Target: Members of Virginia’s Congress
Goal: Reform laws on politicians receiving gifts from special interests
Virginia has been criticized for having one of the most lax regulations in the nation when it comes to politicians receiving political gifts from special interests. According to a recent national state integrity investigation, Virginia has ranked 47 out of 50 and earned a failing grade on corruption risk. Virginia’s existing laws allow politicians to receive an unlimited amount of gifts of any size as long as packages of 50 dollars or higher are disclosed. These disclosures are often lacking in transparency because you are not legally required to provide much details on the gift. In addition, the rules for disclosure have loopholes, which render them ineffective. For example, disclosure is not needed if the gift is given to the politician’s immediate family.
Bob McDonnell has recently come under political scrutiny for receiving extravagant gifts from a long-time political donor and CEO of a dietary supplement company named Jonnie R. Williams Sr. These gifts included: payment for catering at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding that amounted to 15,000 dollars, a paid shopping spree for his wife, a 6,500 dollar Rolex watch, and generous donations to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister. The value of the gifts have amounted to 145,000 dollars. He has now attracted the attention of the federal government because of multiple alleged cases of nondisclosure and possible corruption charges. McDonnell has defended himself by saying that he has done nothing illegal and has denied any actions that may suggest bribery or political favoritism. Whether the governor has engaged in any illegal activity or not, it is a clear ethical exploitation of his position in political office. Even if the governor is found guilty of deliberately withholding this piece of financial information, it is a slap on the wrist because the punishment is a mere misdemeanor.
Please sign this petition to urge Virginia ‘s congressional members to take the initiative to re-evaluate and reform existing laws on receiving political gifts as a future deterrent against unethical behaviors.
Dear members of Virginia’s Congress,
Money should not in any way influence political figures. Accepting Rolex watches, shopping sprees, and other grandiose gifts from special interests should not be accepted as ethical behavior. You are compensated and elected for your merit as a public servant, not from the gifts from a few. Non-action in the midst of this scandal means complacency for a dysfunctional system. This will reflect poorly with your voting base and further deteriorate public trust in government. Please take the charge in reforming your policies on political donations, which should at minimum enforce a cap on these gifts and impose a strict penalty on undisclosed gifts after a certain time period has elapsed.
Politicians are held to the highest ethical standards. To simply say what the governor has done is perfectly legal is a disingenuous defense. This is a clear indication that the political structure and culture in Virginia are long overdue for change.
[Your Name Here]
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