RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Governor took his first step toward Reforming Virginia's government, but not without some controversy over the man tapped to lead the effort.
Fred Malek is a longtime Republican donor and wealthy businessman. He is the governor's choice to lead an in-depth look into how government is run. But democrats say his past is too much of a distraction.
As the members of the bi-partisan commission gathered for the first time, Malek took his seat in front. The Governor said despite the protests, his spot at the table won't be taken away.
"I'm here to get things done and get reforms done," said McDonnell "Not to engage in partisan rhetoric."
Malek has been the source of constant Democratic criticism over his past in the Nixon Administration, tracking Jewish people and his company's role in a pension fund in Connecticut that forced him to pay a heavy fine.
McDonnell said Malek has explained his actions and that past is in the past.
"He is the right guy to help to lead us," said McDonnell.
If this commission goes as planned, it could have a real impact on the way government operates. That is one of the main reasons, Democrats are calling for him to step down.
"The fact remains that Connecticut state pension fund was misused and he had to pay a quarter of a million dollars in fines because of that," said Henrico State Senator Donald McEachin.
McEachin supports the idea of the commission and said he will wait to see what it produces. Several democrats have agreed to be apart of this reform effort, despite Malek's role Something McEachin said he wouldn't do.
"Yeah, I wouldn't serve on that commission with Fred Malek as the head," McEachin said.
McDonnell contends he won't let politics get in the way of the Commission's important work.
"Those Democrats that just want to complain and aren't interested in government reform and just want to complain and don't want to get things done, I'd tell them stay out of the way," McDonnell said.
Meaning he will stand buy his man until their work is complete.
Malek spoke to reporters after the meeting and called his work with President Nixon, "the biggest mistake of his life."
The commission will release their initial findings to the Governor at the end of August. Their final recommendations must be submitted by the beginning of December.
**You can see Governor McDonnell's and Fred Malek's extended comments on the issue by visiting our political blog: DecisionVirginia.com