- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jack Johnson sentenced today; Ehrlich on stump for book, Romney; Virginia panel hears pregnancy-center cases; D.C. Council undecided about Thomas; FAA chief on leaves after drunken driving arrest; Virginia assembly ambivalent on health exchange; Allen, Kaine to debate Wednesday; Democrats file suit over Bolling’s authority.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson is due to be sentenced in federal court Tuesday morning, bringing closure to a more than yearlong public corruption scandal that broke open the county’s “pay-to-play” political culture. Johnson, 62, pleaded guilty in May to charges of extortion and witness and evidence tampering and now faces 11 to 14 years in jail under sentencing guidelines, according to The Washington Times.

Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is on the stump for his book and his GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “It’s a lot like campaigning,” Mr. Ehrlich, who started day three of his local media blitz on Friday with a predawn radio interview, tells The Times. “I love giving interviews, talking issues, talking politics — the give-and-take. There’s just no election day.”

A federal appeals panel in Virginia will hear arguments Tuesday in two cases in which Maryland anti-abortion pregnancy counseling centers claim that government ordinances requiring them to post certain disclaimers infringe on their constitutional rights. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear a case involving Baltimore’s ordinance that requires pregnancy counseling centers that don’t provide abortions or birth control to post disclaimers stating so, according to the Associated Press.

The D.C. Council failed Monday to reach a consensus on the political ramifications of a federal raid on the Northeast home of colleague Harry Thomas Jr. as part of an ongoing corruption probe. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown indicated he will speak with Mr. Thomas about the council’s closed-door discussion, which did not generate a decision on whether the beleaguered member should stay, be asked to step aside or be removed from his committee assignment, The Times reports.

The administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration was placed on a leave of absence Monday after he was arrested and charged in Fairfax City over the weekend with driving while intoxicated. Transportation Department officials said they learned of Randy Babbitt’s arrest on Monday and were in discussions with legal counsel about his employment status. FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta will serve as acting administrator in Mr. Babbitt’s absence, faa-administrator-babbitt-charged-dwi/” href=”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/5/faa-administrator-babbitt-charged-dwi/” target=”_blank”>The Times reports.

Virginia legislators appear at odds over how — or even whether — to move forward with a state-run health insurance exchange mandated by President Obama’s health care overhaul during the 2012 General Assembly session. Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr. said Monday that the administration right now does not think it needs to ask for legislation on the matter, and that there was still too much planning for anything to be prepared, The Times reports.

Republican George Allen and Democrat Timothy M. Kaine will meet Wednesday in their first debate of Virginia’s marquee 2012 U.S. Senate race. The election, which probably will feature the two former governors, could be one of a handful of competitive contests next year that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. The two candidates will debate for 90 minutes in Richmond, according to The Washington Post.

Virginia Democratic Caucus Chairman A. Donald McEachin filed a lawsuit Monday to stop Republicans from using Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s tie-breaking vote to organize the General Assembly’s upper chamber, The Times reports.

“In Virginia, only an elected member of the Senate can vote on the rules of the Senate,” Mr. McEachin said. “The Lieutenant Governor was not elected to the Senate. Unfortunately, the Republicans have not shown any inclination to work with us to resolve this impasse. In a 20-20 Senate, power should be shared,” The Times reports.