The Price Of Elected Office?

Federal officials have charged former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell with violations of State ethics laws.  Until rumors of the Federal investigation surfaced last year , McDonnell had been considered a potential GOP candidate for President or Vice President.  The former Governor has denied any illegal activity.  Here in lies the rub.

The ethics violations center on financial consideration given to the Governor and the “quid pro quo” return of favors to McDonnell’s generous supporter.  The Governor admits there were loans (all repaid) and gifts but nothing was given in return, McDonnell says.  Of course, the Governor wishes he hadn’t accepted the favors but he adamantly claims he broke no laws.  Hmmm.

From news reports, it seems that the price of being elected Governor was higher than McDonnell’s personal financial means could meet.  He had allegedly maxed out his credit card and was looking at some significant expenses like his inauguration ball, what his wife could wear to special events, and his daughter’s wedding.  Private sector executives often face the same type of expenses but normally are compensated sufficiently to afford those expenses.  Public sector officials are not.

So what are the messages here?

1.  We must overlook whether McDonnell violated any laws.  It is almost beside the point.  McDonnell  admits receiving two $50,000 loans, a $15,000 loan, and several dresses for his wife.  Who, other than someone in position to do favors, could find a person to be so generous?

One of the most elementary ethic standards is that a public servant should refuse to a accept something not available to anyone else.  McDonnell, like most other public officials who are exposed, immediately switch attention to whether some is illegal rather than where it was ethical.

2. As if we need another example but this points out the slippery slope all public officials are on.  The wealthier the official, the more careful and sophisticated they can be in applying their position to personal wealth accumulation.  Having only rich people as elected officials, however, brings its own set of problems.

3. McDonnell has been exposed.  What makes one think that the other 49 Governors or the 535 Congress members do not also have similar ethical problems?

The 7/24 news media sees this as a gift from heaven.  The Governor Christie brouhaha has peaked and what is there to talk about?   Yet, none have tied the dots together to reveal a underlying national problem.

Hmmm.

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2 Comments on “The Price Of Elected Office?”

  1. List of X Says:

    Yeah, right, loans. I’m assuming a $6000 Rolex engraved “71’st governor of Virginia” was also a loan.


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