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The Right Note: You Can Ring My Bell

By Mark Kelly

Thursday - 8/15/2013, 2:00pm  ET

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark Kelly

Last week, my counterpart on the left wrote at length about Ken Cuccinelli (R) un-ringing a bell.

As Peter should know, the gifts Cuccinelli received were legal under Virginia law — even if ill-advised. He also should know that Cuccinelli called for an immediate special session of the General Assembly to debate and pass new ethics rules on gifts. Cuccinelli’s position is we should address this issue now.

What is Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s (D) position on ethics reform? McAuliffe has said he supports a $100 gift cap, but he opposes a special session on ethics — calling it a “gimmick.”

It has been widely reported that McAuliffe’s former company, GreenTech Automotive, is under SEC investigation. One question mark is what happened to $45.5 million invested in what Virginia economic development officials under Gov. Kaine were concerned was a cash-for-visas scheme? If McAuliffe did not unduly benefit, why is he refusing to match Cuccinelli’s tax return disclosures?

And, what if we take a look at the gift disclosures of our other elected officials who served in Richmond and evaluate the gifts under the “Peter’s Take” lens?

For example, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) did not cut a refund check to the wealthy donor who gave him the use of a Caribbean vacation home for $15,000 in 2005 when he was running for governor. It is similar to the gifts Cuccinelli received. And, Kaine can afford it, right? Will Peter take on this gift in next week’s column?

One source of gift-giving to our local delegation also sticks out like a sore thumb. You may recall that the Signature Theater recently received a taxpayer-funded, $250,000 bailout for its unpaid taxes. All the while, Signature has been handing out free tickets to our local delegation in Richmond.

From 2008 to 2012, free theater tickets for the amounts indicated were given to the following local lawmakers:

  • Adam Ebbin (D): $1,523
  • Patrick Hope (D): $860 (3 years)
  • Bob Brink (D): $795
  • Barbara Favola (D): $367 (2 years)

Under the Peter’s Take standard, should these elected officials who received free theater tickets from Signature cut a refund check to the Treasurer’s Office in Arlington? It would certainly help offset the cost of the bailout by $3,545.

And, any member of the all-Democrat County Board should probably reimburse the treasury for any free tickets they received from Signature as well, right? They can afford it, right?

Hopefully Peter will take on Democrats on gifts and ethics as well.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.