Nine of 15 Ethics Advisory Council members appointed


The Ethics Advisory Council, which came into existence on July 1 as the centerpiece of legislation that the General Assembly enacted in response to the federal corruption case against former Gov. Bob McDonnell, now has enough members to form a quorum.

Nine of the 15 Ethics Advisory Council members have been appointed. The Council's first meeting has not been scheduled.

The task of organizing the Ethics Advisory Council has been complicated by the fact that Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed $150,000 in seed money. This week, a McAuliffe-appointed panel recommended scrapping the Ethics Council altogether for a seven-member Ethics Review Commission that would have the independence to initiate investigations, levy civil penalties and conduct random audits of disclosure reports.

Meanwhile, here are the nine members of the Ethics Advisory Council that have been appointed:

State Senate Appointments:

  • Sen. Tommy Norment
  • Former Sen. John Chichester
  • John Bennett (citizen member - Richmond)
  • Bill Leighty (citizen member - Richmond)

House of Delegates Appointments:

  • Del. Todd Gilbert
  • Former Del. Bill Janis
  • Amy Huchens (citizen member - Leesburg)
  • Sheppard Miller III (citizen member - Virginia Beach)

Virginia Municipal League:

  • Walter Erwin (Lynchburg City of Attorney)

There are six appointees outstanding:

Governor Appointments:

  • Two executive branch appointees TBD
  • Two citizen member appointees TBD

Attorney General

  • One appointee TBD

Virginia Association of Counties:

  • One appointee TBD

This summer, the Division of Legislative Services hired a staff member for the Ethics Advisory Council. To implement the law, however, the Ethics Avisory Council must meet and provide staff with policies and procedures.

The Ethics Advisory Council faces the administrative task of figuring a way -- with limited funding -- to build computer systems that must be in place next fall to accommodate an estimated 20,000-30,000 state, judicial and local officials who will file semi-annual conflicts forms with the Council.

The Ethics Advisory Council is tasked with setting up a "searchable database" of the disclosure forms. It's yet to be determined if "searchable" means limited functionality that would allow the public to search for a candidate's report or a more sophisticated system -- like those now in place for lobbyists -- that would allow for full-text searches across all reports.

 

Dec. 2, 2014

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