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Del. Surovell Introduces 5 Ethics & Government Reform Bills Responding to 2013 Virginia Scandals

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Great stuff from Del. Surovell: 

SUROVELL INTRODUCES FIVE ETHICS AND GOVERNMENT REFORM BILLS RESPONDING TO VARIOUS 2013 CORRUPTION SCANDALS

 

Mt. Vernon, Virginia – Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44) is pleased to announce he is introducing five bills for consideration by the General Assembly designed to close loopholes identified by ethics abuses identified during 2013. 

 

·         HB 245: Banning Economic Ties With Appointees (Chief Patron)On July 18, 2013, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Governor McDonnell had rented his $800,000 Henrico County home to the state health commissioner who he appointed, an obvious conflict of interest that could impact his decisions if he needed to replace the commissioner.  This bill prevents the Governor from having special contracts with appointed Secretary or agency heads while they are serving in office.  

·         HB 246: No Gifts or Contributions During Litigation:  The Washington Post and other newspapers reported that Jonnie Williams provided gifts to Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli at the same time his company was in litigation with the Commonwealth of Virginia over a tax dispute.  HB246 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. 

·         HB 247: Ensuring Level Field for Governor’s Opportunity Fund Grants (Chief Patron): In April, 2010, Northrup Grumman announced that it was moving its corporate headquarters to Northern Virginia in part, after it received $3 million in incentives from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.  Similar deals were announced with Hilton Worldwide ($1 million) and SAIC ($1.5 million).  Northrup Grumman has donated over $100,000 to statewide candidates since 2009Hilton Worldwide over $90,000 since 2009, and SAIC over $25,000

On average, Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant recipients since 2009 who had histories of contributing to statewide candidates received grants twice as large as entities that did not contribute (Contact Delegate Surovell’s Office to request data).

 

This legislation prohibits the Governor, his campaign committee or any associated political action committees from soliciting or accepting contributions or gifts greater than $50 from corporations seeking loans or grants from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund.  

 

·         HB 248: Assuring Equity in Charges for Special Counsel (Chief Patron)In response to the Richmond Times-Dispatch report that Gov. McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli billed taxpayers at least $570,000 and counting in attorney’s fees defending their corrupt activities. This bill would cap outside attorneys fees at $1,235, the fee for a court-appointed attorney defending someone charged with a felony punishable by over 20 years in jail. 

·         HB 252: Preventing Use of Public Assets in Political Activities (Chief Patron)This bill limits the use of public assets for private or personal purposes unrelated to official duties or any other legitimate government interest. This is in response to Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio who was accused by a former staff aide of using his county office to benefit his political campaign.  In that case, the Grand Jury empanelled to consider criminal charges against Supervisor Delgaudio issued a report specifically recommending that § 18.2-112 be amended to prohibit part-time government employees from misusing state assets in addition to full-time employees.

Earlier in 2013, the media reported that Governor Bob McDonnell accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of “gifts” and loans from Jonnie Williams.  “The last twelve months have highlighted some glaring loopholes in Virginia Law that need be closed immediately to help restore Virginians’ faith in their government,” said Delegate Surovell. 

 

With these changes, Virginia can start to move toward meaningful ethics reform and provide the transparency necessary to ensure accountability from our elected officials.