Minutes after Virginia state Sen. Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. (D-Fairfax) succeeded in killing the most talked-about bill of the 1986 legislative session, he was mobbed by reporters shouting questions and by colleagues pumping his hand in congratulations.
Gartlan, a Washington lawyer and a member of the Senate since 1972, had just outwitted the powerful speaker of the House of Delegates and undermined the reluctant leadership of the Senate with a parliamentary move that effectively killed a bill that would have weakened the state's conflict-of-interest law.
As Gartlan stepped out of the Senate chambers the big winner, across the Capitol in the House chambers the big loser stood behind the speaker's podium with a dark scowl on his face.
Speaker A.L. Philpott, a Henry County Democrat, isn't used to losing, especially when he puts his full power and reputation behind legislation. This year, after overseeing the massive rewriting of the state's ethics code and uncompromisingly and unashamedly shepherding it through the General Assembly, he lost big.
The measure, killed in a dramatic vote in the Senate Monday, had angered many newspaper editorial writers and the public with provisions that would have exempted legislators and some local officials from criminal prosecution for violation of the conflict-of-interest law. Philpott had supported those changes.
There were other winners and losers in this battle that consumed much of the 1986 General Assembly. Among the winners were: Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax) and other Republicans who led the charge against the Democratic House leadership and started the momentum that gave Gartlan the edge he needed to defeat the measure in the Senate.
"If we accept this, we will be pounding another nail in the coffin of the esteem of our legislative body," Callahan said in a floor speech against the diluted ethics measure. Del. Mary A. Marshall (D-Arlington), one of the first Democrats to take a tough stand against efforts to weaken the conflict law, and one of the most vocal of the Democrats who finally defected from their leadership and began the push that led to the death of the bill. Sen. Clive L. DuVal II (D-Fairfax), who spent much of last weekend calling his colleagues and rounding up support for Gartlan's Monday morning move. DuVal said his only disappointment about the Senate's action in striking the measure from its calendar was that he didn't get a chance to make a floor speech saying passage of the measure would give legislators a reputation as "sleazy solons."
There is a long list of people who join Philpott as losers: Del. Theodore V. Morrison Jr. (D-Newport News), the acerbic lawyer who served as the floor leader on the bill that ballooned from minor alterations in the existing law to a major revision of the entire conflict act. Del. Clinton Miller (R-Shenandoah), who verbally assaulted the news media throughout debates on the conflict issue, accusing the Richmond press corps of having a "Ferdinand Marcos sense of fairness." After the Senate defeat of the measure, he remarked dourly, "I'm not going to talk to the press until this session is over." State Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, who the Richmond Times-Dispatch labeled "The Invisible Woman" for her role in the controversy. While the General Assembly was hotly debating the constitutional issues surrounding the state conflict law, the state's chief legal adviser never addressed the issue. A.E. Dick Howard, the respected legal professor at the University of Virginia Law School, who gave Philpott and Morrison the legal basis they wanted to assault the conflict law. While questioning the constitutionality of the existing conflict law, he failed to address a section of the State Constitution that provides the legal basis for the law.
The awards for undistinguished service go to Gov. Gerald L. Baliles and Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. Baliles, who wrote the existing law and told reporters that he saw nothing wrong with it, never entered the legislative fray to put muscle behind his statements.
And Wilder, in the first tie-breaking vote of his tenure as lieutenant governor, sided with proponents of a weak ethics law.
Senators voting in favor of striking the conflict bill from the calendar were:
Howard P. Anderson (D-Halifax), Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton), A. Joe Canada Jr. (R-Virginia Beach), John H. Chichester (R-Stafford), Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), Elmo G. Cross Jr. (D-Hanover), DuVal, William E. Fears (D-Accomack), Gartlan, Virgil H. Goode Jr. (D-Franklin), Elmon T. Gray (D-Sussex), Edward M. Holland (D-Arlington), R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania), James P. Jones (D-Washington), Madison E. Marye (D-Montgomery), Thomas J. Michie Jr. (D-Albemarle), Kevin G. Miller (R-Rockingham), Wiley F. Mitchell Jr. (R-Alexandria), Frank W. Nolen (D-Augusta), William F. Parkerson Jr. (D-Henrico), John W. Russell (R-Fairfax City), Robert E. Russell (R-Chesterfield), Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Elliot S. Schewel (D-Lynchburg), Robert C. Scott (D-Newport News), Willian A. Truban (R-Shenandoah), Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun), Edward E. Willey (D-Richmond).
Senators opposed to striking the bill were:
Onico W. Barker (R-Danville), Daniel W. Bird Jr. (D-Wythe), John C. Buchanan (D-Wise), Dudley J. Emick (D-Botetourt), Clarence A. Holland (D-Virginia Beach), Richard J. Holland (D-Isle of Wight), Johnny S. Joannou (D-Portsmouth), Benjamin Lambert (D-Richmond), J. Granger MacFarlane (D-Roanoke), William T. Parker (D-Chesapeake), Stanley C. Walker (D-Norfolk.)
Peter K. Babalas (D-Norfolk) abstained.