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Ethics Reforms Don't Go Far Enough In Virginia, Critics Say

Charges of corruption in the Virginia governor's office have sparked a number of ethics-reform efforts. But critics say the reforms don't go far enough.

The General Assembly passed a law that limits gifts to $250. That doesn't apply to meals and travel, however. A newly created ethics commission would have some oversight, but Alexandria Delegate Rob Krupicka says he would have liked to have seen it play a stronger role in approving sponsored trips.

"A lot of folks pushed for, and I supported, efforts to require the ethics commission to sign off on your travel to make sure it is truly related to the job of being a legislator," Del. Krupicka says. He says he would have also liked to see limits on food and travel.

Springfield Delegate Dave Albo disagrees. He says that might have limited the ability of legislators to attend Rotary Club meetings and awards banquets. Also, while he says the commission could theoretically play an oversight role in approving travel, making that happen was too difficult.

"We were looking at that, but it was going to cost a million bucks because you were going to have to hire a bunch of accountants if you wanted them to have audit power," Del. Albo says.

This year's session took place against the backdrop of a major corruption scandal, as former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell has been indicted on federal corruption charges for allegedly accepting gifts in exchange for helping a nutritional supplements company.

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