Va. Ethics Advisory Council Holds 1st Meeting in Richmond

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Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council

Monday marked the first meeting of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.

The new advisory council was set up to provide guidance on ethical dilemmas and possible conflicts of interest state lawmakers may come across.

The panel includes a bipartisan group of lawmakers and two former judges, who will have the assistance of staffers in forming opinions.

This council group exists to provide informal or formal advice for lawmakers on such issues as dealing with lobbyists: answering questions regarding accepting gifts, travel arrangements, and other legalities.

"We here in Virginia are just trying to set up a framework for public officials that they can easily follow, where they know the rules. If they need advice they can get it, so they can avoid the future traps maybe like the governor ran into, and we can have a better Virginia because of it," said 15th District Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R).

Leaders on the panel say this is another sign that the culture has been changing in the capitol following the convictions of former Governor Bob McDonnell and former first lady Maureen McDonnell.

The panel voted Monday to put the two former judges in charge of the group in an effort to establish a degree of apolitical leadership and appear more neutral.