Grandiose Plan. Apparently, $120 million to renovate the state Capitol complex is not enough. The state Senate wants to spend another $400 million.


May 1: "I Don't Give a Rip". Editorial pundits are blaming Bill Howell for Virginia's budget impasse. But John Chichester is the one who's repeatedly used the threat of a government shut down to get his way.


May 1: Discord in the Axis of Taxes. Tim Kaine has split with the state Senate over increasing the gas tax. That gives the House of Delegates a chance to seize the initiative in the taxes-and-transportation debate.


April 17: Howell Gets Feisty. One reason the House of Delegates is holding firm in the budget debate this year is that House Speaker Bill Howell is more assertive, even combative, than ever before.


April 17: Kaine Reneges Again. Tim Kaine has broken three important promises in a mere three months: First transportation taxes, then land use reform, and now the marriage amendment.


April 3: Democracy as National Religion. Contemporary Americans worship democracy and majority rule. They forget that the United States also is a republic, which imposes checks and balances against the tyranny of the mob. 


April 3: Where Have I Heard This Before? Tim Kaine says his $1 billion tax increase will help relieve traffic congestion. Sounds uncannily similar to claims made in 1986.


March 20: Promises Made, Promises Broken. Gov. Kaine and his allies are willing to do anything to push tax increases through the General Assembly -- even if it means eroding the integrity of the governing process.


March 20: A Sound Opinion. General Bob McDonnell was right: Tim Kaine did exceed his authority when conferring protected status upon sexual orientation throughout state government.


February 27: Legislation by Extortion. The state Senate is enacting spending programs predicated on taxes that haven't been passed yet. Will Chichester & Co. get their way again by threatening another government shut-down? 


February 27: Standing up for Property Rights. The House of Delegates has passed legislation that will protect property owners from unjust takings. Unfortunately, the Senate's version of the bill could do more harm than good.


February 13: Another Legislative Impasse? The usual suspects are pushing hard for another tax increase this year, but their position is weaker than it was two years ago.


January 30: Kaine's Plan Doesn't Cut It. Tim Kaine's transportation plan will cost more money - but it won't work.


January 30: Rethinking Education Policy. The problem with Virginia schools isn't a lack of money -- it's the rigid, bureaucratic policies that dictate how the money is being spent. 


January 16: Building Not the Only Solution. State-funded highway and rail projects are not the only ways to address traffic congestion in Virginia. It's time to tap the creativity of the private sector.


January 16: Rethinking Education Policy. The problem with Virginia schools isn't a lack of money -- it's the rigid, bureaucratic policies that dictate how the money is being spent.


January 16: Judging Mark Warner. Mark Warner left office with many positive accomplishments, as reflected in his popularity ratings. But let us not forget, he also violated campaign pledges and the state Constitution.


January 3: Caught Between Extremes. Developers and environmental activists have one thing in common: a willingness to use government power to affect land use. Consumers are the losers.


January 3: A Pricing Approach to Growth. Growth in Virginia is inevitable but sprawl is not. The key is not more government control but less -- in particular, an end to transportation subsidies. 


- 2005 -


December 12: At Last, a Debate on Sprawl. Inefficient patterns of development contribute to pollution, traffic congestion and local fiscal stress. With the election of Tim Kaine, suburban sprawl has finally become a statewide issue.


December 12: A Better Way to Grow. Suburban sprawl is the product of government subsidies. A free market approach to development would be far more efficient.


November 28: GOP Must Look Forward

Rehashing the reasons why Jerry Kilgore lost the election won't get a Republican elected in 2009. Virginia's GOP needs to figure out what it stands for.


November 28: A Republican Policy Agenda

Any GOP agenda needs to start with asserting control over state spending, otherwise the low-tax mantra has no credibility.


November 14: Power Over Principle. Compromising his principles on abortion and capital punishment may have helped Tim Kaine win the election, but he's lost any claim to moral authority.


October 31: $2.2 Billion Ain't Chump Change. Some say the state revenue surplus is no big deal -- only $3.3 cents on the dollar.  It's exactly that kind of attitude that has let spending run out of control.


