Virginia Delegates Start Work on Ethics Legislation - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Virginia Delegates Start Work on Ethics Legislation

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The timing of the McDonnell corruption case isn't lost on Virginia lawmakers. They are getting down to business Wednesday in Richmond, ready to reform state ethics laws, but some groups say lawmakers are not going far enough.

It could be months before the fate of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, both indicted on federal corruption charges, is decided. But you can expect big changes on the books very soon when it comes to reforming Virginia's ethics laws.

“Can we come up with something that is very workable, that really makes sure that it's good as far as ethics go and that you know we consider the trust of the public? We want that to happen,” said 66th District Delegate Kirk Cox (R).

House lawmakers announced two weeks ago a bipartisan plan to reform the state's gift laws for politicians. The agreement includes gift reporting for immediate family members, the creation of a state ethics commission, and a proposed $250 cap on individual gifts.

Work on the proposals began in earnest Wednesday in a House subcommittee, but some groups say these reforms aren't reforms at all. In a new report, Progress Virginia says the House proposal is so riddled with loopholes, the first family might still have found itself in hot water.

“You have groups saying that the proposal doesn't do anything. Well I think that's just nonsense. I think if you look at the totality of the proposal it addresses a lot of those issues,” Cox said.

It will be up to lawmakers to decide what happens next. As for the case that started it all, that will be up to a jury.

“I don't see the criminal act at this point. I've seen lots of governors who received lots of contributions from donors,” said House Speaker Bill Howell (R).

"But the legal process will go through and we'll see what happens. He has the right to vigorously defend himself, and that's what he's doing," Cox said.

House lawmakers started work on an ethics package Wednesday afternoon, and Senate lawmakers will begin similar work to tighten up gift rules Thursday morning.

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