McAuliffe Takes Steps to Prevent Financial Scandal - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McAuliffe Takes Steps to Prevent Financial Scandal

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Terry McAuliffe Terry McAuliffe

Before he takes office, Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe is trying to avoid the missteps of his predecessor. McAuliffe will place many of his family’s assets into a blind trust while he’s in the state’s highest office.

This comes as state lawmakers prepare to take a hard look at strengthening Virginia’s gift disclosure rules for elected officials.

McAuliffe has hired a team of lawyers to help establish the trust; a trustee will be named within the next few weeks. At the same time, the governor-elect will sell off other assets which could be perceived as potential conflicts of interest.

Among them, McAuliffe will reportedly divest of his stakes in GreenTech Automotive and Franklin Pellets - two business ventures that became lightning rods for criticism during this year’s campaign.

McAuliffe has said he wants to strengthen Virginia’s gift disclosure rules, and will propose the creation of an independent ethics commission “with some real teeth” upon taking office in January.

“With subpoena power, the ability to refer for criminal action if there is any that’s found. But I’ve also said that we should have a $100 gift ban for any statewide elected official,” McAuliffe said the day after the election.

As one of his first acts as governor, McAuliffe says he will pass an executive order to prevent him and his family from accepting gifts worth more than $100.

All are attempts for McAuliffe to distance himself from the trouble that has plagued Governor Bob McDonnell this year, after he accepted but didn't report more than $160,000 in gifts from a wealthy campaign donor, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Williams is set to resign his position next month at a company shareholder’s meeting.

McDonnell maintains he followed Virginia's existing disclosure laws, and gave no special treatment in return for gifts.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, McDonnell said he'll share his ideas about how to fix Virginia's ethics laws before he leaves office.

“We have some of the more lax laws in the country...I don't want anybody else to go through this, so we're going to have a series of reforms that I think that we can recommend,” he said on the talk show.

But he isn't out of the woods yet. McDonnell is still the subject of an ongoing federal probe. The Washington Post reports prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against him.

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