October 17: Hither the Surplus? A crucial issue facing Virginia is how to dispose of $2 billion in surplus revenues that will be baked into the 2006 budget.  It should be treated as a windfall, not a permanent increase in revenue.


October 17: Barnie's Next Homework Assignment. Read the state Constitution and write a paper explaining why the General Assembly cannot obligate future legislatures to spending hikes.


October 3: Hide the Pea. Virginia has a sad history of politicians who tell voters they oppose taxes then break their promise once elected. Will November 2005 bring us more of the same? 


October 3: Here We Go Again. The state budget is brimming with surplus revenues, but legislators are sowing the seeds of Virginia's next fiscal crisis by embracing new, long-term spending commitments.


September 19: Baliles Sharpens the Transportation Debate. Jerry Baliles has proposed a bold plan to increase transportation funding. Trouble is, it would just inject more money into the same failed transportation policies of the past.


September 19: Warner Blinked. In his bid for the U.S. presidency, Mark Warner made a serious error in ruling out a 2006 run against George Allen.


September 5: What Was Kaine Thinking? By agreeing to debate Russ Potts, Tim Kaine is taking a huge risk. Potts could well drain more votes from Kaine than Jerry Kilgore.


September 5: Warner's Credibility Gap. Mark Warner bamboozled voters twice regarding his intention to raise taxes. Now he wants people to trust him as he negotiates $3 billion in VITA contracts.


August 23: Bidding War. Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore are vying to see who can promise the most new spending for education. It's more of the same policy that's been failing us for the past 50 years.


August 23: No Dog-Whistle Campaigning. There is no fudging in the abortion debate. Either Virginia's gubernatorial candidates clarify their positions or they risk losing big chunks of the electorate.


August 8: In Search of a Budget Strategy. The state's swelling budget surplus should embarrass Gov. Warner, but it doesn't. He says we need it to pay for Virginia's bottomless needs. In other words, spending is out of control.


August 8: Voters Want Substance. Transportation will dominate next year's General Assembly session, yet the press treatment of the issue goes no deeper than campaign platitudes and media handouts.


July 25: Shades of 1989. Hearings over U.S. Supreme Court appointments could influence Virginia elections this year by elevating the visibility social issues.


July 25: Tolls Versus Taxes. Tolls beat taxes as a funding mechanism for transportation projects because those with money at risk have reason to make realistic assumptions about costs and traffic.


July 11: A Budget Impasse in 2006? Government shutdowns are the nuclear option of state politics. Virginia could be heading for just such a calamity over transportation taxes. 


July 11: Kelo v. the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain has galvanized the property rights movement in Virginia. Even the politicians are hopping aboard.


July 11: Cranky Cranwell. Gov. Warner counsels rapprochement with Republicans in Virginia. But the Democrats' new party chair has swing into attack mode.


June 20: Recapping the Primaries. The June Republican primaries were cast as a referendum on last year's tax hike. Taxes were on the mind of voters, but so were other issues.


June 6: The Filibuster Fracas. In the showdown over judicial appointments, John Warner opted for comity in the Senate. George Allen stood for principle: The majority should prevail.


June 6: Kaine's Warner Problem. Mark Warner has accomplished so much of the Democrats' roads-and-schools agenda that he hasn't left Tim Kaine much room to maneuver. 


May 23: Justifying Low Taxes. Big spenders list endless "unmet needs" to justify tax hikes. Their foes must show how low taxes meet laudable goals, too, like spurring economic growth and protecting household income.


May 23: Boldness Succeeds in Politics. Virginia’s Republican Party doesn’t need unity or discipline – it needs leadership and vision. Without those traits, the GOP could go the way of the British Tories. 


May 9: Freedom of Association. The freedom of people to associate freely--and exclude others--is fundamental to liberty. State government has no business telling the Virginia GOP who can vote in its primaries.


May 9: National Implications. Virginians aren't the only ones watching the Kaine-Kilgore match-up. The outcome of that race will shape the prospects of 2008 presidential prospects George Allen and Mark Warner.


