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Richmond Times Dispatch: Six House Democrats urge McAuliffe to strengthen ethics bill Print


Created:  Wednesday, March 4, 2015 11:30PM


Six Democrats from the House of Delegates are urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe to propose amendments to make the recently passed ethics bill stricter.

The six lawmakers had initially voted against the House version of the ethics bill on Feb. 10. The compromise bill lawmakers approved at the end of the session passed unanimously.

"The unanimous vote on the matter should not be taken as a sign that there was universal agreement that the legislation was adequate," says the letter the delegates sent McAuliffe Wednesday.

The letter was signed by Dels. Marcus B. Simon, D-Fairfax; Kenneth R. Plum, D-Fairfax; Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington; Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke; Scott A. Surovell, D-Fairfax and K. Rob Krupica Jr., D-Alexandria.

The delegates seek a dozen proposed changes, including:

* Prohibiting "gift splitting" to prevent a lobbyist from exceeding the gift limit by allocating the cost to multiple clients.

* Empowering the ethics council to audit, receive and investigate signed complaints, subpoena records, and refer matters for prosecution.

* Mandating that the ethics council audit a minimum number of Statements of Economic Interest and campaign finance reports on an annual basis.

Matt Moran, a spokesman for Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said the ethics bill "was introduced on the first day of session," giving all legislators 45 days to work on it.

"Democrats had two opportunities to offer amendments but didn't. The bill passed without any recorded no votes" he said, noting that it had the support of House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and the Democrat co-patron, Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond.

"No one has ever said this was a perfect bill," Moran said. He noted that Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, the House bill's sponsor, "said on the House floor we would have to continue to work at it, but the House's goal was to make meaningful reforms and we did that."