Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gov. McDonnell's final service to Virginia - Resign!

With federal prosecutors closing in on Governor Bob McDonnell's corruption, the Commonwealth is left leaderless with an impotent chief executive until a new governor is sworn in early next year. The best thing that Bob McDonnell can do for Virginia, and for himself, is to resign.

Governor McDonnell flanked by
Lt. Governor Bolling - who is clean in this scandal -
and Attorney General Cuccinelli - who isn't.
The Washington Post reports that Jonnie Williams Sr, the chief executive of Star Scientific, has been interviewed by prosecutors and has turned over financial records detailing the more than $120,000 in gifts given to McDonnell and his family. Other company officials are also being interviewed.

McDonnell could be charged with corruption under the Hobbs Act that prohibits elected officials from taking official actions in return for money or gifts. The Supreme Court has held that a violation of the law occurs when "... a public official has obtained a payment to which he was not entitled, knowing that the payment was made in return for official acts."

Even if McDonnell is not charged, his tenure as chief executive is basically done - his political goose is cooked. He can stay in office while bringing more disgrace to Virginia as government stumbles along to the end of his term. Or, he can resign, free the Commonwealth of six months of purgatory, and allow Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to take over the Executive Mansion. True, Bolling would be little more than a caretaker, but that is preferable to months of a state government mired in scandal and controversy that destroys faith in our representative democracy.

Perhaps we can thank Governor McDonnell for bringing attention to Virginia's lax ethic laws that earned a big fat "F" from the Center for Public Integrity for being " of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law." Smells like rotten eggs.

The cooked goose of a governor says he'll propose changes to the Commonwealth's ethics laws - kinda like a fox with a bloody chicken in his jaws promising to fix the lock on the henhouse door. It would be far preferable for someone removed from this scandal - perhaps an interim Governor Bill Bolling - to lead a sweeping ethics reform movement and have proposed legislation ready for the 2014 session of the General Assembly. If the elite 140 (who also get lavished by nice gifts that are legal - but not moral or ethical IMHO) under state law drop the ball on ethics reform shame on them - and us - for failing to raise our Commonwealth to a higher standard.

Prior posts on corruption and the lack of enforceable ethics laws in Virginia:

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