Remembering gifts, if you’re a politician, seems to tougher than for the rest of us, even if we struggle to recall if it was Aunt Anita or Uncle Reuben who gets the thank you note for that warm sweater.
Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County, is among the latest politicians to recollect a gift that needed to be declared in their annual conflict of interests form – in her case, a $7,800 trip to Taiwan, courtesy of that nation’s government.
Earlier this year, of course, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had to revise his declaration to take account of two stays at Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams’ Smith Mountain Lake mansion, one of them several months after Star sued the state, seeking to overturn a $1.7 million tax bill, as well as a flight to New York on Williams. And Gov. Bob McDonnell has argued a $15,000 check from Williams for catering at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding wasn’t really a gift to him.
Virginia law requires disclosure of gifts and investments (including those in Star Scientific stock that Cuccinelli also initially forget to report) so that citizens can weigh whether there’s a risk that officials might have conflicts of interests. Other states set limits on who can give how much to a public official (or to their campaign funds, for that matter).
Anyway, Blue Ridge Caucus got curious about exactly what big gifts (we used a $500 threshold) our legislators got. Here’s the rundown:
Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell, $7,800 for that trip to Taiwan, plus $1,120 from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative advocacy group, to attend a technology meeting and $996 from Dominion Resources for lodging at last year’s GOP convention.
Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County, $4,000 from Taiwan for a trip there, $1,600 from Sea World for a tour and tickets, $1,400 from the National Governors Association to tour charter schools in New Orleans, $674 from Alpha Natural Resources for a photo and meal.
Sen Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, $1,680 from the University of Virginia for a reception at a football game.
Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, $1,972 from the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association to attend its annual meeting in Florida, $736 from the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association to attend its annual meeting at The Greenbrier and $500 worth of Lane Stadium tickets from Virginia Tech.
Del. Chris Head, R-Botetourt County, $602 from the Virginia Coal Association for a trip to learn about coal, railroads and power.
Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, $939 from Dominion Resources (owner of the state’s biggest power company) to attend a sporting event.
Del. Joseph Yost, R-Blacksburg, $554 from the Virginia Coal Association for a trip to learn about coal, railroads and power.
Be interesting to see some of those thank you notes, wouldn’t it?