Did Va. Republicans Just Bribe a Senator to Resign?
Democrat to step down today, take Tobacco commission job
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2014 9:50 AM CDT
Virginia Gov, Terry McAuliffe speaks during an event Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing near Petersburg, Va.   (AP Photo/The Progress-Index, Patrick Kane)

(Newser) – A Virginia state senator plans to announce his resignation today, in what looks like a masterstroke from state Republicans in their ongoing battle with Gov. Terry McAuliffe over expanding Medicaid. Democrat Phillip Puckett will step down effective immediately—and be swiftly appointed to the state tobacco commission, which is controlled by Republicans, the Washington Post reports. The move will also allow his daughter to be appointed to a permanent judgeship. "It's astounding to me," one Democrat said. "They figure the only way they could win was to give a job to a state senator."

McAuliffe blasted the move, saying he was "deeply disappointed" by "the uncertainty" it created, but vowed to press on in the Senate. Virginia's long battle over Medicaid expansion is coming to a head because of a looming budget deadline, and could lead to Virginia's first government shutdown, Vox explains. The Republican-controlled House is firmly opposed, but Democrats held narrow control of the Senate—until now. Puckett's resignation will give Republicans a 20-19 edge in the chamber, though three moderate Republicans do support expansion. Republicans issued a statement praising Puckett's decision to resign. The chair of the tobacco commission said it hadn't bribed Puckett to resign with the job offer, but was eager to hire him now that he was free.