Republican Senate candidate George Allen and Democrat rival Tim Kaine agree Virginia should take control the board overseeing construction of the $6 billion Dulles Rail project. But Allen still hopes to make the board's questionable financial dealings an issue in the Senate race.
The two former governors on Tuesday both endorsed legislation offered by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., that would shrink the embattled Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and give Virginia control of what is now a regional board that Wolf said has grown out of control.
"The MWAA board in place today is not what was envisioned 25 years ago," Wolf said. "This board is broken and broken badly."
State and federal authorities have harshly criticized the authority following a series of reports in The Washington Examiner about a series of no-bid contract it has awarded to departing members of its board of directors. That includes a $180,000-a-year job awarded to former board member Mame Reiley the day after she resigned for health reasons.
Allen, appearing with Wolf at a news conference in Leesburg, tried to turn the airports authority's problems into an issue in the Senate race, saying that it was Kaine who as governor appointed authority members, including Reiley, who are now at the center of financial and ethical firestorms.
"His appointees have caused a lack of trust in the board," Allen said of Kaine.
Kaine reappointed Reiley in 2009. He also appointed Dennis Martire, a labor union official who Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is now trying to remove from the board. McDonnell cited a federal report claiming Martire spent lavishly on international travel that was only marginally related to his authority duties.
But The Examiner also reported this week that two former Allen appointees to the airports board, Robert Calhoun and Kenneth Klinge, were awarded contracts to work as lobbyists for the authority after leaving posts with the board.
The difference, Allen said, is his appointees got the jobs but " it wasn't being decided by any of my appointees that they get those positions."
It was Kaine who, as governor, helped broker a deal in 2006 that put the airports board in charge of the Dulles Rail project and who agreed to give the authority control over the Dulles Toll Road to help finance the project. The project will extend Metro's new Silver Line to Washington Dulles International Airport and the authority now is threatening to significantly raise toll rates to pay for it.
"He put in no protections for the toll road users," Allen said.
But Allen had supported the rail deal, too, and Kaine's campaign said Tuesday that the Republican's attempts to blame Kaine for the authority's problems is a transparently political attack.
"Time and again, George Allen's proven that he'd rather play political games than solve problems, and today is no different," Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said. "Gov. Kaine didn't get Dulles Rail off the drawing boards after years of delay by engaging in partisan back and forth."