Everyone has an ethics reform proposal in Va.

August 6, 2013

Ethics and gifting. They are all the rage in Virginia politics now. Editorial pages are calling for reforms. Ken Cuccinelli has asked Gov. Robert McDonnell to convene a special legislative session on ethics reform, but the governor prefers to wait for the next regular session in January. House Republican leaders have laid out their ideas for reform, and Chris Saxman has put a proposal on the table to ban gifts entirely and tighten reporting requirements. Bill Bolling has released a laundry list of reform ideas.

With all this talk, something, at some point, will be done. And with revelations that Virginia’s alcohol control agency has a possible gift problem of its own, it’s clear that whatever reforms are discussed have to address the entire apparatus of state government.

What will those reforms be?

My occasional writing partner Paul Goldman thinks it’s a matter of closing loopholes. No need for an ethics commission, Paul says. And for self-described conservatives to embrace the idea of yet another rule-making government agency? Forget it (and what are they thinking?).

Maybe closing the loopholes, as Paul suggests, is enough. Tighten the reporting requirements, too, as Chris suggests, and start negotiations with an outright ban of gifts. But wait until January to begin the discussion? That’s absurd. Any proposals the governor would make for a regular session’s consideration would be largely irrelevant. He’s out of office, so his leverage over those ideas is zero. It’s a budget year, too, which will consume a great deal of the General Assembly’s time and energy.

[Continue reading Norman Leahy’s post at Bearing Drift.]

Norman Leahy blogs at Bearing Drift. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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Michael Larabee · August 6, 2013