At least until after November’s election, most candidates in Virginia seem to think that there should be some reform to Virginia’s campaign finance and disclosure rules. At least it seems likely that most will support expanding disclosure rules to require disclosure of gifts to immediate family members as well as candidates/officials.
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Up until recent news reports about gifts to family members of Gov. Bob McDonnell, almost all elected officials would defend Virginia’s notoriously unregulated system of allowing candidates and elected officials to take unlimited amounts of money and unlimited gifts from anyone or any company at all. Because Virginia has such strict disclosure requirements, elected officials seem to think that it’s OK to be awash in all that money. Voters can look up who is giving money and draw their own conclusions. How could it hurt if the details are all out in the open?
Discovering that the system is entirely self-regulated with no independent auditor, no ethics commission and no penalties for failing to report gifts or contributions should give voters some pause.
Consider that only four states, including Virginia, have no limits on contributions. Most states have limits; for example, in Maryland, individuals can give $4,000 to any one candidate and $10,000 total in a four-year election cycle.