Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
In an earlier column, I explained why Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s willingness to use a $15,000 gift from a Virginia businessman to pay for food at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding was a serious lapse of ethical judgment — regardless whether the failure to report that gift violated Virginia’s notoriously lax conflict of interest laws.
Under existing Virginia law, public officials are allowed to accept gifts of any value (even $1 million!), provided only that they disclose gifts valued at more than $50. McDonnell has attempted to defend himself with respect to his failure to disclose the $15,000 gift on the grounds that the gift was to his daughter, not to him.
Little did I realize when I wrote that earlier column that Governor McDonnell and his family also have been guilty of a significant number of other bewildering and inexcusable ethical lapses involving charging Virginia taxpayers for various personal expenses. Those expenses included dog vitamins, sunscreen, body wash, nasal spray, sleep inducing elixirs, and a “digestive system detox cleanse.”
The dollar amounts of money improperly charged to taxpayers for these personal items do not appear to be of the same magnitude as the earlier $15,000 gift, but the insensitive and tone-deaf mindset revealed by these charges is even more troubling.
Regardless whether “it’s against the law,” elected officials have an obligation to set an example for the public by adhering to the highest standards of ethical behavior. They should be asking themselves this question: “if this is made public, what is the average person likely to say?”
If the average person is likely to say the behavior is wrong, then that same person will be justifiably unimpressed by an elected official’s defense that what was done “isn’t illegal in Virginia” or “is okay because the money I received was less than [insert dollar amount that triggers some legal liability.]”
When elected officials are in a position to grant public benefits to a private person or company, they just shouldn’t accept gifts from that person or company beyond some token amount (say, $50 or $100). Nor should they enter into any contractual relationship with that person or company — period.
Just because Virginia law says it’s legal, it doesn’t make it right.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
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Synetic Theater Camps are a wildly fun, highly accessible choice for young people who love moving, playing games, and making memories. Registration is open now for Summer Camps (sessions June 20-August 25) and there are even a few spots left for Spring Break camp, April 3-7.
Located in National Landing, these performance-based camps are designed for students of all ages – no theater or performance experience required.
Led by professional teaching artists, campers learn acting, movement, and technical theater skills through the lens of Physical Theater. Physical Theater incorporates acting, movement, dance, mime, and acrobatics. If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, you’ll find many similarities.
Most first-time campers are new to the performing arts, and teaching artists are well-versed in engaging students at all levels. Parents and campers report that one of the best parts of Synetic is the community, with many families returning year after year because they feel a strong sense of belonging.
EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.
The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.
Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.
“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and
District 27 Toastmasters 2023 Virtual Conference
District 27 Toastmasters invites you to its annual conference where you can hear phenomenal speakers, attend professional development and personal growth seminars about leadership, negotiation, communication, teamwork, and mentorship. Learn how to develop your personal story and how to improve