House Speaker William J, Howell (R-Stafford) said he was saddened by the conviction of former Del. Phillip A. Hamilton. Here’s his full statement released late Wednesday night:

“Like everyone who values Virginia’s reputation for honest government, I am saddened that a federal jury in Richmond this afternoon found former Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton guilty of bribery and extortion for actions he took a number of years ago as Vice-Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. In the summer of 2009, I acted to protect the institutional integrity of the Virginia House of Delegates when I initiated a legislative inquiry into what struck many of us as possible violations of the Commonwealth’s Conflict of Interest Act by then-Delegate Hamilton. The House Ethics Panel ended its inquiry after he lost his re-election bid because it lacked statutory jurisdiction following his resignation from the Virginia House of Delegates on November 15, 2009. It is good for all who care about good government that the facts ultimately were determined, the actions impartially reviewed and this matter finally resolved.

“Appropriate ethical conduct by state lawmakers is vital to ensuring trust in government for those elected to represent and serve the public. Today’s verdict underscores the seriousness with which I and others viewed the offenses for which former Delegate Hamilton now has been found guilty. No matter the issue or individual, how any public official performs his or her governmental duties must be above reproach and unquestionably within the bounds of law.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace let alone tolerated in Virginia. We long have had a reputation for good government and today’s jury verdict demonstrates that Virginians intend to keep it that way.”