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LTE: Lawmaker, Silence Is Consent on Ethics in the General Assembly

An Ashburn man wonders when more GOP leaders will speak out on McDonnell investigation.

An Ashburn residents wonders when leaders will speak out about ethics scandal in Virginia.
An Ashburn residents wonders when leaders will speak out about ethics scandal in Virginia.

Dear Editor,

There is something rotten in the city of Richmond- the recent indictment of former Governor Bob McDonnell has left a nasty stain on our state government. I know that many Virginia residents, including myself, are outraged at McDonnell’s egregious violation of the public trust. Yet for some reason, some of our most senior elected officials have been uncharacteristically silent on the matter. Congressman Frank Wolf has never been shy about criticizing public agencies like the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA.) Yet on the issue of ethics in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he is silent. Why was Congressman Wolf so outspoken about a quasi-governmental agency and unpaid board members, but not about paid public servants that are using our tax dollars and receiving lavish gifts and luxuries while holding public office? Why hasn’t he said anything about our current “anything goes” political culture that allows elected officials and their families to accept $165,000 worth of clothes, watches, shoes and luxury weekend getaways? In addition, why hasn’t Wolf’s protégé, Barbara Comstock, had anything to say about the swamp that has become the Virginia legislature? Why hasn’t Ms. Comstock said anything about the fact that Gov. McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli billed Virginia taxpayers over $500,000 in attorney’s fees defending their corrupt activities? This silence on the part of prominent elected officials in Virginia is totally unacceptable.

The voters of Virginia are disgusted with the current culture of corruption in Richmond. The Virginia legislature needs to pass comprehensive ethics reform in this legislative session. Delegate Scott Surovell has recently announced that he will be introducing legislation for consideration by the General Assembly designed to close loopholes in Virginia’s current ethics laws. Surovell’s legislation prevents the Governor from having special contracts with agency heads while they are serving in office. In addition, the legislation prohibits acceptance by the Governor or Attorney General of campaign contributions or gifts worth more than $50 from parties who are in ongoing litigation with the Commonwealth and also prohibits litigants from making such contributions and gifts. The legislation places a cap of $1,235 on outside attorney fees, and limits the use of public assets for private or personal purposes unrelated to official duties or any other legitimate government interest.

Virginia must begin to move forward with meaningful ethics reform and provide the transparency necessary to ensure accountability from our elected officials. If the legislators in Richmond refuse to pass comprehensive ethic reform, then we the people of Virginia must hold them accountable at the ballot box.

Dave Allison
Ashburn, VA

Kathy Keith January 24, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Mr. Smith, Before you attack Congressman Wolf and Ms. Comstock on an incident that did not involve either of them, how about let's talk about our new governor. Were you so quick to condemn his activity prior to his election? How about renting out the Lincoln bedroom to party donors? Is that ethical? Using political connections and who knows what else to secure visas for his car company employees? Is that ethical? Promising Franklin, VA to locate his company there--then moving to Mississippi. Is that ethical? etc. etc. You wrote a letter to the editor because Wolf and Comstock have not made public statements? Really? How about McAuliffe's nominee to be Secretary of the Commonwealth? That office is in charge of elections and voting--yet the nominee was charged with an election crime in Minnesota--something to do with slashing tires of a Republican GOTV van........Is that a good choice for such an office? And, it is very interesting that he is giving Boyd Marcus a very well paying board job on the ABC board--nice payback for crossing party lines. No question. We need ethics in Virginia. McDonnell sold our his supporters and the people of Virginia and is being charged. A court will decide his guilt--no question his behavior was inappropriate and wrong. The question is, do you really expect good ethics from our new governor? His past does not predict it.
Kathy Keith January 24, 2014 at 07:54 PM
p.s. My comment above was addressed to the editor instead of the letter writer. I should have addressed it to Mr. Allison. I apologize to Mr. Smith.
Dan M January 26, 2014 at 08:46 AM
If the new governor were unethical, that would be all the more reason to speak out for ethics reforms as Mr. Allison is suggesting. Nothing in his comments excuses anything done by any elected official, Democratic or Republican. Ethics should be a bipartisan issue. Mr. Allison simply points out that Mr. Wolf and Ms. Comstock are being hypocritical in complaining about potential corruption when they don't support a given position, but are silent when the official in question supports their ideology. In effect, they're saying that it's OK to cheat as long as it supports their position. Not cool!

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