From Progress Virginia…what a pathetic farce. I hate to be cynical, but is exactly what I predicted would happen. Ugh.
Richmond, VA – The Virginia Senate this afternoon passed SB649 39-1, the omnibus "ethics reform" legislation that doesn't include any real reform. Prior to passage, the members rejected an amendment from Senator Adam Ebbin to reign in expensive recreational trips with no educational value paid for by special interests. The bill maintains an absurd distinction between tangible and intangible gifts while only prohibiting "tangible" gifts over $250 from registered lobbyists.
"The members of the Senate should be embarrassed that after the last year's ethics scandals, the best they can do is absolutely nothing," said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. "Not only can legislators continue to accept unlimited gifts from almost any source, but they continue to solicit those gifts. Private citizens aren't routinely offered free trips to France or Sea World or Redskins games and that shouldn't be a perk of public office either."
In a report last month, ProgressVA Education Fund evaluated all 2012 gifts under the "restrictions" in the omnibus bill and found virtually no gifts would be prohibited under this proposal. Only gifts from registered lobbyists are prohibited under this proposal, even though no lobbyists provided gifts in 2012. Under the proposal, none of the gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams to Governor Bob McDonnell would be banned.