It was only a matter of time before someone in the Virginia Democratic Party called for Virginia’s embattled governor’s resignation and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City and Fairfax County) did just that. Sen. Petersen sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell “urging” the governor return the numerous gifts he and his family have received or formally submit his resignation.
Sen. Petersen also asked that Gov. McDonnell “come clean” with the public regarding the extensive list of gifts McDonnell and his family have received while a public servant in the Executive Mansion.
Surprisingly, Sen. Petersen is the first actively serving member of the Virginia General Assembly to call on
Gov. McDonnell to resign his office if he doesn’t return the gifts he’s received, at the very least. While I can only speculate, the reason may be that members of the Democratic Party do not want to avert their attention away from the Republican Party challenger for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, who has also received political gifts from the scandalous CEO of Star Scientific, Jonnie Williams Sr.
Members of the Virginia Republican Party have also called on Gov. McDonnell to throw in the towel as governor.
Part of Petersen’s letter to the governor reads, “If those gifts are retail consumer items which you have retained for personal use, then you should return them immediately to the donor or sell them and donate the money to the Literary Fund. That is the only method by which the public can regain trust in your Office. Without that trust, there is no purpose in continuing to serve.”
While Virginia law only requires elected officials to report gifts valued greater than $50 (and the families of elected officials don’t have to report their gifts at all, regardless of monetary value), the appropriateness of the law should be discussed and potentially amended.
Virginia law shouldn’t completely close the door on political gifts of any kind, but Virginia’s legislators and concerned citizens should at least have a discussion about how Virginia’s law pertaining to political gifts can be restructured to minimize the potential for political influence and corruption.
Regardless of whether McDonnell returns the gifts given to him, however, the Governor of Virginia has been sullied as a democratic office in Virginia, and this time the issue of partisanship needs to take a backseat to the more important issue of maintaining the integrity of Virginia’s elected offices.
Gov. McDonnell should resign, though, because if he is not a good enough judge to resist so many gifts from a single donor, then his overall judgment must be put into doubt and subsequently, his ability to carry out the duties of governor as befits his high office.