Virginia’s previous governor, Bob McDonnell, faces a federal prosecution, along with his wife, Maureen, for “illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy Richmond area businessman who sought special treatment from state government.”
With that high-profile scandal unfolding, legislators came to the capitol this year ready to enact reforms. One bill sought to prevent corruption by banning campaign contributions and/or gifts to the governor of more than $50 from any entity seeking a grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.
That fund, with a current balance of $35 million, is designed to promote economic growth by allowing the governor to personally dole out cash or loans to assist various commercial enterprises that “maintain or create jobs in the state.”
Not hard to imagine how such a fund could be used, in reality, to reward only those who reward the governor . . . or his campaign. And so, even in a session marked by major partisan warfare including an ongoing budget stalemate, every legislator in the state House and Senate, whether Republican or Democrat, came together to vote in the affirmative for the bill.
Last week, Terry McAuliffe, the new governor and old Clinton confidante, vetoed this reform. Before killing it, McAuliffe offered a lame excuse about keeping the applicants to his slush fund confidential. So much for his big talk about transparency.
With the legislation now dead, let’s try an even better idea. End the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. Zero it out. No governor should have a slush fund to shower millions of dollars on crony companies. No such program should exist.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.