- Rick Boucher
- Bill Bolling
- Viola Baskerville
- Sharon Bulova
- John Casteen
- Susan Magill
- Courtney Malveaux
- Joe May
- John Sherman
Wow. A committee of Very Serious People who are very non-conservative and thus are probably Very Serious. No room for the rabble, I guess.
What a joke.
While am not familiar with every name on this list, I know enough to know that people on this commission are people who have made a lot of money and notoriety off of state and local government and I doubt are very interested in doing anything to actually fix what is really wrong. The recommendations will no doubt ask for more government in order to manage government.
These are, after all, Very Serious People.
When we think of ethics reform, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is WWJLF. What Was Johnnie Looking For? He was looking for money from the Governor's Opportunity Fund, a slush fund of millions that the governor has at his disposel to throw at businesses to move to Virginia. Every governor has used it, it is without General Assembly oversight, and it is something a certain co-chairman of this commission was counting on using to propel himself to the governorship. See here.
What was the other scandal? Phil Puckett, of course This is a twofer! Not only do we have a state senator with enough tenure to retire and get a pension, he was looking for that golden parachute that so many state lawmakers have used to end their careers rich since the pension is paid out on the last three years of your public service. Get reelected in a safe district over and over, take a job as head of a state department nobody cares about, retire with a fat pension for doing very little. Keep gettin' them checks. On top of that, somehow a sitting member of the House of Delegates, Terry Kilgore, is also the chairman of a powerful state commission that doles out millions itself. Its insane.
I can only imagine what this Bolling-Boucher train-wreck will give us. No doubt there will be much hand-wringing by these Very Serious People. I can just see it. A large lacquered table, perhaps with a skirt on it and the seal of Virginia. There would be another table in front of them to listen to testimony from other Very Serious People, with notepads and nice nameplates in front of everyone. They will be looking perhaps to set up another permanent commission to oversee ethics (with, no doubt, a nice salary that will tack on to your state pension), and various other laughable proposals that will look strong but won't be. After all, these people no doubt believe in the openness of government. Don't be fooled, Virginia. Nearly all of these Very Serious People have served significant amount of time in elected office, I'm sure they aren't going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg they, and their friends, are feeding off of.
If you want ethics reform, Virginia can save some money on these Very Serious People and just do the following:
- Legislative term limits: Four terms for House of Delegates, two terms for the Virginia Senate. This way, legislators cannot just take that golden parachute that led to things like what Phil Puckett did. I'm not saying it was corrupt, because it was clearly legal, but seriously ... even Rs I know who love what he did know it wasn't entirely "ethical." If your going to serve in state government and get a nice pension, you should actually be doing a job for some time in state government.
- Pay raise for state legislators: So yes, this one is painful to write. But seriously, I don't think delegates and senators are properly compensated for their service. If we are going to insist that we maintain a part-time legislature that forces its members to actually have real jobs in the community like the rest of us, we must better compensate them for when they leave those jobs to serve.
- Ban legislators from serving on state commissions concurrently: It is really ridiculous that Terry Kilgore chairs the Virginia Tobacco Commission. In this state, the House of Delegates is incredibly powerful. Kilgore holds sway over judges, budgets, and nearly every thing the state touches. To then give him the power over millions of dollars in tobacco money is scary.
- Lastly, abolish the Opportunity Fund!!!!: I cannot say this loud enough. This is the money Johnnie wanted, this is the money Bolling used to run around the state and throw at businesses who would then, in turn, I'm sure send many a contribution his way for his race for governor. What a joke. This is complete crony capitalism at its worst. The only difference between what Bolling was doing (to applause) and what McDonnell did (to a federal conviction) is a crazy wife. Do we really want that to be the line in sand for this state? The catalyst for corruption in this state is a roving fund of millions of dollars doled out at the discretion of one person and without any oversight. Don't reform it, end it. Any deal the state makes with a business must be approved by the General Assembly.
Does ANYONE think the Bill Bollings, Sharon Bulovas, and Viola Baskervilles of the world, these Very Serious People, would do any of this? Come on, be honest. Abolition of the Opportunity fund, legislative term limits, state legislative pay raise, and the elimination of elected officials serving on state commissions concurrently. That is real ethics reform. Getting rich off of state government has been a bipartisan shibboleth among the political elite and connected in this commonwealth. In order to bring about real ethics reform, that axis needs to be broken.
P.S. Can a reform commission really be taken seriously by the Chief Jobs Creation Officer of a governor just convicted in federal court?