April 25: Out of Control. A new law giving public universities more autonomy is not bad policy, but it fails to address the underlying problem with higher ed in Virginia: the relentless increase in spending.


April 11: To Tax or Not to Tax. McSweeney defends earlier columns advocating a greater private-sector role in addressing Virginia's transportation woes.


April 11: Populist or Elitist? Tim Kaine hasn't figured out what kind of image he wants to project in his gubernatorial race. Recent comments show two contending personalities.


March 28: Liberate Transportation! The last thing Virginia needs is to crank up spending on a failed transportation system. It's time to turn entrepreneurs loose to devise innovative solutions.


March 28: Time for a Serious Debate. Enough with the sound bites and talking points! Virginia candidates for higher office must outline their vision of what it takes to make the Commonwealth competitive in a global economy.


March 14: A House Divided. Virginia is a Republican-leaning state, but that may not count for much with GOP legislators as deeply divided as they are.


March 14: Driving Blindfolded. The Commonwealth's auto-centric transportation policies have made Virginians increasingly vulnerable to swings in the price of oil and events in the Middle East.


February 28: Think We Could Arrange a Trade? Virginia's John Chichester wants to raise taxes. North Carolina's Marc Basnight prefers to cut spending. Who would you want on your team?


February 28: How the Senate Really Operates. Richard Saslaw and Russell Potts revealed the true temperament of the state Senate by uttering in public opinions normally expressed behind closed doors.


February 14: Learning from Maryland. If you're used to thinking of our northern neighbor as a land of liberalism, you might want to reconsider. While Virginians talk of raising taxes-- again--guess who's been cutting them?


February 14: The Public-Private Trap. Virginia tried funding transportation projects through "public-private partnerships" in the 19th century. Advocates of that approach today might think twice if they knew their history.


January 31: An Ill Considered Plan. Steve Baril's proposal to crank up borrowing and spending to build more roads would saddle Virginians with untold debt and do nothing to improve traffic congestion.


January 31: Capitol Schlock. The architectural standards of Virginia's capital area have gone downhill ever since Thomas Jefferson designed the state capitol. It's time to give the public more involved in planning.


January 17: They Still Don't Get It. The transportation plans proposed by Gov. Warner and Speaker Howell differ in details but share a common delusion: that it's possible to build our way out of traffic congestion.


January 17: The Burgers and Fries Diet. Virginia's transportation system suffers from hardening of the arteries. Our lawmakers' answer: Big Macs and extra large french fries.


January 4: Vouchers for Higher Ed. As an alternative to subsidizing public universities, Virginia should consider subsidizing student tuitions.


January 4: Wake Up Call for Virginia GOP. Paula Miller's victory in last month's special Congressional election demonstrated Democratic Party unity and organizational strength. Republicans better get their act together.


- 2004 -


December 13: Followship or Leadership? Virginia has plenty of risk-averse leaders willing to peddle more-of-the-same solutions, but very few courageous enough to articulate the hard truths or push for innovative solutions.


December 13: A Bad Idea that Just Won't Die. Once again we're hearing that Virginia needs two-term governors to carry out long-term reforms. But sound ideas don't require a cult of personality to be put into effect.


November 29: Kaine Shapes His Campaign. Virginia may be a red state in presidential politics but Democrats are still competitive at the state level. Tim Kaine is getting out front on visible issues of concern to Virginians. 


November 29: The Bill Is Coming Due. Government policy over the decades has fostered an auto-dependent transportation system. Virginia can't afford to pump more money into that system without fundamental reform.  


November 15: In Defense of A Strange Notion. Every four years we hear the cry to abolish the electoral college. It's worth remembering why Virginia's founding fathers adopted it in the first place.


November 15: Oops. Instead of the "structural budget deficit" cited to justify $750 million in higher taxes, it looks like the state might have a structural budget surplus. The failure of Virginia's political class is complete.


November 1: Getting a Grip on State Spending. Gov. Warner has yet to fulfill his promise to streamline wasteful spending in state government. He could start with his own office.


November 1: Teach that Man Some Economics! Congressman Bobby Scott trashes President Bush's economic policies, but he shows no understanding of the factors driving economic growth and budget deficits.


