Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Top News

Ethics loophole opens way to free vacations for lawmakers

See also

The author of four ethics-reform bills says a House proposal opens the way to free vacations for lawmakers.

Travel is at the heart of what we receive, and this is like Swiss cheese,” state Sen.Chap Petersen said of the House ethics package.

The House of Delegates plan imposes a $250 limit on gifts legislators can receive from lobbyists and individuals with business before the state. The gift cap does not include travel.

The wording of the bill leaves open the prospect of lawmakers taking paid-for vacations.

“Lobbyists or anybody else are allowed to take lawmakers on vacation. For an unlimited value,” Petersen’s office charged.

In an interview with Watchdog.org on the opening day of the General Assembly,Petersen urged the House to tighten its reform initiative.

“It doesn’t go far enough in changing the culture,” he said, noting that the delegates’ plan keeps the General Assembly exempt from Freedom of Information Act provisions.

“We operate in an ethics-free environment,” said the Fairfax Democrat, who wants to end the FOIA waiver.

There’s even disagreement over who classifies as a “friend.”

The House reforms require the reporting of gifts to elected officials’ spouses and immediate family members while clarifying definitions on gifts that officials can accept from “friends” – without defining the term.

Petersen, whose legislation avoids use of the word, went on to criticize the House version for failing to rein in legal bills of public officials who find themselves in ethical fixes.

Pointing to the “giftgate” scandal embroiling Gov. Bob McDonnell, Petersen said private attorneys are being employed at public expense.

“You have million-dollar legal bills and taxpayers get stuck with the tab while a private citizen (gets) a $1,500-public defender.”

“We need to have agreements with local or city attorneys or public defenders who could step in to represent public officials,” said Petersen, a lawyer.

See the Republican response and a comparison of ethics plans here.

Advertisement

News

  • Mt. Everest avalanche
    Disaster strikes Mt. Everest as at least 12 people were killed in an avalanche
    Video
    Watch Video
  • Most Earthlike planet discovered
    The Kepler telescope has discovered the most Earthlike, possibly habitable planet yet
    Space News
  • Easter crosses create debate
    Easter crosses spark a debate of separation of church and state in Ohio
    Headlines
  • Chelsea Clinton is preggers
    Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child
    Headlines
  • Stanley Cup playoffs
    The battle for Lord Stanley's Cup is on, don't miss a minute of playoff action
    Sports
  • Ukraine discussed amongst U.S., E.U., Russia
    The U.S., E.U. and Russia agree on ways to diffuse the tension in Ukraine
    Video
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!