Gilbert pleased with bill’s passage

Todd Gilbert

The final passage of a heavily debated ethics reform bill in the General Assembly left its author, Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, in a good mood Friday.

Gilbert predicted the bill’s provisions will do much to revive trust in a state
government jolted by the scandal that led to prison sentences for former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife for accepting illegal gifts.

“It was my bill,” Gilbert said of the ethics reform legislation. “I carried the bill last year. I carried the bill this year, and I’m just very gratified we have gone to great lengths to restore public confidence in the government, and I hope the public is encouraged that the behavior of public officials is going to change significantly.”

Gilbert said the bill’s cap of $100 on gifts from an individual during a year’s time and its other provisions represented an attempt to strike a balance between the need to assure the public that the McDonnell scandal won’t be repeated and the need for state officials to interact normally with constituents without excessive fear of being charged with a crime.

Even before passage of the bill, Gilbert said he had noticed a new caution among lawmakers this year in situations that could raise ethical red flags.

“I know I did not have any meals with any lobbyist during this legislative session, and I think a number of my colleagues followed suit,” Gilbert said, adding it has always been “rare” for him to dine out with anyone advocating for a bill.

Gilbert said the passage of two closely watched ethics bills during the last two legislative sessions should be enough for a while, despite some critics who say more needs to be done.

“I do think this is something that we will need to tweak as time goes by because it’s so complex that inevitably there will be some unintended consequences that we discover and have to address,” Gilbert said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com