October 14: Hush Little GOP, Don't You Cry. Demos gonna sing you a lullaby... The "leak" that the Kerry campaign has written off Virginia may be meant to put Republicans to sleep.


October 14: Vote or Die... Or Maybe Catch Some Extra ZZZs. High voter turn-out doesn't help democracy if it's greased by fraud or reflects the ill-informed passions of the mob.


October 4: How Conservatives Win and Lose. Conservatives are right to push an anti-tax agenda for Virginia. But it's a mistake to appear negative and vindictive.


October 4: High on the Hog. Flush with higher taxes and a growing economy, the Warner administration is expanding state government again. Does Virginia really need a secretary and a commissioner of agriculture?


September 20: The Gay Agenda. There is a gay agenda, and the tactics used to advance it have become as hateful as the attitudes of the alleged bigots that gay activists oppose.


September 20: Asleep at the Switch? The GOP may not think that Virginia is in play in this year's presidential election, but a big push for Kerry could help Mark Warner if (when) he challenges George Allen in 2006.


September 7: Stepping Over the Line. The gay activist who "outed" Congressman Ed Schrock engages in political extortion. Is there no limit to the politics of personal destruction?


September 7: 1/30th of a Loaf... is better than none. Gov. Warner's one-time, $28 million tax give-back is welcome, even though it's increasingly evident that his $1.5 billion-per biennium increase was never called for.


August 23: How Far We've Fallen. Americans are losing their self reliance. Just compare the life of hardworking, 102-year-old "Granny" Grubb with Medicaid's latest: free stomach stapling for the obese.


August 23: Trust the People. Here's a novel idea. Maybe politicians should tell people what they really believe and let voters choose the candidates whose views most reflect their own. 


August 9: The VEA Shows its Hand. The teachers union wants it all: $1.5 million per biennium from tax hikes plus the $1 billion a year Gov. Warner claims he can save through greater government efficiency. 


July 26: Where's the Watchdog? Republicans have failed to wield their budgetary powers to control the size of state government. It's time for the General Assembly to exercise more oversight. 


July 12: Republicans Need a Bold Agenda. The next House election will likely be a referendum on taxes. Gov. Warner and the Democrats will speak with a unified voice.  Will the Republicans?


July 12: Gays Discriminate, Too. Gays want the same marriage rights as heterosexuals. But you don't hear them arguing to sanctify polygamy, incest or pedophilia. 


June 21: The Phony Car Tax "Cap". Moody's may have been impressed when lawmakers capped car tax reimbursements at $950 million forever, but there's nothing to stop a future legislature from changing its mind.


June 7: Peoples Republic of Virginia. In passing the $1.4 billion tax hike, Virginia's lawmakers started the long march down the road toward socialism and serfdom.


June 7: Hijacking the Language. The path to higher taxes and socialism begins by co-opting the meaning of words. Look how politicians today equate the word "invest" with higher government spending.


May 24: Constitution? What Constitution? Yes, Virginia does have a state constitution, though you wouldn't know it from the actions of the General Assembly.


May 24: Budget Wars: Phase 2. With tax revenues gushing -- even before tax hikes kick in -- the pressure to cut state spending will relent. The House of Delegates must keep the heat on the Warner administration.


May 10: Can the Republicans Regroup? Ridden with dissension after the 2004 budget debate, Republican legislators may be licking their self-inflicted wounds for a long time.


May 10: They're Baaaackk! Now they want higher taxes for roads -- subsidies for an inefficient transportation system that has become too expensive to support.


April 26: Sheep to the Shearing. The muttonheads in the House of Delegates, bleating in protest every step of the way, are getting fleeced on the tax issue.


April 26: Unfair and Unbalanced. While covering the dueling press releases in the battle over the budget, the state press corps has  totally missed some big stories.


April 12: Defining the Debate. Tax advocates framed the budget debate as about funding schools and roads -- issues that people care about. Anti-tax forces never offered an alternative.


