Former Virginia Legislator Convicted In Scheme With Old Dominion University

There is a revolving door theme in today’s posts. We saw yesterday how Communications Commissioner Meredith Baker was made senior vice president of Comcast-NBC, Phillip A. Hamilton, a former Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, has been convicted of leveraging his office to secure a paying position with Old Dominion University. He now will be sentenced for federal program bribery and extortion under color of official right.

Hamilton is accused of using his power over the budget to push through a bill to give $500,000 a year to a center at the university in exchange for being made director of the program. He was paid $40,000 in salary.

The case involved allegations that Hamilton tried to cover-up the connection to the Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership, including hiding the fact that he was director of the center when asked by investigators.

He now faces 10 years in prison on the bribery charge and up to 20 years for the extortion charge.

What is a bit unnerving is that the Old Dominion employees involved will not be charged. Both key ODU officials were given immunity. It is a bit troubling to see everyone else walk in such a sordid affair. As an academic, I find the case particularly distasteful.

Hamilton served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1988-2010. He still received over 45% of the vote when he was defeated by Robin Abbott.

Source: TMP

23 thoughts on “Former Virginia Legislator Convicted In Scheme With Old Dominion University”

  1. Mike S.,

    Your keen insights are always appreciated, to correct myself…

    Elaine M.,

    Thanks for the Think Progress link.

  2. tomdarch,
    It does seem like a little amount, but most of the state universities are broke and are looking for money in any way that they can. That is why the Koch’s are doing this. They smell blood and they know the universities will take it. However, this is the wrong way to go!

  3. Raff- It amazes me how LITTLE money it takes to buy these academic programs. $1.5mil at FSU? That seems like peanuts – not just to the Koch barons, but to a decent sized academic program.

  4. Elaine,
    I saw that Think Progress story too and I it amazes me how much money the Koch Boys have spread around in so many different arenas. All of it designed to increase the level of control corporations have over us.

  5. anon nurse,

    Think Progress had an article on the subject yesterday:

    REPORT: Koch Fueling Far Right Academic Centers At Universities Across The Country


    Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted reports from the St. Petersburg Times and the Tallahassee Democrat regarding a Koch-funded economics department at Florida State University (FSU). FSU had accepted a $1.5 million grant from a foundation controlled by petrochemical billionaire Charles Koch on the condition that Koch’s operatives would have a free hand in selecting professors and approving publications. The simmering controversy sheds light on the vast influence of the Koch political machine, which spans from the top conservative think tanks, Republican politicians, a small army of contracted lobbyists, and Tea Party front groups in nearly every state.

    As reporter Kris Hundley notes, Koch virtually owns much of George Mason University, another public university, through grants and direct control over think tanks within the school. For instance, Koch controls the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, an institute that set much of the Bush administration’s environmental deregulation policy. And similar conditional agreements have been made with schools like Clemson and West Virginia University. ThinkProgress has analyzed data from the Charles Koch Foundation, and found that this trend is actually much larger than previous known. Many of the Koch university grants finance far right, pro-polluter professors, and dictate that students read Charles Koch’s book as part of their academic study:

    – West Virginia University: As ThinkProgress reported last year, Koch funds an array of academic programs at West Virginia University, a public university. One Koch-funded academic at WVU, economics professor Russell Sobel, has written a book blasting regulations of all types. He even argues that less mine safety regulations will make coal miners more safe. As the St. Petersburg Times reported, a similar arrangement has been made with WVU as with FSU in accepting at least $480,000 from Koch.

    – Brown University: The Charles Koch Foundation funds the Political Theory Project at Brown, which provides funding for “Seminar Luncheons for undergraduates, academic conferences, research fellowships for graduate students, support for faculty research, and a postdoctoral fellowship program.” Amity Shales, a pop-conservative writer who argues that the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, an odd theory promoted by Charles Koch himself, has been a featured speaker at the Koch-funded Project at Brown. Moreover, Koch’s donation of at least $419,254 to Brown has underwritten a number of research projects in the Economics and Political Science deparments, including a paper arguing that bank deregulation has helped the poor.

    – Troy University: The Charles Koch Foundation, along with the Manuel Johnson and the BB&T Foundation, provided Troy University, a public university, a gift of $3.6 million to establish the Center for Political Economy last year. The Center’s stated goal is to push back against the belief following the financial crisis that markets need regulation. Notably, the entire Advisory Council for the Center is made up of Koch and BB&T-funded professors at other universities, including Russell Sobel at West Virginia University and Peter Boettke at George Mason University. Currently, the Center’s only staffer, Professor Scott Beaulier, is a board member of the ExxonMobil-funded attack group, American Energy Alliance, and a former staffer for Koch’s think tank at George Mason.

