Given the consistent failure in Richmond to address ethics reform in a substantive manner, those of us concerned about transparency and corruption should applaud the work of the Governor’s Ethics Commission.
I care not for the partisan reasons behind failed ethics reform, or for the partisan reasons behind appointment of the Ethics Commission. In what is likely just an accident as they come from the McAuliffe administration, the recommendations of the Commission all warrant consideration.
A draft of the recommendations has been released. Once finalized the Commission will disband, and the General Assembly and the Governor can go back to pretending they have addressed ethics reform.
Banning use of campaign funds for personal use
This seems like common sense, albeit the devil is in the details. Reimbursements for campaign related uses of personal items (like vehicles) should be allowed. Notice I did not suggest purchase of vehicles, just use.
Banning fundraising during special sessions
This might be a partisan attack as the G.A. is marginally controlled by Republicans who insist the G.A. is perpetually in session. Nonetheless, what goes around comes around. There has to be a way to do this without banning fundraising when the G.A. is in session pro forma.
Increasing compensation of the legislature
Other people have stronger views on this than I do. The legislature is underpaid, but then again they know what they signed up for. I agree there definitely should be a separate fund for expenses/staff that can not be pocketed by the legislator.
Measures to increase the transparency and non-partisan nature of judicial selection
As someone who has participated in the Fairfax system that is being promoted as a model for the rest of the Commonwealth I fully support this. Additionally, the public may not be aware, but there was a judicial evaluation program where attorneys could anonymously evaluate the Judges before whom they practice. This system was ended a few years ago and has just been revived. This system is critical for evaluating reappointment of Judges. The results should be available to members of the legislature.
Align budget cycle to gubernatorial elections
I understand an incoming Governor may not be prepared to step right in with new budget priorities upon election, but the current system that has a new Governor implementing the previous Governor’s budget does not make sense.
Funding for a transition office for the Governor-elect
Sounds okay, but how much funding?
Require economic disclosures for registrars and electoral board members
Electoral board members are appointed by Judges usually with the influence of political parties. A registrar is a more ministerial position, and I feel should be somewhat immune from more scrutiny.
Gift disclosures: Gifts from relatives exempt from limits and disclosure
This could cause all sorts of consternation for some. I feel family should be allowed to treat one another like family without public scrutiny.
Gift disclosures: Require disclosure of gifts form personal friends in excess of $1000
Sounds reasonable. I am sure some people want a lower threshold. Perhaps a $1000 aggregate limit over a 12 month period makes sense.
Gift prohibition: No gifts from personal friends in excess of $5,000
There would be a way to work around this. This seems reasonable.
By and large the draft recommendations appear worthwhile. As such, we can presume that they are unlikely to be enacted for petty partisan reasons on both sides (unless the G.A. wants to vote themselves a raise).