What’s that old saying; “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” Maybe you’re too young to have heard it, but it means be grateful for whatever someone hands you. In the days before Oprah was giving away cars, horses were the penultimate gift. And you wouldn’t want to imply that this horse was “long in the tooth,” ie getting on in years with one hoof in the glue factory. That would be tacky.
But what if you’re an elected official, like say the GOP Governor in our fair state of Virginia. And what if one of your biggest political donors, let’s say he owns a pretty big vitamin supplement company and his name is Jonnie Williams Sr., chief executive of Star Scientific, let’s just say Jonnie decides to give you and your family gifts worth over six figures?
The First Lady of VA gets a Rolex to give to her hubby, and then a $15,000 shopping spree in NYC at Bergdorf’s.
The First Daughter receives a $15,000 wedding catering gift, and a another $10,000 engagement gift goes to a different daughter.
Believe me, I know weddings can be expensive! We have 4 this year to attend, and thank goodness for online wedding registries. I wonder what would cost $10,000? That wooden salad bowl?
Last week, R-Gov Bob McDonnell released a written statement apologizing for the scandal and saying that he had repaid Williams for $120,000 in loans: $70,000 to a real estate company owned by the governor and his sister and $50,000 to first lady Maureen McDonnell. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/mcdonnell-daughter-repaid-15000-catering-gift/2013/07/31/58bb18ba-f9ea-11e2-9bde-7ddaa186b751_story.html
So while everyone has been focusing on the slimy, sexual antics of other political men, our Governor was hoping all this would just go away. But the tables have turned and Jonnie (whatever happened to the “H” in John?) is cooperating with federal investigators, which can only mean they are planning to prosecute McDonnell under the Hobbs Act which “…prohibits elected officials from taking money or other items of value in exchange for the performance of official duties.” http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/star-donor-assists-u-s-in-mcdonnell-probe/article_f8012a33-00b4-56b9-b9af-1901751965e3.html
Now I had to raise my hand and swear I’d never take any gifts while I was a member of the School Board in NJ. And I was never offered any, still…there was no ambiguity about it, none whatsoever. And when I covered Borough Council Meetings, members would recuse themselves from votes if they had the slightest interest in a business. On every level of government this conflict of interest oath must stand if we want to rise above the banana republics of the world.
Such a slippery slope our Governor has been on, and his holier than thou wanna-be replacement Ken Cuccinelli, running for his seat in November, hasn’t uttered a peep. Maybe Gov Ultrasound, and his AG Cuccinelli who would like to overturn Roe vs Wade – who sponsored the ‘choose life’ license plates and supports fake pregnancy centers – maybe these two just need to refocus their public policy on the economy.
Something is rotten in the state of Virginia! Quick, call the veterinary dentist.