January 7, 2014 9:26 am -

Bob McDonnellRegular Liberaland readers will recognize the name Bob McDonnell, the disgraced former Virginia governor whose tenure was tainted by a scandal involving the receipt of over $160,000 in gifts and loans from a political contributor. As McDonnell still faces the real possibility of indictment, the state’s House of Delegates has moved to tighten ethics rules:

The reforms, a legislative outgrowth of the ongoing gift investigations of Gov. Bob McDonnell, include:

–Prohibiting elected officials from soliciting gifts and placing a $250 limit on the amount of gifts they can receive from lobbyists and individuals with business interests before the state.

–Requiring the reporting of gifts to elected officials’ spouses and immediate family members, while clarifying definitions on gifts that can be received from personal friends.

–Requiring elected officials to file financial disclosure forms twice a year, on a schedule that is synchronized with the filing requirements of lobbyists and lawmakers.

–Establishing a “State Ethics Advisory Commission” of legislator and citizen appointees to oversee Virginia’s disclosure system, and put all disclosure forms online.

“While we recognize the difficulty in legislating ethical behavior among elected officials, we believe it is important to set clear standards of conduct that the public can understand, and that we should sanction those who violate the public trust,” Republican Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and Democratic Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, write in an opinion column in Tuesday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“The citizens of Virginia demand nothing less.”

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.