WASHINGTON — Virginia lawmakers are reporting fewer gifts ever since former Gov. Bob McDonnell was put on trial on corruption charges.
In 2017, state lawmakers reported about $77,000 in gifts and conference access, continuing a decline from the $654,000 in gifts reported in McDonnell’s final year in office in 2013.
McDonnell and his wife were indicted shortly after leaving the executive mansion and then convicted of taking thousands in cash, gifts and trips in exchange for lending their support to a businessman. The U.S. Supreme Court later unanimously overturned the governor’s conviction, and federal prosecutors dropped charges against both him and Maureen McDonnell.
After the indictment, lawmakers imposed some restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to legislators, but they have also set exemptions to some of those rules that limit what must be reported.
The items that were reported as gifts or conferences this year were mainly tied to meetings, meals, galas and theater, followed by foreign travel and sports tickets, a Virginia Public Access Project analysis found.
Virginia still has few campaign finance restrictions, so lawmakers are permitted to spend that separate cash on themselves without reporting it as a gift on their statement of economic interest forms or facing limits on the value. Campaign spending is reported separately.
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