Virginia politicians frequently point out how much better Richmond functions than Washington, D.C. One area where DC has a leg up, however? Ethics rules.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the District of Columbia’s ethics board has fined Council Member Marion Barry $13,600 for accepting illegal and unethical gifts. Barry was sanctioned with a fine equal to double the amount of the gifts he received. (Washington Post, July 11, 2013)
Earlier this week, the Washington Post also reported that Governor Bob McDonnell and his family have now received, directly and indirectly, at least $145,000 from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Star Scientific not only has an ongoing tax lawsuit versus the state of Virginia, but Governor McDonnell and his wife have also been major supporters of the company, a relationship for which McDonnell is currently under federal investigation. (Washington Post, July 9, 2013)
If Governor McDonnell was held to the same ethical standard as DC City Council Member Marion Barry, McDonnell’s fine of double the gifts he has allegedly received would equal $290,000. Maybe it’s time for Virginia politicians to take that whole “we’re better than D.C.” line to heart and take ethics reform seriously.