Editor's note, May 23 —A local Virginia prosecutor is examining whether Gov. Robert McDonnell violated state disclosure laws by failing to report a 2011 gift from a campaign donor. The investigation, first reported Wednesday by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, began in November at the request of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
A series of revelations and stinging media reports about Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s relationship with a corporate executive is bringing new attention to the state’s forgiving accountability laws—a subject highlighted last year by the State Integrity Investigation.
The root of the uproar is a $15,000 catering tab for the wedding of McDonnell’s daughter back in 2011, quietly paid by Jonnie Williams Sr., the CEO of Star Scientific, a Glen Allen, Va.-based dietary supplement company. Now the news, first reported in late March by the Washington Post, is dominating conversation in the state’s political circles and raising questions about Virginia’s liberal allowances for gifts to politicians: there is no limit.
Gov. Nathan Deal brought Georgia in line with nearly every other state in the nation Monday by signing into law the state’s first restrictions on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers. Deal’s action puts in place the first major piece of ethics reform Georgia has passed in decades.
Until now, lobbyists in the Peach State had been free to lavish legislators with gifts and junkets of any size. But starting next year, they’ll be forbidden from spending more than $75 per gift.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a package of reform bills Wednesday night, bringing final approval for the first major overhaul of the state’s ethics laws in more than three decades. The two bills give significant new powers to the state’s ethics commission, extend a ban on lobbying for lawmakers after they leave office and rework the state’s campaign finance limits.
The new ethics legislation will address at least some of the weaknesses responsible for Florida’s overall grade of C- from the State Integrity Investigation, a state-by-state ranking of ethics and accountability released last year by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International. In the specific category of ethics enforcement, the Sunshine State had received an F.
A New York state senator and five other political officials have been named in a sweeping federal corruption case — the latest in a series of scandals that helped earn the Empire State a D grade from the State Integrity Investigation.
At the heart of the complaint unsealed Tuesday: federal prosecutors say Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat from Queens, used a series of contacts in an attempt to bribe New York City Republican Party officials to approve his bid for mayor on the GOP ticket.
SANTA FE — On February 20, New Mexico’s House Energy and Natural Resources Committee gathered for one of its regular meetings in a drab room here at the capitol, a circular building known as the Roundhouse. On the agenda: a bill that would hike fees and penalties for energy companies drilling wells in the state.
The votes fell along party lines, with five Republicans lining up against the bill and the committee's Democratic majority voting to send the legislation to the House floor. The Republicans argued the bill would stifle business and cost jobs, and for one lawmaker, the issue hit particularly close to home. Rep. James Strickler spends most of the year running his own small oil and gas production company, JMJ Land & Minerals Co. The bill would directly affect his profits.
AUGUSTA — The state’s Republican governor and a leading Democratic legislator have teamed up to try to improve the ethical standards for both elected and appointed state officials.
A bill unveiled this week by Gov. Paul LePage and Sen. Emily Cain of Orono will require greater disclosure of the financial and political interests of legislators and high-ranking executive branch officials.
The Republican-controlled Florida Senate unanimously passed a landmark ethics reform package on Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session, setting the stage for what could be the first major changes to the state’s ethics laws in decades.
The bills would strengthen provisions that prevent lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists, expand the powers of the state’s ethics commission and require that financial disclosure reports be posted online.
The Georgia legislature has taken a major step toward strengthening the state’s ethics laws by moving a package of reform legislation through the House. The two bills in the package would impose limits on gifts from lobbyists and restore powers to the state’s ethics enforcement agency, among other changes.
The measures, which are sponsored by Speaker David Ralston, attracted little opposition, sailing through the House on Monday with just four dissenting votes. But their fate in the Senate remains clouded. In January, the upper chamber adopted a $100 cap on lobbyist gifts in a rule change that does not apply to the House. Ralston told reporters on Monday that he would not negotiate on changing his proposed ban on gifts to match the $100 limit that the Senate enacted. While some senators have called for passing the House legislation unchanged, others have sounded more cautious.
Documents released this week appear to show that Florida legislative leaders worked with state Republican officials to manipulate redistricting efforts, in apparent defiance of a constitutional amendment that banned such coordination.
The documents, the contents of which were first described by the Herald/Times of Florida, were ordered released by a judge presiding over a suit against the state filed last year by both individuals and government watchdogs. That suit alleges that new boundary lines for both congressional and state Senate districts are illegal because they came about partly as a result of politically-driven activities forbidden by the amendment. Among the documents are emails between political consultants, the staff of Republican leaders and two state representatives discussing the new district lines.