Shannon Calls for Reform in Response to Hamilton Scandal
Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, was the first statewide candidate to call for Del. Phil Hamilton of Newport News to resign after e-mails showed he worked to get a job with Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. He then aired ads on the topic.
And now today, he's back -- unveiling a plan to Virginia's government more transparent and accountable in the wake of the scandal.
"I was both shocked and outraged -- not only at Del. Hamilton's behavior but at the system that allowed this to occur,'' Shannon told reporters today. "This episode has left a stain of public corruption on the legislature and on one of our public universities."
Shannon hopes the Hamilton scandal can help, particularly since his Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, is the only statewide candidate not to call on Hamilton to step down, saying the voters should decide his fate. (Gov. Tim Kaine says the same thing.)
Shannon's policy proposal includes a five-point plan to reform conflict of interest laws, increase penalties for officials who violate them and encourage better public access to important information such as lobbyist and campaign finance disclosure forms.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong called on Speaker Bill Howell to announce whether he will allow Hamilton to hold onto his coveted spots on the Appropriations Committee and as a budget conferee, if elected.
"Bill Howell needs to let the people of Virginia know who he wants handling their tax dollars," Armstrong said. "They can rest assured that in a House of Delegates controlled by Democrats, that won't include Phil Hamilton."
Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff to Howell, said he was "disappointed but not surprised that partisans in a campaign season are trying to use a serious issue for their own political gain."
"Speaker Howell is focused not on playing politics but on determining the facts and following the law,'' Nardo said. "The Speaker took the unprecedented step of initiating a House Ethics investigation to determine if Delegate Hamilton violated Virginia's Conflict of Interest Act. Once the five-member panel of impartial individuals completes their work and presents their findings, Speaker Howell will again ensure that appropriate actions are taken to uphold the institutional integrity of the House of Delegates."
September 16, 2009; 4:15 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Attorney General's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009
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