April 12: McSweeney Defends Column, Scolds Warner administration


March 29: Time to Come Clean. Mark Warner wants to take credit for streamlining state government -- he just doesn't want to share the savings with taxpayers.


March 15: Broken Pledges. Warner, Chichester and other elected officials need to be held accountable for breaking their promises not to raise taxes.


March 1: GOP Gotterdammerung. Republican leaders have forgotten the principles of limited government that propelled them to power in the General Assembly. We may be witnessing the twilight of their rule.


February 16: Whose Side is That Guy On? U.S. Sen. John Warner undercut the Republican Party -- again -- with remarks last week that Gov. Mark Warner construed as endorsing his tax-hike plans.


February 2: Let's Try Spending Reform. Tax hike zealots argue that the state has exhausted budget-cutting opportunities. That's just plain wrong. Virginia could save hundreds of millions of dollars with little pain.


January 19: Spending Commitments? The General Assembly is not obligated to sustain programs funded by previous legislatures, much less increase spending. Lawmakers need to ask tough questions before passing a budget.


January 5: Governing on Impulse. Gov. Warner's rash ploy of submitting a budget with tax-hike assumptions built in threatens to undermine the tried-and-tested balance of power between Virginia's governor and legislature.


- 2003 -


December 15: Where's the Analysis? In pushing a $500 million-a-year tax hike, Mark Warner appears to assume that higher taxes will not slow the state's economic growth.  But it's hard to know: He offers no numbers to go by.


December 15: Pulling a Fast One. The best parts of Gov. Warner's tax plan are measures that the Republican General Assembly have already approved. Most of the rest is questionable.


December 1: Out of Hiding. Now we know why Governor Warner didn't want to talk about taxes before the November elections: He's just proposed one of the biggest tax hikes in Virginia history.


December 1: Shoot 'em and Bury 'em. Jerry Kilgore and Paul Goldman have floated some bad ideas regarding debt and taxes. Their proposals should be quickly and expeditiously disposed of.


November 17: Wait-and-See Warner. Gov. Warner could have turned the 2004 election into a referendum on his tax proposals. But he didn't want to take the risk. Now he will pay the political price of his caution.


November 17: Commanding the High Ground. Proponents of higher taxes were too scared to take their case to the voters this fall. House Speaker Howell, who has declared his opposition forthrightly, occupies the high terrain.


November 4: Hard Row to Hoe. Don't expect much in the way of tax reform. The special interests are in conflict and voters don't trust legislators in Richmond to keep their promises.


October 20: Baliles Gets It Wrong Again. Virginians distrust government, the former governor says, because agencies have been starved of funds -- in other words because Virginians aren't taxed enough.


October 20: Fraying at the Edges. Mark Warner’s rural strategy helped get him elected governor, but "tax reform" that favors rural communities may alienate Northern Virginia.


October 6: The Scandal That Won't Die. It's looking like Republican leadership made Ed Matricardi the fall guy in the eavesdropping scandal. The GOP still needs to come clean. 


October 6: Partisan Blather. Blaming Republicans for the run-up in state and local indebtedness smacks of Democratic demagoguery. There's plenty of blame to go around.


September 25: Bad Moody’s. Some say Virginia’s budget outlook is improving. But with the state on the Moody’s watch list, Gov. Warner should be applauded for his fiscal caution.


September 25: A Blast from 'Bama. Alabama voters just voted down a big tax increase. What is it about "no tax hikes" that Virginia politicians don't understand?


September 8: Who's in Control Around Here? Some say that the cost of the state budget is driven by factors beyond the state's control, ergo, taxes must be raised. Don't believe it.


September 8: Coming to a Courthouse Near You... Enjoying Alabama's flap over the Ten Commandments? Just wait until someone tries to expunge God from Virginia's Constitution.


August 25: Ready, Aim, Shoot Foot! What gives with the Virginia business leadership's support for higher taxes? Taxes kill jobs. And the state hasn't begun to exhaust cost-cutting measures. 


August 25: The Man with No Shame. John Chichester ducked the tax issue during his re-nomination fight, but his recent remarks will make the "t" word a hot topic in the 2003 General Assembly elections.


August 11: Showing Cleavage. To maintain their electoral majority in the South, Republicans must maintain clear differences with Democrats on taxes, guns and traditional values.


August 11: The Quicksand of Tax Reform. Finding an appropriate tax mix for Virginia's localities is no easy matter. Legislators should approach the challenge of restructuring local government taxes with caution.


July 28: Three Cheers for Partisanship. Cutting a "bipartisan" agreement on tax restructuring is just a ploy to keep the issue away from the voters. We should stake out partisan positions -- and then let the voters decide. 


July 28: Show us the Plan. Gov. Warner won't tip his hand on plans for restructuring the tax code. Maybe that's because he wants to hide from voters how he's breaking his campaign pledge not to increase taxes.


July 14: FAQs About SOQs. Despite Democrats' claims, there is no state constitutional mandate to fully fund educational "standards of quality." 


July 14: On Taxes and Secret Meetings. Republicans should beware Gov. Warner's beguiling rhetoric about finding "common ground" on tax reform. They might find themselves out-maneuvered.


June 30: What Happened to Tax Reform? If his accomplishments so far this year are any indication, Gov. Warner may go down in history as the "sports" governor.


June 30: Put an End to Open Primaries. Mark Warner helped defeat conservative General Assembly candidates by encouraging cross-over voting by Democrats -- reciprocating previous GOP tactics. The practice needs to end.


June 16: Beaten But Not Defeated. Conservative challengers to powerful GOP incumbents may have been defeated in last week's primaries, but they aren't going away.


June 9: A Primary Test for Business Elites. Virginia's business leaders, advocates of big government in Virginia, are pouring resources into protecting their favorite incumbents against challenges by the GOP rank and file. 


June 2: A Losing Strategy. Every election year, political consultants counsel politicians to play to the middle. But what wins elections is voter turnout spurred by sharp, issue-driven campaigns.


May 26: The Morning After. Jerry Kilgore is suffering repercussions from his fling with pro-abortion forces. His ruling on the  "morning after" pill may jeopardize his standing among pro-life Republicans.


May 19: Time Bombs. Political subdivisions of the state are issuing debt with informal assurances that, if needed, the state will back them up with tax revenues.  This reckless fiscal practice could explode.


May 12: Integrity Schmegrity. Virginia once nurtured its reputation for the integrity of its finances and debt. No longer. Legislators have reneged on solemn promises to voters and bond holders.


May 5: Government of the Elite, By the Elite. A healthy electoral system gives voters choices. In Virginia, gerrymandered districts stifle political competition and engender electoral apathy.


April 28: A Better Way to Finance Higher Education. It's time to wean colleges from state subsidies and make them more responsive to the marketplace.


April 21: Fiscal Nicotine. Like other states, Virginia is addicted to revenues from the tobacco settlement. That gives the Commonwealth a stake in the health of cigarette manufacturers.


April 14: True Progress for Minorities. Obsession with symbolic issues like cross burnings distract African-Americans from focusing on issues, like K-12 education, that can really make a difference in their lives.


April 7: Another Warner Flip-Flop. The governor is critical -- after the fact -- of Virginia Tech's new, race-neutral admissions policy. Why was he silent before, when decisions were being made? 


March 31: The Governor Needs a Compass. After more than a year in office, Gov. Warner has left the public guessing what his guiding principles are -- or if he even has any.


March 24: The Old Right's Quandary. "Old Right" conservatives are suspicious of war, which tends to expand government power. But there's no way for America to isolate itself from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. 


March 17: A GOP Opportunity. Democrats want to use tax "restructuring" as a way to raise revenue. Republicans should go to the voters this fall promising to make it a way to reduce the tax burden.


March 10: Tone Down the Budget Debate. It would be a mistake for Gov. Warner to veto the entire budget submitted by the General Assembly. He could accomplish many of his goals through the judicious use of the line-item veto.


March 3. Broken Faith. Last week, Gov. Warner backtracked on a campaign pledge not to raise taxes. Politicians, it seems, have lost all respect for the voters.


