Cuccinelli: It’s about the law, not politics (video)
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli responded today on-camera for the first time about the controversy swirling around the opinion he gave to state colleges and universities regarding their non-discrimination policy. The opinion, set off a fire storm of protest across the Commonwealth and made the Attorney General the target of scorn by gay rights activists, not only in Virginia, but across the country.
The plot thickened even further, when Governor Bob McDonnell, a fellow Republican and ally of Cuccinelli issued a unprecedent “executive directive“, which emphasized the fair treatment of same-sex employees. Cuccinelli, did not respond to requests for interviews on the topic, but did issue a carefully worded statement, applauding the Governor’s decision.
Today, that changed, when our cameras caught up with the AG as he was leaving a press event at the Daily Planet in Richmond. Our reporter Yvette Yeon asked Cuccinelli about the Governor’s decision and the reaction on college campuses to the advice he gave to university presidents. At first, he said he couldn’t comment, but then he gave a relatively in-depth defense of his decision.
“Campus activism is an old tradition and its a good one,” said Cuccinelli. “Those folks are expressing themselves on an issue that has been in the political arena for a long time.” But the Attorney General said that their political ire, is wrongly directed at him and his office. His job, he said is not about politics, but about the law.
“Our role isn’t in the political arena on this subject,” he explained. “Our role is to give legal advice and to state what the law is, we’ve done that.”
Cuccinelli said that what the protestors have a problem with is the law, not his interpretation of it. The Attorney General’s office has long-held the belief that they were right on the law. He once again pointed out that 5 previous Attorney Generals have expressed similar opinions, 3 of them Democrats. He emphatically told Yeon that not one credible legal expert has been able to say that the advice he provided college presidents was incorrect.
((Note: Roz Helderman from the Washington Post, just released this dispatch from former Governor Jerry Baliles, where he does offer a counter-argument to Cuccinelli’s legal opinion.))
As for the debate over this issue, Cuccinelli said the opinions are so strong on both sides, that it may never go away.
“Until Virginia law changes, I am sure the debate will continue,” he said. “And frankly if its like every other political debate where people feel strongly about it, it’d continue even if the law changed.”
The entire uncut interview with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli can be found below: