- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2005

RICHMOND — Transportation Secretary Whitt Clement is leaving his Cabinet post by the end of the month for a lucrative job with an influential Virginia lobbying, law and consulting firm.

Mr. Clement informed Gov. Mark Warner of his decision late last week, but has yet to tender a resignation letter, said Kevin Hall, the governor’s deputy press secretary.

Mr. Hall said no decision has been made as to whether Mr. Clement’s chief deputy, Pierce Homer, will fill the secretariat for the remaining 10 months of Mr. Warner’s single, nonrenewable term.

Mr. Clement was on vacation yesterday and not available for comment.

A Democrat who served seven terms in the House of Delegates from Danville, Mr. Clement took the job in 2002, inheriting a Virginia Department of Transportation that had piled up billions of dollars in cost overruns and projects hopelessly behind schedule.

From 2001 to 2004, the Commonwealth Transportation Board that Mr. Clement heads had slashed its six-year road-building plan by nearly $4 billion, or 38 percent, to accommodate the shortfalls.

Mr. Clement was involved in a lengthy nationwide search in 2002 that resulted in the hiring of veteran highway engineer and department manager Philip Shucet as the state’s transportation commissioner. Mr. Shucet has since gained credit with lawmakers of both parties for restoring operational and fiscal discipline to VDOT.

Although general state revenues the past year have shown double-digit growth over the year earlier, revenues dedicated to transportation uses such as the gasoline tax have remained flat.

The General Assembly this year approved about $850 million as a one-time cash infusion for road maintenance and construction, and to pay off about $250 million in debts remaining from highway projects completed years ago.

Nevertheless, Mr. Clement, the administration and legislators say this year’s contribution is nothing more than a first step toward transportation needs of more than $20 billion.

Mr. Clement left the General Assembly in 2001 in an unsuccessful bid to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

No specific date has been set for Mr. Clement’s departure. He is expected to join Richmond-based Hunton & Williams, which has 17 offices worldwide including five overseas, early next month, Mr. Hall said.

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