It is a thorny issue for Ken Cuccinelli, especially because he was so vociferous in his opposition for so long. Today, the Attorney General took an another step in his slow evolution on the concept of the restoration of civil rights for non-violent ex-felons, endorsing a plan to make the process smoother, but stopping short of saying a sitting governor can issue a blanket restoration through executive order.
Cuccinelli testified on behalf of a Governor McDonnell's proposed constitutional amendment reforming the process during this past legislative session.
The issue itself is difficult, but the politics aren't easy for Cuccinelli either. Democrats were quick to pounce on his evolution on the issue and attacked his bi-partisan report as not going far enough to address the process.
Cuccinelli's role in the reform of the process will quickly take a back seat, because tomorrow Governor Bob McDonnell will reveal his plan to streamline the restoration process. McDonnell failed to convince the legislature to begin the process of amending the constitution in the last legislative session.
Here is my story for NBC12:
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -
For almost his entire career, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been opposed to the idea of creating an easier path for non-violent ex-felons to have their right to vote restored.
But today- the candidate for governor revealed the results of a study on the issue, and said he now supports reforming the process.
Democrats are calling the move an election year stunt.
After years of resisting changes to the process, Cuccinelli now concede the process needs to be improved.
Cuccinelli argued in favor of Governor McDonnell's constitutional amendment during the last legislative session and supported the governor's reform plans as far back as 2010.
"We need a simpler way for those individuals who want to return to their place in society," the Attorney General announced in a press conference revealing the results of the study.
Cuccinelli believes a sitting governor cannot issue a blanket executive order automatically restoring rights. He also believes the General Assembly cannot just pass a law allowing the automatic change. He believes it requires an amendment to the constitution, something the legislature has consistently rejected.
The ACLU of Virginia rejected Cuccinelli's premise. Arguing the committee didn't examine the executive order process close enough.
"There are many other ways that an executive order can be crafted to preserve the Governor's discretionary role and make appropriate administrative and policy distinctions," said ACLU Executive Director Claire G. Gastañaga.
Instead, Cuccinelli suggested a department specifically tasked with reviewing the cases and putting them in front of the governor for speedy resolution.
"I am looking for ways to make re-entry work," he said.
It's a concept Democrats say is too little too late
"If this issue were actually important to the Attorney General he would not have waited more than three years to form a commission to explore it and make recommendations," said State Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico)
read and see the full story on NBC12.com