|Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 38th district
December 29, 1998 – June 9, 2014
|Preceded by||Jackson E. Reasor, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Ben Chafin|
August 10, 1947 |
Russell County, Virginia, U.S.
|Residence||Russell County, Virginia|
|Alma mater||University of Tennessee
Phillip P. Puckett (born August 10, 1947, Russell County, Virginia) is an American politician. A Democrat, he was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 1997 and resigned on June 9, 2014. He represented the 38th district, made up of five counties and parts of four others in the southwestern part of the state.
In 2005, Puckett ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He finished fourth and last in the Democratic primary, behind Leslie L. Byrne, Viola Baskerville and Chap Petersen. In February 2014, Puckett's daughter, Martha P. Ketron, was confirmed by the Virginia House of Delegates to fill a six-year term for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judgeship that she had been temporarily filling since 2013. The Senate of Virginia was also required to confirm her, but cited an informal policy that family members of current legislators are typically not appointed to the judiciary.
Puckett resigned from the Senate on June 9, 2014, citing family reasons. His resignation gave Republicans a 20-19 majority during budgetary negotiations and the consideration of the expansion of Medicaid. He had been under consideration for a job with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission prior to his departure. Puckett's resignation coincided with an alleged offer by the Virginia Republican Party to appoint him as the deputy director of the state tobacco commission, although following criticism, he announced he would not accept the appointment. Republican legislators planned to confirm Puckett's daughter to her full six-year term following his resignation. Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement regarding Puckett's resignation that he was disappointed because of the impact it would have on negotiations over his desire to expand Medicaid coverage for approximately 400,000 low-income Virginians.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington subsequently asked the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia to investigate whether Puckett violated federal anti-corruption laws by resigning from office in exchange for offers of appointment to the tobacco commission and that of his daughter's appointment to a state judgeship. The DOJ and the FBI subsequently launched an investigation in June 2014 into the circumstances surrounding Puckett's resignation. Puckett retained a former federal prosecutor, Thomas J. Bondurant Jr., as his lawyer.
On October 3, 2014, it was learned that Gov. McAuliffe's chief of staff [Paul Reagan] had "left a voice-mail message for a Democrat who was on the verge of quitting the General Assembly in June, saying that the senator's daughter might get a top state job if he stayed to support the governor's push to expand Medicaid, according to descriptions from three people who heard the recording."
- "Senator Phillip P. Puckett; Democrat - District 38". Senate of Virginia. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Election Results". Virginia State Board of Elections.
- Vozzella, Laura (2014-06-08). "Va. lawmaker to resign, paving way for jobs for self, daughter, according to associates". Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- Walker, Julian (February 4, 2014). "Beach judge, senator's kin snared in Va. Senate rift". The Virginian Pilot.
- Nolan, Jim (June 8, 2014). "Democratic senator Puckett resigns, adding to state budget turmoil". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Vozzella, Laura (2014-06-09). "Amid firestorm of criticism, Puckett won't take tobacco commission job". Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- State Senator Phillip Plunkett resigns, businessinsider.com; accessed November 13, 2014.
- Phillip Puckett resignation and aftermath, wtvr.com, June 8, 2014; accessed November 13, 2014.
- Owens, Charles (June 12, 2014). "Puckett accused of violating fed, state anti-corruption laws". Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Vozzella, Laura; Portnoy, Jenna (June 18, 2014). "U.S. probing Puckett resignation, job offers in Va.". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Cain, Andrew (June 20, 2014). "Puckett retains lawyer, asserts innocence". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- Governor McAuliffe's chief of staff left a voice mail message ..., redstate.com, October 3, 2014; accessed November 13, 2014.
- Vozzella, Laura. "McAuliffe aide suggested job for senator's daughter if he remained in his seat". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved October 2, 2014.