If Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to further his campaign pledge to push tougher ethics laws — and distinguish himself as, well, not former Gov. Bob McDonnell — vetoing a bill that would have curbed his ability to take campaign cash from companies or local officials vying for economic development grants from his office probably isn’t helping.
HB 1212 and SB 650, which were rolled together and received unanimous support from both houses of the General Assembly, would have restricted the governor’s solicitation or acceptance of campaign contributions over $50 from any party competing for grants or loans from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund, the governor’s $35 million discretionary pot of money.
Since the fund was created in 1993, governors from Doug Wilder to Bob McDonnell have given roughly $200 million to match grants from localities to companies that meet certain job creation and capital investment requirements.
Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle co-sponsored the bill to combat any symbiotic relationships between governors and wealthy donors after outrage erupted over the ties McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, allegedly enjoyed with businessman Jonnie Williams.
One campaign finance expert called McAuliffe’s move “mystifying.”