Obenshain bills to curb EDA abuse pass State Senate
Legislation aimed at preventing the next Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority scandal has passed the Virginia Senate.
SB 701, authored by Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain, would require executive directors and members of each economic development authority to complete the Virginia Conflict of Interest Act and Virginia Freedom of Information Act training.
The bill passed out of the Committee on General Laws and off the floor of the Senate to the House of Delegates unanimously.
Also passing unanimously was Obenshain’s SB 703, which requires executive directors and members of each economic development authority to file the Virginia Statement of Economic Interest with the clerk of the local governing body.
“These bills requiring EDA directors and members to take ethics training and submit SOEI is a step in the right direction in ensuring government transparency and accountability,” Obenshain said in a statement. “We want to do our best to try and prevent what we saw in Warren County from happening again. These bills attempt to do that.”
An investigation into allegations of embezzlement at the Front Royal-Warren County EDA initiated in 2018 ultimately revealed that millions of dollars were missing from the EDA, in what has been called the largest embezzlement scandal in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Our EDAs solve complex solutions and bring crucial economic initiatives to our districts. The work they do are much needed shots in the arm to our communities’ economies,” Obenshain said. “The citizens deserve our trust and confidence and these bills help ensure they will have it.”