February 24. Stirring Class Envy. Democrats are demagoguing a proposed repeal of the Virginia estate tax. It's a losing strategy: Virginians don't have a problem with people passing along their wealth.


February 17: Dissing the Voters. The state constitution requires voter approval of state-backed bonds. Yet every year legislators come back with some new scheme to bypass the public.


February 10: The Democrats' Dilemma. With General Assembly elections looming this fall, Virginia Democrats find themselves with few strong issues to campaign on. 


February 3: The Wrath of the Brahmins. The ruling caste in the General Assembly put upstart Senator Ken Cuccinelli in his place. But their arrogance does not play well with the public.


January 27: The Trust Deficit. Some of Virginia's elected officials didn't get the message in November: Voters don't trust tax-and-borrow schemes hatched behind the scenes.


January 20: Defining Core Functions. There's a simple criteria for deciding if a government program is essential: What adverse consequences would occur if the state shut it down?


January 13: Fine-Tuning the Constitution. Virginians should re-think the way they elect lieutenant governors -- but the one-term limit on electing governors works just fine.


January 6: Where's the GOP Agenda? Republicans are likely to get inundated with legislative trivia if they don't define their priorities. Then Gov. Warner and the Democrats will set the tone for the General Assembly.


- 2002 -


December 23: False Choice. Many politicians assume the state has only two choices to balance the budget: raise taxes or cut programs. They ignore the option of changing the way government does business.


December 16: The Power of Symbols. Republicans appropriate state funds to paint Vance Wilkins' portrait. The governor cuts the traditional Capitol Christmas tree. Which one looks to you like they're serious about dealing with the budget?


December 9: Does Anybody Want to Lead? Neither the Republicans nor Democrats in Virginia offer a compelling vision for the future.


December 2: Hey, Look Over There! You can't blame Mark Warner for distracting voters with talk about two-term governors. But the idea is a bad one, and we've got more immediate problems to worry about.


November 25: Confused and Cynical. Voters have every reason to be disenchanted with political parties that articulate no consistent principles or agendas.


November 18: Moving Ahead on Transportation. Deprived of new tax revenues, government should invite the private sector to help address Virginia's transportation challenges.


November 11: Ambiguous Message. The defeat of the sales tax referenda in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads could mean a number of things. It may be too early to draw firm conclusions.


November 4: Untouchable? Proponents of the Hampton Roads sales tax referendum swear the revenues will be used for the transportation projects they say it will. But there's no constitutional basis for such a claim.


October 28: Time for a Serious Budget Debate. With painful budget cuts still to be made, Virginia faces an opportunity to shape state government for years to come. 


October 21: Flawed Assumptions. Governor Warner is dealing forthrightly with a budget crisis he didn't create. Next, he needs to address the underlying cause: bad budget forecasts.


October 14: As Good As Gold? North Carolina lost its AAA bond rating. If Virginia isn't careful, it could suffer the same fate.


October 7: Warner Crosses the Line. Contrary to what the governor says, hiking the sales tax is not the only option for dealing with traffic congestion.


September 30: That Confederate Flag Again. Nearly 140 years after the Civil War, the old Stars and Bars still inflames passions. But that's no reason to ban it from the political realm.


September 23: Time for Candor from Politicians. The General Assembly giveth, and the General Assembly taketh away. Voters should be more skeptical of politicians' solemn promises.


September 16: Preserving a Basic Freedom. Freedom of religion doesn't mean much if you can't educate your children in a manner consistent with your values. Virginians must preserve their private-school and home-school options.


September 9. Where’s Tim Kaine? The looming budget deficit puts the liberal Lieutenant Governor in a ticklish position as he maneuvers for the showdown with Jerry Kilgore in 2005.


September 3. A Clash of Philosophies. 

The budget crisis creates a pivotal choice for Virginia. Do we preserve government programs -- or our tradition of low taxes?


August 26. It's Time for a Real Budget Fix. The blame game won’t solve Virginia’s budget mess.  Neither will one-time budget cuts. It’s time to deal with underlying causes.









Contact Information

McSweeney & Crump

11 South Twelfth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 783-6802