SIEGEL: Let’s do away with Denver Riggleman

Charlottesville deserves to have a better congressman

op-siegel
Denver Riggleman, R-Charlottesville, has now been representing Virginia’s 5th District — which includes Charlottesville — for over a year. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Denver Riggleman, R-Charlottesville, has now been representing Virginia’s 5th District — which includes Charlottesville — for over a year. In a year, he has shown us exactly why he is unfit to represent this community in Congress. Since taking off, he has shown with both his campaign financing and his voting record that his loyalties lie not with the citizens of Charlottesville, but rather follow the interests of big money donors.

Riggleman often criticizes lobbyists and big money in politics, saying they have too much control on the system. He writes on his website of “weaponized regulations crafted by lobbyists.” What he often fails to disclose is the monumental amounts of money funneled to him and his political allies by corporate sponsors. In the 2019-2020 cycle, he received more than  $35,000 from various gas and oil companies like ExxonMobil, the Koch Foundation and Valero Energy — companies notorious for trying to gut environmental regulations. Furthermore, of the more than $600,000 he received last election cycle from Super PACs, more than 80 percent of the contributions came from big business. Some Super PACs, however, demonstrate Riggleman’s self-serving nature far better.

One such Super PAC — the Restoring Economic Fundamentals PAC — lists Riggleman as the person of contact. This PAC gave Riggleman thousands between various elections. While it is not unusual for a candidate to have their own PAC, some of its expenditures are highly problematic. Riggleman, who owns his own distillery, sponsored the PAC in various regulation-cutting bills. Some of the bills sponsored by REF would increase amounts of alcohol served, increase commissions paid to distillers and reduce regulations on distilleries. His own Super PAC was used in an attempt to reduce regulations on the business from which his family still profits. 

Other than his personal finance issues, Riggleman presents a host of problems with his voting history in Congress. Many of his votes go against his stated policies on various issues. For example, he voted against Medicaid protections and a bill disapproving of President Trump’s Medicaid policies while claiming that he continued to support government healthcare protections. Furthermore, he supports Trump’s position in 94.1 percent of votes according to pollster website FiveThirtyEight. Some of these votes present disastrous policy choices. In one contentious vote, he sided against sending relief to Puerto Rico — which is still recovering from a disastrous hurricane from two years ago largely because aid has been stalled by Trump. He also continuously supported Trump’s border policies with Mexico, while also rejecting humanitarian aid to those being most hit at the southern border. 

Riggleman tries to portray himself as a middle-of-the-road Republican who is willing to work with whoever to get things done, but has proven through his votes that his loyalty lies with his party rather than his constituents.

Moreover, his arguments against the impeachment of the president were ludicrous. He denounced the process as “partisan” and held the US Mexico and Canada Agreement as a major reason not to impeach Trump — a deal that has been evaluated by many economists as a weakened version of NAFTA that will harm American exports. Throughout the whole process, Riggleman ignored every fact presented to him in various hearings. He even tried criticizing the amount of money spent on impeachment — which was estimated to be $3 million — while staying completely silent over the $20 million of government spending used at Trump properties.

While Riggleman presents himself as a moderate Republican and working man in favor of bipartisan cooperation and against corporate money in politics, he consistently votes with the entirety of the Republican block in Congress and decries bipartisan work. In addition, his campaign takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporate sponsors and votes with them. He accepts money from major oil firms and consistently votes the way they want. He accepts money from major banks and votes against consumer protections that are vital for the economy. In his time in Congress, he has voted as a self-serving Republican while masquerading as a “moderate.” It’s time for him to go. 

Jeremy Siegel is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.

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