Sens. Petersen and Stuart propose gift ban for Virginia elected officials

state-capitol2State Sens. Chap Petersen and Richard Stuart have written the first gift ban ethics reform bill for the 2015 General Assembly session.

Stuart and Petersen’s legislation will effectively eliminate all gifts of over $100 in value for any officials or employees of state government agencies (including elected officials) and require ethics council review of any intangible gifts, such as compensated travel or tickets to events.

Petersen and Stuart’s bill will –
• Ban all tangible gifts of more than $100 in value
• Prohibit any gifts intended to induce an official action
• Gift limit and prohibitions would apply to all immediate family members
Additionally, Petersen and Stuart’s legislation will require any intangible gift exceeding $100 in value, such as travel, be reviewed by the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. The Council will determine whether the intangible gift is of public benefit when ruling whether the state employee or elected official can receive the gift.

Elected officials, candidates for office, or state employees that knowingly violate this statute will be fined $250 for the first offense, and charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for any subsequent offense within four years.

Statement of Sen. Petersen (D-Fairfax):
“Our bill will put teeth into the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, and will effectively ban all tangible gifts exceeding $100 in value. It is long past time for Virginia to take effective steps to reform the current gift excess in the Virginia and prove to the public that Virginia elected officials are taking concrete steps towards ethics reform.”
Statement of Sen. Stuart (R-Stafford):

“There is a culture of gift giving in Richmond, and it is time to change that culture. These reforms will require legislators to reduce this practice and will restore confidence in Virginia government.”

Sen. Stuart went on further to say: “To show that I believe in and stand behind this legislation I am adopting a no gifts policy other than legislative awards.”

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