- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

RICHMOND | Corporate titans, well-connected lobbyists and staunch conservatives share Republican Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell’s transition team with some Democrats.

Some who now sit on McDonnell transition work groups even held senior positions in the administrations of Democratic governors present and past.

The number of people advising the conservative Mr. McDonnell in 13 different policy areas before his Republican administration takes over Jan. 16 stood at 300 as of Thursday afternoon, with additions still coming.

Politically, they range from Delegate Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Democrat, Virginia’s first openly gay legislator, to Victoria Cobb, president of the socially conservative Family Foundation. Also on the list is Ben Marchi, Virginia coordinator for Americans for Prosperity, which organizes “tea party” rallies against Democratic initiatives such as the federal stimulus program and health and energy reform bills still before Congress.

Corporate power is represented. Thomas F. Farrell II, chief executive of Virginia’s dominant power utility, Dominion, is a transition team leader. He and Mr. McDonnell are childhood friends. Other notable names from the business world include former Landmark Communications chief executive John O. “Dubby” Wynne and Black Entertainment Television co-founder Sheila C. Johnson.

Mr. Wynne and Ms. Johnson were generous campaign donors to Mr. McDonnell, but both have also given to Democratic candidates or committees, illustrating how business and corporate donors can drift between parties depending on the nominee.

This year, Mr. Wynne gave Mr. McDonnell’s campaign $50,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit and nonpartisan tracker of cash in Virginia state politics. But he also gave $25,000 to Moving Virginia Forward, a Virginia political action committee controlled by Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman. And in 2002, Mr. Wynne served on a government efficiency study group appointed by former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner and headed by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, also a Democrat.

There are a few dozen veteran lobbyists, many of whom represent the most monied or influential interests on Capitol Square. Among them:

*James W. Beamer, who lobbies for Dominion Resources, serves on Mr. McDonnell’s natural resources work group.

*Stephen A. Horton, whose clients include Verizon and multinational health care and personal services provider ResCare, advises Mr. McDonnell’s health and human services work group.

*Michael Woods, whose clients include insurers, Carmax and beer brewer Anheuser-Busch, advises the transportation work group.

*May Fox, who represents health care clients, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and a major liquor manufacturer, is on the administration work group.

The transition team is a who’s who of important GOP names.

Mr. McDonnell, attorney general from 2006 until this winter, included his two immediate predecessors, Republicans Jerry W. Kilgore and Mark L. Earley, on public safety work groups. Unlike Mr. McDonnell, they fell short in their efforts to jump from attorney general to governor.

The team also includes Frank Atkinson, a veteran Republican strategist and author of two books on the GOP ascendancy in Virginia, and Ken Hutcheson, who managed Mr. Kilgore’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign.

Mr. McDonnell had named 28 current Republican state legislators and half that many Democrats to his work groups as of Thursday.

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