Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Friday on Governor Terry McAuliffe's veto of House Bill 1212: "At a time when all Virginia elected officials should be working hard to restore the public's trust, Governor McAuliffe's decision to veto a bipartisan ethics reform bill that unanimously passed both the Republican House and Democratic Senate is a disappointing and unfortunate step in the wrong direction. This legislation was a key part of the General Assembly's efforts to strengthen and improve Virginia's ethics, transparency and disclosure laws."
House Bill 1212 and its identical Senate counterpart SB 650 would have prohibited the Governor, his campaign committee, and any political action committee established on his behalf from knowingly soliciting or accepting a contribution, gift, or other item with a value greater than $50 from persons and entities seeking loans or grants from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund. The bills also restrict such gifts and contributions from persons and entities seeking loans or grants from the Fund.
The Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund is used to provide grants and loans to businesses to relocate to Virginia or expand in the state. The Governor has broad discretion in making awards, and awards are made without competitive bidding. The Fund presently has a balance of approximately $35 million, and could receive additional funds when the General Assembly completes action on the 2014-16 state budget.
Each bill passed the General Assembly unanimously. HB1212 was co-patroned by Delegates Jim LeMunyon (R-Chantilly) and Scott Surrovell (D-Mt. Vernon). SB650 was co-patroned by 24 Senators, including Democrats Dick Saslaw (R-Fairfax), Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax) and John Edwards (D-Roanoke).