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Letter to the Editor: Moral and Ethical Issue

— A Letter to the Editor in the Mount Vernon Gazette (July 18 – “Investigation Not Complete”) strongly criticized Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) for his comments on his blog calling for the resignation of Gov. Bob McDonnell. In his letter, H. Jay Spiegel admonishes Delegate Surovell for not giving the Governor the benefit of the doubt about allegations of wrong-doing in receiving and accepting significant gifts from a large donor with pending on-going litigation with the Commonwealth, because the investigation was on-going and not complete. He takes a legalistic approach in which McDonnell should be innocent until proven guilty under the law. He goes on to point out that a commenter on Delegate Surovell's blog says that "none of the Governor's actions technically violate any Virginia law. He also suggests that Delegate Surovell and, by extension, voters should, instead, congratulate Governor McDonnell for what Mr. Spiegel thinks are the fine accomplishments of the McDonnell administration. This approach misses the point and is clearly an effort by Mr. Spiegel to change the narrative.

The gifting problem for Governor McDonnell is as much a moral and ethical issue as it is legal. Delegate Surovell has a sworn obligation to protect the integrity of the institutions of government and public service. Whether the Governor technically violated any law is important to know in the medium term, but the really pertinent issue is ethical.

As the problem unfolds and the Governor has to scramble to return the untoward gifts to himself and his family, the political ramifications are becoming clearer. It is, to me, a great shame, whether one is a Democrat or Republican, that Governor McDonnell either didn't think the perception of this as a moral or ethical issue was a problem or they thought no one would notice.

Peter Fraser

Alexandria