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Lax gift disclosures no surprise on Capitol Square

Sunday - 5/5/2013, 1:08pm  ET

AP Political Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The unfolding scandal resulting from gifts a businessman and political backer gave Virginia's governor and attorney general is an outgrowth of the state's feeble and practically unenforceable economic interest reporting laws for elected officials.

Virginia imposes no limits on the value or number of gifts public officials can receive. Reporting requirements are vague, little detail is required and enforcement is almost non-existent, and violations are misdemeanors that are difficult to prove.

In the General Assembly where Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli got their start, economic disclosure reports show a culture of swag where levels of disclosure about gifts worth thousands of dollars is often incomplete.

Virginia's disclosure laws rank near the bottom nationally in a study headed by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.

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