Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 21, 2013

Scandal turns up heat on Va. ethics reform


Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — It takes major events sometimes to change Virginia law. And, as serious as the scandals gripping Gov. Bob McDonnell are, they may be insufficient to radically alter Virginia public ethics laws rated among America’s weakest.

Nearly daily disclosures about Virginia’s First Family accepting thousands of unreported dollars’ worth of gifts have ratcheted up the calls among legislators and statewide candidates for reform. But they disagree on how.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe supports a ban on gifts over $100 to state officials. Republican Ken Cuccinelli backs fast reporting of gifts exceeding $500, simpler disclosure forms and ending the reporting exemption for officeholders’ families.

James Madison University ethics law expert and political scientist Robert Roberts doubts that much will change unless the McDonnells’ scandal gets far worse.