Northam continues push to end free ride for politicians

ralph northamState Sen. Ralph Northam is calling for an overhaul of Virginia’s ethics laws to supplement his plan to end the culture of lavish gifts and political perks.

Northam, the Democratic Party nominee for lieutenant governor, served as president of the Honor Court at the Virginia Military Institute, and teaches medical ethics at Eastern Virginia Medical School. In the Senate Northam is a leader on reforming the state’s broken ethics laws. In 2010, Northam co-patroned legislation with Del. Ward Armstrong that authorized open ethics investigations to continue even after an elected official resigns and barred lobbyists from participating in the process.

Northam has called for improved transparency, a more thorough disclosure process, and stricter rules on gifts to lawmakers and their families. Northam, along with his running mates Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring, supports a ban on gifts over $100. The reform measures pushed by Northam will ensure that politicians who break the law will be held accountable.

“We must put an end to the culture of lavish gifts in Richmond that allows politicians to dodge investigations and avoid prosecution through self-made loopholes,” said Northam. “The actions of our current Governor and Attorney General have shown that safeguards against the abuse of political   power for personal gain in Virginia are woefully inadequate, and we must restore confidence that ethical misconduct will not be tolerated. When there is a conflict of interest, the public has a right to know about it immediately. My proposal, first introduced in 2010, sends a clear message that ethical misconduct will not be tolerated by allowing open investigations to pursue justice even after an elected official resigns to elude prosecution. Middle-class families of Virginia should not have to play by a separate set of rules than Richmond politicians.”

If Northam’s 2010 legislation were signed into law, politicians would no longer be able to avoid an ethics investigation by simply leaving office or resigning. Northam’s new proposal expands on the reforms introduced for legislators in 2010.

 

The Northam Plan

·  Ban gifts over $100 to Virginia lawmakers and their immediate families, with the exception of intra-family gifts.  Disclose all legally permitted gifts under $100.

·  Establish an open ethics board that reviews all financial disclosure for discrepancies, has subpoena power, and can penalize those that break the law.  No lobbyist can serve on this board.

· Lower the threshold from $10,000 to $5,000 to qualify for an elected official to disclose an investment.

· Authorize ethics investigations to continue even after elected officials resign from office.


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