Gifts and money. Money and gifts. It can all flow with no limit in Virginia and we have seen the hand-wringing by everyone about it. Its a betrayal of the Virginia Way (whatever that is), the nattering nabobs of the press tell us. Let's fix Virginia's ethics, demands Gov. McAuliffe as he vetoes ethics reform. The dirty secret is nobody in Virginia actually wants ethics reform because they all love getting free shit. McDonnell was just dumb enough to get caught.
The real reform that needs to be made must force us to ask a different question that everyone is asking now. What is being asked now is "why is there no limits on gifts?" What we really need to ask is why was Jonnie Williams trying to bribe Bob and/or Maureen McDonnell? That is what nobody is really talking about and where the real corruption lies.
Bob McDonnell had at his disposal quite a bit of money in something called the Governor's Opportunity Fund, basically a state-sponsored slush fund that allows him to throw money at businesses. Nobody is talking about that. The difference between what Jonnie Wiliams did and what Bill Bolling was doing for four years as Jobs-Whatever-Fake-Title he had is a crazy and lonely wife. The real reform isn't gifts, the real reform comes from the governor of Virginia having at his disposal millions of dollars to "convince" businesses to move here. Virginia Republicans make a lot of hay, and at times rightfully so, about how this state is great for business. But much of that comes from taxpayer money or sweetheart deals that exempt these businesses from a lot of the regulations local businesses have to endure.
The real corruption is legal and state-sponsored crony capitalism that frankly southern states have used since after Reconstruction to lure businesses here. Part of the governor's job should be to bring businesses here and foster an economic climate hospitable to business. But what Virginia does goes beyond this and vests in one man (or women) the sole power to throw around millions of dollars that opens one up to the slick moves and winning smile of a dietary supplement shyster looking to pocket taxpayer dollars by lavishing gifts and attention on a man and his wife distracted by work, ambition, and loneliness.
It's time to close this Fund and force the state and General Assembly to create a real business climate, not a one-man crony capitalism.