House gets rid of W&M visitor Former Delegate Dillard, appointed by Warner, had long-standing college ties BY PAMELA STALLSMITH TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Friday, February 10, 2006 H. MORGAN GRIFFITH House Majority Leader, R-Salem DEL. BRIAN J. MORANHouse Democratic Caucus Chairman, Alexandria House Republicans turned on one of their own yesterday, dumping former Del. James H. Dillard II of Fairfax from the board of visitors of the College of William and Mary. In a move that Democrats decried as mean-spirited, the GOP-controlled House voted 51-45 against confirming the appointment of Dillard to the college's board, to which he was appointed last summer by former Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner. Dillard, a moderate Republican and past chairman of the House Education Committee, served in the House for 31 years and did not seek re-election last year. He was among the leaders of the 17 House GOP mavericks in 2004 who broke from their party's anti-tax leadership to support Warner's $1.4 billion tax package. House Republican leaders said the action against Dillard was not retribution for the 2004 vote but resulted from a political "betrayal" and an apparent "quid pro quo" with the former governor for actively backing a Democratic candidate last year. "My feeling was there was a quid pro quo between the governor and Jim that if you will support the Democratic candidate -- and he was very aggressive in supporting the Democratic candidate to replace him -- if you will support the Democratic candidate I'll give you this plum position," House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said after yesterday's floor session. "We didn't want to be a participant in that exchange of what I would consider 'blood money.'" Griffith said Dillard supported two former aides -- Democrat David W. Mardsen, who won Dillard's old seat in last November's election, and C.R. Clemmons, who waged an unsuccessful primary challenge against Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr., R-Hanover. "I like Jim. It wasn't an easy decision," Griffith said. "The bottom line is you can't reward folks for being traitors." Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said the former governor was disappointed with the House's action and disputed the suggestion that the two had reached an agreement that lead to the appointment. "Delegate Dillard is a well-regarded leader on education issues with decades of service and expertise," she said. "He wanted to continue in public service and his own colleagues said no." Serving on the William and Mary board is considered one of the premier gubernatorial appointments. Dillard's ties to the nation's second-oldest college run deep -- one of his grandfathers served as rector, and he is a graduate. Dillard, who was unavailable for comment, was at a meeting of the university board when the House took its action. Rector Susan Magill called Dillard's service invaluable and news of the House action "extremely distressing," college spokesman William T. Walker said. He said the college would find other ways for Dillard to serve his alma mater. Dillard's appointment unanimously cleared the Senate last month and survived an attempt earlier this week by the House Privileges and Elections Committee to purge his name from the list of appointees. The four other Warner nominees, including Barbara Ukrop of Richmond and Michael K. Powell, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the son of retired Gen. Colin Powell, were confirmed. "It's fairly mean-spirited when you consider he was one of their own," House Democratic Caucus Chairman Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria said. "He would have been an excellent addition to the board." Such an action is rare. Four years ago, the Senate Republican leadership led an effort that resulted in removing 17 appointees of former Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore. In yesterday's vote on Dillard, five Republicans -- three from his home turf of Northern Virginia and two longtime colleagues -- and one independent, Katherine Waddell of Richmond, joined 39 Democrats in supporting his appointment. Some House insiders suggested the action was intended to send a message to potential Republican renegades who might break with the leadership this year to support Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's transportation funding plan. Griffith denied that claim. Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said state law specifies that a person who is rejected by the legislature for a particular board seat is not ever eligible for appointment to that same board. "We will move as quickly as we can to put forth an individual to fill the vacant seat," he said. Times-Dispatch staff writer Andrew Petkofsky contributed to this report. -This is ridiculous. I commend Delegates Rust and May for simply not going along with the fray.