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Cuccinelli Changes Course on Bare-Breasted State Seal

By: Mark Tenia Email
By: Mark Tenia Email

May 3, 2010

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is changing the state seal in order to keep the depiction of an exposed breast under wraps.

The Virginia seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder with her left breast exposed. Cuccinelli is opting for a more modest version of the seal, recently handing out to his staff lapel pins with her bosom covered by an armored breastplate.

It's a relatively minor gesture, but Cuccinelli is receiving some criticism for the move, saying he's opening himself up to be ridiculed.

Cuccinelli has been the center of controversy several times since taking office in January, including an appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show in March after advising state colleges and universities that they lack the legal authority to protect gay employees from discrimination.

Political analysts say fair or not, it could harm Cuccinelli and Republicans if he doesn't get the media to refocus its attention on what he's doing in office.

"Really, the potential danger here for Ken Cuccinelli is that all these news stories are being written about things other than his real priorities, what he's come into office saying he's going to do," said Isaac Wood of the UVa. Center for Politics. "People are going to read about this, and they're going to say, 'Oh that's what Ken Cuccinelli does.'"

Cuccinelli's office said the seal merely "hearkens back to an older version of the seal." Wood says while the move may appeal to Cuccinelli's base, it may cause concern to moderates across the commonwealth.

Cuccinelli has since taken back the pins, saying they served as a distraction. The Seal of the Commonwealth is a two-sided image that dates back to 1776.

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