Youngkin, who will take office Jan. 15, announced only three other Cabinet picks. They are Stephen Emery Cummings, an investment banker, and Aimee Rogstad Guira, a national expert on data use in education policy and a consultant, for finance secretary. Caren Merrick, a Northern Virginia business executive, is for commerce secretary.
Youngkin has additional Cabinet picks to make. Outgoing Governor. Ralph Northam (D), who was not allowed to seek consecutive terms under the state constitution has a 15-member cabinet.
Cullen's selection could indicate that Youngkin doesn't intend to disrupt "politics as normal" in a state that has long been known for its close ties between business and government.
Cullen was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia between 1991 and 1994. According to his McGuireWoods biography, Bush. From 1997 to 1998, he was Virginia's attorney-general, succeeding Republican Jim Gilmore who had retired to run for governor.
Cullen was a member of President George W. Bush’s legal team during the recount in Florida 2000. He has also worked with Virginia governors from both sides of the aisle. Cullen helped Democrat L. Douglas Wilder gain support for legislation limiting handgun purchase to one per month, and he assisted Republican George Allen with plans for abolishing parole for violent offenders.
Then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), reached out to Cullen as federal investigators began probing the relationship between Cullen and his wife, a Richmond businessman, and the couple. He had lavished them with $177,000 worth of luxury vacations, gifts, and sweetheart loans. Cullen was forced to reject the governor in this case. Jonnie R. Williams Sr. had already retained him.
Williams, who was granted broad immunity, testified against McDonnells and helped prosecutors convict McDonnell, his wife Maureen, for public corruption. McDonnell was acquitted by the Supreme Court and prosecutors decided not to retry him.
Cullen was hired by Pence in 2017 to represent him in congressional committee inquiries as well as the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign team and Russia.
Cullen, two years later, led an investigation for Eastern Virginia Medical School into the racist photo that Northam had placed on his 1984 yearbook page. Northam almost resigned in the wake of the photo that showed one person wearing blackface and another in a Klan hood. It was discovered in early 2019. Although Northam initially apologized for his appearance in the photo, he changed his mind the next day and said that he did not know anything about it. He had also taken responsibility for the scandal under pressure.
Cullen stated that after four months of investigation, investigators were unable to determine if Northam was in the photograph.