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Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Updated: Va. legislators accepted more than $255,000 in gifts last year

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Lobbyists, companies and trade associations gave Virginia legislators international trips, tickets to Redskins football games and the Richmond Ballet and meals last year, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.

Virginia Uranium, a company that is lobbying to mine what is thought to be the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, took four legislators to France. The American Turkish Friendship Association took 12 legislators, most accompanied by spouses, to Turkey. Three legislators got a trip to Taiwan, and one a jaunt to China.

In all, the 140 members of the General Assembly accepted 588 gifts worth $255,223, according to data released Thursday. That's up from $250,000 in 2009.

Many of the gifts were offered during last year's 60-day legislative session, when donors often lobby lawmakers after treating them to dinners, receptions and goody bags.

Many of last year's gifts came from the state's largest and most influential companies and groups.

Top givers by amount were American Turkish Friendship Association ($36,650); Virginia Uranium, ($27,489); Dominion Resources, which runs the largest electric company in the state ($22,673); the American Legislative Exchange Council, a pro-business, free-market group that ghostwrites bills on a variety on subjects that are pushed by its members ($16,764); and Virginia Public Safety Alliance ($16,422). Their most common gift, especially during the legislative session, was a meal at some of Richmond's priciest restaurants.

The top five recipients were: Sen. William C. Wampler Jr. (R-Bristol) $17,593.69; Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Chesterfield) $12,764.80; Del. R. Lee Ware Jr. (R-Powhatan) $10,362.92; Del. Riley E. Ingram (R-Hopewell) $10,028.13; and Del. Thomas A. "Tag" Greason (R-Loudoun) $9,860.95.

Eight legislators reported 10 or more gifts; 17 reported none.

In Congress, lawmakers imposed a limit on gifts after a public corruption scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Similar policies were put in place in Maryland in 2001 after two high-profile scandals there.

In Virginia, lawmakers have toughened disclosure requirements but have not limited gifts.

State law does not limit the gifts lawmakers can receive, but it requires that items valued at more than $50 be disclosed.

This post has been updated to reflect the correct group that paid for the trip to Turkey.

By Anita Kumar  | February 3, 2011; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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Corruption at its finest.

When do they all go to jail and lose their positions?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 3, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I think each of them should pay back to the state the value of all gifts received over $500 in a year.

Posted by: MarilynManson | February 4, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't this tell much of the story in Virginia?

"The top five recipients were: Sen. William C. Wampler Jr. (R-Bristol) $17,593.69; Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Chesterfield) $12,764.80; Del. R. Lee Ware Jr. (R-Powhatan) $10,362.92; Del. Riley E. Ingram (R-Hopewell) $10,028.13; and Del. Thomas A. "Tag" Greason (R-Loudoun) $9,860.95."

Which party's delegates get the most loot from the lobbyists?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 4, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Which party's delegates get the most loot from the lobbyists? Posted by: DrDemocracy

It doens't matter which party gets the most loot, what matters is how the recipients voted and if those votes benefited their constituents.

If the legislators are in the lobbyists pockets and voting for issues that are self-benefiting, they deserve to be ousted.

I'm especially interested in learning how lobbyist paid trips to France, Turkey, Taiwan, and China benefit the commonwealth.

Perhaps Anita could do a follow-up and tell the good tax payers of Virginia what Virginia's interests are in these countries (yeah, like for sure - that would require journalistic skills)

Posted by: asmith1 | February 4, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Outlaw all gifts. There is no reason for them.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 4, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

HA,HA,HA,HA.....and aren't these the same folks who fuss and fume so medical clinics now can't even get a crappy pen or note pad from a pharmacy company?!
Lets see these politicians put the same restrictions on themselves as they do others!!

Posted by: 10bestfan | February 4, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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