Home Virginia Politics E.W. Jackson and Dick Saslaw on Ethics Reform: What’s the Difference?

E.W. Jackson and Dick Saslaw on Ethics Reform: What’s the Difference?


Short answer: none.

Exhibit A: E.W. Jackson argues we don’t need more/strong ethics laws, we just need people to be ethical. Uh huh….

Exhibit B: Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) says basically the same thing in the Washington Post, demonstrating that he loves his perks, doesn’t have any appetite to get rid of them (nor do most members of the General Assembly), and either completely misunderstands human nature and the nature of the problem here, or, much more likely, is being disingenuous…

The absurdity is, you can’t legislate ethics,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “Either you’re dishonest or you’re not, okay? It’s more window dressing. It’s an attempt to deal with stuff, maybe tighten up a few things here or there.”

Saslaw said that states with strict laws on the flow of money in politics are still vulnerable to human nature, just as laws against murder and embezzlement don’t stop bad acts. And despite the McDonnell scandal, and the nine-year prison sentence given to a former ranking member of the House of Delegates in 2011 on bribery and extortion charges, he said Virginia’s record remains strong.

Of course, it’s utterly absurd to make a black-and-white statement like “Either you’re dishonest or you’re not, okay?” But since I don’t think Dick Saslaw is an idiot, with no understanding of human nature (his black-and-white view is childish and laughable), I must assume that he’s simply being disingenous here, since he has ZERO – nada, zilch, etc. – desire for real ethics reform and enforcement in Richmond. Why would he give up his corporate/lobbyist-funded dinners, Homestead retreats, trips, golf games, etc, etc. if he doesn’t have to?

P.S. Is Saslaw seriously arguing that just because laws against murder and embezzlement don’t stop those things 100% of the time, we don’t need them? We just need people to not want to murder or embezzle? Again, two choices: a) Dick Saslaw is an imbecile; b) Dick Saslaw is being wildly disingenous, dishonest, etc.

  • which reminds me of Saslaw:

    “If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of sh*t. And I’d like to get as many of them out in the open as possible. You gotta get together and tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe just to get through the goddamn day? What’s that say about your reality?”

  • Jackson also already broke ethics/campaign finance law by not reporting a loan  

  • kindler

    Saslaw just needs to retire or be retired.  He is one of the most prominent faces of the VA Democratic Party, and he continues to use that position to embarrass us.

    Of course we need ethics laws, the only people who argue against them are the ones who’ve spent too much time chowing down hors d’ouevres supplied by industry lobbyists.  

    The party dishonors itself by staying loyal to people like Saslaw.  I’d be happy to see an uprising where somebody like McEachin or Chap steps up to challenge Saslaw for Senate leadership.  Patiently waiting for the Old Guard to step down when they feel like it is not a strategy for the party to become a leading edge force.   We need to move, and leave the dinosaurs behind.  

  • va_lady2008

    Jaw dropping, and from someone who has been around forever, trumpets the “Virginia way” which has proven dazzlingly easy to take advantage of, and likely has done so himself.

    Therefore: since we can’t legislate ethics (and the case of Governor Roles, who presumably took at least one ethics class makes it clear you cannot) then you need laws, with teeth, prosecution, and imprisonment on conviction.

    No more namby pamby $20 fines.  Jail time.  Felony conviction, which here in the Old Dominion means you also lose your right to vote.