Vance Wilkins

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Vance Wilkins
Delegate Wilkins 1988.jpg
53rd Speaker of the Virginia
House of Delegates
In office
January 12, 2000 – June 15, 2002
Preceded by Tom Moss
Succeeded by Lacey Putney (acting)
Minority Leader of the
Virginia House of Delegates
In office
November 19, 1991 – January 12, 2000
Preceded by Andy Guest
Succeeded by Richard Cranwell
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 24th district
In office
January 12, 1983 – June 15, 2002
Preceded by Mitchell Van Yahres
James B. Murray
Succeeded by Ben Cline
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 11th district
In office
January 11, 1978 – January 12, 1983
Preceded by Donald G. Pendleton
Succeeded by A. L. Philpott
Personal details
Born Shirley Vance Wilkins, Jr.
(1936-08-12) August 12, 1936 (age 81)
Amherst, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Leona Elena Ehlert
Alma mater Virginia Tech (B.S.)
Occupation General contractor
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1958–1960

Shirley Vance Wilkins, Jr. (born August 12, 1936) is a retired American politician of the Republican Party. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1978-2002. In 2000 he became the first ever Republican Speaker of the Virginia House and first non-Democratic Speaker since the Readjuster Party controlled the House in the early 1880s.

Wilkins was considered the driving force in the expansion of Republican House membership in the 1980s and 1990s, especially after he became minority leader in 1992. In his first term as Speaker, he oversaw the redistricting of the House after the 2000 census that led to an increase in the Republican majority from 52-47 (1 independent) to 64-34 (2 independents) after the November 2001 election.


In March 2002, Republican Party of Virginia chair Ed Matricardi was accused of eavesdropping on a Democratic Party conference call. Republican state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore began an investigation, which soon expanded to include Wilkins' chief of staff, Claudia D. Tucker, and brought suspicion on Wilkins himself.[1]

Then, on June 7, 2002, The Washington Post reported that executives of Wilkins' former construction company had revealed that Wilkins had paid $100,000 to a former political staffer, Jennifer L. Thompson, to keep quiet about "unwelcome sexual advances" by Wilkins.[2] Under pressure from Kilgore and his own caucus, Wilkins resigned as Speaker a week later, and resigned from the House shortly afterward.


  1. ^ Masters, Brooke A.; Shear, Michael D. (2002-05-09). "U.S. Joins Probe of Phone Snooping; Republicans Investigated for Allegedly Listening to Democrats' Conference Calls". The Washington Post. p. B4. 
  2. ^ Melton, R.H. (2002-06-07). "Va. Speaker Settles Sex Complaint; Wilkins Paid Woman at Least $100,000, Denies Accusations". The Washington Post. p. A1. 

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