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Virginia Lawmakers Question Logic Behind Ethics Panel Veto

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to the media after a bill signing at a Habitat for Humanity house in Richmond, Va., Friday, June 13, 2014.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to the media after a bill signing at a Habitat for Humanity house in Richmond, Va., Friday, June 13, 2014.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is vetoing funding for a new ethics commission, even as former Governor Bob McDonnell is facing federal corruption charges.

One of McDonnell's problems is that he failed to disclose he received a Rolex watch from a businessman seeking influence from state regulators. That's why one of the centerpieces of ethics reform this year was the creation of a new commission that would serve as a clearinghouse for personal financial disclosure forms, a place that would collect forms outlining possible conflicts of interest for everyone from local school board members to statewide elected officials.

"There's a lot of scrutiny going on with ethics right now in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I think rightly so, and it is important that we get it right, and I don't want to hide behind a fig leaf and say, 'Well, we've already done something,'" says Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope.

Hope voted for the ethics reform. But he says he agrees with the governor's veto of funding for the ethics commission, a strategy Democrats say will allow them to come back next year with what they call a more robust package of reforms.

Republican Delegate Dave Albo says he's having a hard time understanding that strategy. "I'm disappointed but I'm also confused. I don't understand why he thinks eliminating the commission is going to make it more ethical."

McAuliffe says he wants to come back next year and offer a new round of ethics reform.

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