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Va. House approves McAuliffe Cabinet

RICHMOND — The House of Delegates unanimously approved Gov. Terry McAuliffe's Cabinet nominees Thursday, one day after a federal investigator said that one of his picks had not knowingly broken federal lobbying laws.

The House voted unanimously for all 13 of the Democratic governor’s nominees, including Maurice Jones, the former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as secretary of commerce and trade.

The GOP-dominated House had delayed action on the Cabinet for two previous days after learning that an inspector general’s report had indicated that Jones had engaged in improper lobbying as deputy HUD secretary.

Testifying on the matter before a U.S. House subcommittee Wednesday, HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya said Jones had been following bad advice from his staff when he allowed a mass e-mail to be sent on his behalf, asking HUD employees and other recipients to contact certain U.S. senators and urge them to vote for a budget bill.

Jones, a former Virginian-Pilot publisher who left the paper in early 2012 for HUD, had said earlier in the week that he would “never intentionally violate the laws, policies or codes of conduct that govern public officials.”

“We thought the explanation offered by the inspector general and the secretary was sufficient,” said Matthew Moran, spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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