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Governor Terry McAuliffe should be commended for his efforts in establishing a measure of transparency and public integrity in government. The Governor established the Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government on September 25th; the commission’s mission is to make recommendations on how the state government may become more accountable to the people.
This commission is chaired by two co-chairmen, former Congressman Rick Boucher and former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and eight other commission members. The goal going forward is for the commission to make recommendations during the 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly.
As a citizen of the State of Virginia, I applaud these actions. As citizens, we have the duty and responsibility to be informed of the inner workings of our government and become more involved in the process of governance. If we do not accept this duty, we have no one to blame but ourselves when things go wrong. We must hold our state representatives accountable.
This duty, however, relies on the cooperation of government. Efforts and commissions such as this make it easier for citizens to engage in their civic duties and to keep government accountable to the general will.
Some of the important topics the Commission on Integrity is taking under consideration are Virginia’s current practices on gifts and loans; disclosure requirements; conflict of interests; post-public service requirements; and ethics oversight and enforcement.
The commission has also proposed to establish an independent, seven-member Ethics Review Commission to bring accountability to ethics issues related to executive and legislation branch officials, local government officials and members of boards and commissions. Members of the commission would not be able to hold any compensated Virginia state or local government office. The Ethics Review Commission would bring oversight and enforcement of the rules and laws that govern ethical conduct, campaign finance and lobbying. They would effectively serve as a watchdog for the public.
In an interim report by the commission available here, co-chairmen Bolling said that “These issues are complex and they are crucial to regaining the public’s trust in their leaders. We have taken our mission seriously, and our recommendations represent our collective effort to provide the Governor with realistic and meaningful reforms.”
The work of the Commission on Integrity is very impressive. As citizens of the State of Virginia, we applaud Governor McAuliffe for signing the executive order and to the co-chairmen and the full commission members for their dedicated service to the State of Virginia.
We look forward to following through on the outcome as it goes through the Virginia General Assembly’s 2015 session.
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