Demi-billionaire Pat Robertson has had a free ride in Virginia and it needs to stop now. It started when the Republican Attorney General Mark Earley declined to prosecute Pat Robertson for illegally using charitable funds and resources in his diamond mining ventures in Africa. It would have been devastating for Robertson to lose his special tax exempt status. (Pat Robertson's history of large campaign contributions to Mark Early and Governor Kilgore didn't hurt.)
"Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs determined that Robertson "willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements and other implications." Yet when the office called for legal action against Robertson in 1999, Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, a Republican, intervened with his own report, agreeing that Robertson had made deceptive appeals but overruling the recommendation for his prosecution." Pat Robertson then proceeded to expand his mining operations in Africa.
Senator "bridge to nowhere" Stevens of Alaska started this latest government give away when he tacked an amendment to a Senate bill allocating lots of money for Pat's 1-64 interchange. (This is highly unusual.) House representatives Thelma Drake and Randy Forbes did their part getting this pork barrel project approved in the house.
It's interesting that Drake fails to mention this accomplishment on her website. Thelma knows the majority of Hampton Roads residents are furious with this tax dollar give away to Pat Robertson This project does not benefit the citizens of hampton roads. That money could be put to better use helping fund another tunnel crossing or ease our traffic congestion. This project benefits Pat Robertson's real estate development project.
It wonder what sort of return Pat Robertson gets on his "political contributions."
There is a history of political payoffs to Robertson. The Bush administration put the scandalous "Operation Blessing" on the government website for Hurricane Katrina donations. (It was only one of three organizations posted.) Public uproar forced FEMA officials to remove it. And now we have our own "bridge to nowhere" being proposed "just for Pat."
Max Blumenthal of The Nation reported, “Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks.” South American mines, Federal (and possibly state) tax dollars for roads, a racehorse, and now a milk shake, Robertson’s speculative endeavors cover a broad spectrum. (NOTE: Pat Robertson is accused once again of violating his tax exempt status by using his ministry to market a diet shake he has now licensed to General Nutrition corp.)
Hopefully no local or state tax dollars will be used to finance Robertson’s latest endeavor. Let this dem-billionaire foot the bill for once; he needs to finance his own real estate developments. If that federal pork barrel project money can not be used where VDOT's needs it, then Virginia should return these funds rather than waste the tax payer's money. Virginia needs to stop bending over backwards trying to figure out how Pat’s interstate link can safely fit within standard highway safety guidelines. This exchange does not safely fit into I-64. Stop making exceptions and giving away our tax dollars to wealthy elitists.