    – Utah State University: The Charles Koch Foundation has given nearly $700,000 to Utah State University, mostly for the Huntsman School of Business. The money has been used to hire five new faculty members, and establish a program for undergraduates to enroll and learn about Charles Koch’s “Science of Liberty” management theory. Professor Randy Simmons, the “Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy” at the school, helps select students — who must provide information about their ideological interests in their application form — to the Koch program. Simmons also works for several Koch-funded front groups, and writes papers against environmental regulations. Charles Koch’s book, “The Science of Success,” a book Forbes mocked for proclaiming a “Marxist faith in ‘fixed laws’ that govern ‘human well-being,’” is part of the required reading list for the program. A representative for Utah State did not return ThinkProgress’ calls about conditional strings attached to the Koch grant.

    Charles Koch Foundation grants, along with direct Koch Industries grants, are distributed to dozens of other universities around the country every year, to both public and private institutions. Some of the programs, like the Charles Koch Student Research Colloquium at Beloit College, are funded by grants of little over $130,000 and simply support conservative speakers on campuses. We have reached out to several of the schools to learn more about the agreements, but none so far have returned our calls.

  6. “I’d like to know what rationale the prosecutor used for failure to exercise the option to prosecute everyone involved and if said prosecutor also has ties to Old Dominion.”


    With your law background you know far better than I that the current, perhaps past, MO’s of prosecutors is to grant immunity
    to “supposed” lesser actors to make a publicity beneficial case. This was how Sam “The Bull” Gravano, who admitted to at least 22 murders, got immunity and the witness protection program. If I was a cynic, which I guess I am despite an unrealistic optimistic nature, I would think that the prosecutions like this are less for the sake of justice and more in the service of a particular prosecutor’s career.

    Regarding Old Dominion, Florida State, George Mason, et al., the sad truth is that our institutions of higher learning, while professing the noblest of ideals, are far too often enterprises
    whose main interests lies in money, power and continuity. Three
    of the oldest in the World: Oxford, Eton and the University of Bologna have histories showing this to be true. In the US certainly Harvard and Yale have highly checkered histories of being bastions of wealth and privilege, rather than sterling repositories of knowledge. My own Ivy League Alma Mater, Columbia, certainly has a past and present of catering to the needs of wealthy donors, rather than the interests of academic excellence.

  7. It sounds like many people are really worried about being prosecuted for insider trading. -kay sieverding


  8. I got the WSJ today. It sounds like many people are really worried about being prosecuted for insider trading. Many of the same evidentiary issues.

  9. For 40 a year…..come on….even people that go to Old Dominion aren’t that stupid are they?

    Let me rephrase “That Stupid” with a better term…. they must not be too familiar with how the graft system works…

    In order for the system to work properly ….the money can never be tied back to you….ask Jack….

  10. I am glad that Illinois doesn’t have the only politicians who try to make a profit out of their positions in State government!

  11. “Don’t George Mason’s law and econ programs have financial ties to right wing non-profits.” —

    Ties to the Koch brothers anyway… The Republicans are fighting a war in a America. If they have to buy the outcome that they desire, so be it…

    Right-wing billionaires purchasing own professors
    by Alex Pareene

    May 12, 2011


    If you’re going to spend a lot of money endowing a professorship, it’s only rational to ensure that the professor whose salary you’re paying advances your interests, right? After all, when the Kochs invested millions in George Mason University, they got the incredibly influential anti-environmental regulation nonprofit Mercatus Center out of the deal. The least FSU can do for its cash is teach “Atlas Shrugged” in a business ethics class. (Which is something that Randian-run bank BB&T has made happen, also at Florida State University.) (Yes, BB&T received billions of dollars of TARP money.)

    Today’s rich libertarian knows the real ticket to winning the future is filling schools with people who agree with you. (This hasn’t worked for the left, but that may be because they spent all their time in control of academia rigorously critiquing texts instead of just inventing pseudo-scientific justifications for gutting the welfare state and eliminating the tax burden of very rich people.)

    But is buying an academic a good investment? Sure! Just ask the DeVos family, who — when they’re not pushing “education reform” — are keeping Austrian economics afloat at their weird fake Michigan university. As Andrew Leonard reported yesterday, DeVos-funded ideas have made it all the way to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee!
    (end excerpt)

  12. What I don’t understand is why the color of law offenses aren’t prosecuted unless bribery can be proven (except in cases of prisoners being abused)

  13. The Koch Bros and Florida State, Ayn rand’s “foundation” and UT-Austin and this. Does the South have a lock on pay to play academics. Don’t George Mason’s law and econ programs have financial ties to right wing non-profits.

  14. Heck of a guy, I’m sure…

    So, he risked a 30-year sentence for a job that pays $40K? Not too bright, that one. -Bette Noir

    He thought he knew a good deal… I’m guessing that his other prospects were limited.

  15. I’d like to know what rationale the prosecutor used for failure to exercise the option to prosecute everyone involved and if said prosecutor also has ties to Old Dominion.

  16. So, he risked a 30-year sentence for a job that pays $40K? Not too bright, that one.

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