The following statement is from Progress Virginia. I completely agree that while the General Assembly made some progress here, there is a loooooooong way to go. I also completely agree that: a) it’s unfortunate/unacceptable that “both bodies have rejected establishing an independent ethics commission to enhance public trust in government by providing real oversight and enforcement;” and b) “we could not be more disappointed with remarks from legislators on both sides of the aisle this afternoon, insinuating ethics reform is unnecessary.” On “b,” I’d point particularly at Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Dominion), who has repeatedly expressed his contempt for the very IDEA of ethics laws, reform, etc. For that reason alone, Saslaw should not be a State Senator, let alone Minority Leader. I mean, seriously, WTF?
ProgressVA Statement on House and Senate Passage Of Ethics Proposals
Richmond, VA – ProgressVA released the following statement from executive director Anna Scholl in response to House and Senate passage of ethics legislation.
“We commend members of the General Assembly for taking important steps forward to close the outrageous gift loopholes that allow any elected official to accept unlimited free vacations and junkets. However, we continue to believe that real ethics reform must include oversight and accountability. Unfortunately, both bodies have rejected establishing an independent ethics commission to enhance public trust in government by providing real oversight and enforcement. A toothless ethics council that still allows legislators to police themselves is insufficient for restoring public confidence in government.
“Additionally, we could not be more disappointed with remarks from legislators on both sides of the aisle this afternoon, insinuating ethics reform is unnecessary. Public trust in government and our elected officials is of the upmost importance and Virginians should have no doubt that legislators are working on our behalf. Recent events, including the high profile felony conviction of former Governor Bob McDonnell, undermine public integrity. While members of the General Assembly may not have broken our trust, by virtue of their position they bear responsibility for earning it back. When it comes to public trust and government ethics, perception is as important as reality. “Just trust us” is no longer an acceptable option. Serious ethics reform is necessary to reassure Virginians that those individuals we have trusted with vast responsibility are beyond reproach, so they may return their focus to advancing a Virginia that works for everyone.”