The Indepenent Ethics Commission That Bob McDonnell Proposed That Never Was

“The Governor still supports the idea of an Independent Ethics Commission.” posted on

Steve Helber / AP

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell backed a permanent, independent ethics agency to police the state’s elected officials and staff as part of his original 2009 election platform: but now says the state’s inspector general’s office fills that roll.

McDonnell has been plagued by scandal in recent months as outlets like the
Washington Post have focused on his relationship with a prominent donor gave the governor and his family members $145,000 in the loans, donations, and gifts between 2011 and 2012.

That scandal has prompted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe to propose an independent ethics commission for elected officials and their staff piggybacking on news that Bob McDonnell was being investigated.

But McAuliffe isn’t the first person in the race to come up with that idea: McDonnell himself once proposed and abandoned after becoming governor saying the state’s inspector general filled the necessary roll.

“Virginia is one of only 10 states without an independent ethics commission,” read McDonnell’s 2009 campaign website. “Bob McDonnell will establish a permanent, statewide independent agency that will provide advice and research as well as evaluate complaints concerning elected officials and appointees to boards, commissions and other public bodies.”

A spokesperson for McDonnell stated that the governor still supported the idea of an independent ethics commission but added that the State Inspectors General office filled the roll.

“The Governor still supports the idea of an Independent Ethics Commission and would have signed it into law had it passed,” spokesperson Taylor Keeney. “The governor believes that the State Inspector General’s office, which was created through legislation passed in 2011, fills the role of the ethics commission goal, Rather than duplicating work and missions, the role of the ethics commission is being handled through the Inspector General’s office. The most important element is independence, and the Inspector General has the independence needed to responsibly investigate these complaints.”

A Cuccinelli campaign spokesperson told BuzzFeed “Ken Cuccinelli has always made openness and transparency top priorities, and has proven it time and time again with his actions.” The spokesperson did not respond when asked to clarify if the Attorney General supported the creation of independent ethics commission like opponent Terry McAuliffe.

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