Join Club

Peter’s Take: Why is Virginia’s Legislature Ethically Challenged?

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.

Peter RousselotLast month, I wrote a column explaining why Virginia needs effective ethics reform. The Virginia legislature has adjourned without enacting it.

Why is this so hard for them? It’s because too many Republican and Democratic legislators continue to thumb their noses at the need for reform.

Here’s a small sampling of the attitudes they bring to the task:

Contrary to Senator Saslaw, ordinary citizens do believe you can legislate ethics. Saslaw’s variation on the discredited refrain, “you can’t legislate morality”, misses the point. Here’s Princeton University’s Micah Watson in a piece titled “Why we can’t not legislate morality.”

One can no more avoid legislating morality than one can speak without syntax. One cannot sever morality from the law. Even partisans of the most spartan libertarian conception of the state would themselves employ state power to enforce their vision of the common good…The real question is not whether the political community will legislate morality; the question is which vision of morality will be enforced…

Many other states have passed much tougher ethics laws than Virginia. That further undermines what our legislators have just done.

The 49-page ethics bill that the legislature passed at the eleventh hour of the session includes a whole host of loopholes, including:

  • The current ethics law sets a cumulative annual aggregate $250 cap on gifts by a lobbyist to any single legislator. But, unbelievably, the new ethics bill’s $100 cap is not cumulative. That means that a lobbyist can give an unlimited number of $99 contributions to a single legislator during the year, so long as each gift is given at a different point in time. Example: $99 per day for each of 365 days per year = $36,135 of legal gifts to any Virginia legislator (Call it the “buy your own Rolex” provision).
  • A lobbyist can pay the full cost to fly a legislator from any location in Virginia to Richmond — so long as the purpose of the trip is official business. The cost of the trip is not counted against the $100 cap.
  • The bill fails to establish an Ethics Commission with the power to issue subpoenas, assess fines for violations, and make referrals to the Attorney General or other prosecutors.

Conclusion

Those politicians who say they are proud of this latest ethics bill are deluding themselves and the public.

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.

Recent Stories

Police and medics have been dispatched to Wakefield High School at least twice for students experiencing suspected substance abuse-related issues since Tuesday’s fatal overdose. The dispatches seem to point to…

A pair of suspects, armed with a knife and a gun, robbed a man along Columbia Pike early Sunday, prompting an aerial search. The robbery was reported just after 2:30…

The CEO of Eastern Foundry, an incubator for government contractors, pivoted after the coworking industry busted due to Covid and the demise of WeWork to provide online education for startups.

Nearly all land development permits that Arlington County issues are now online. Following the launch of the online Permit Arlington in 2019 with 18 digitized permits, county staff have since…

Its February and you said you would start your journey to a healthier you, last month! If you are struggling and do not know how or what to do to get started, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post-Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.

If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible to ensure your success. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s get started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience:

https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact

Submit your own Announcement here.

YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers — open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.

Middle School

In the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.

High School

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list