Thursday, September 17, 2009

Steve Shannons Will Fight Public Corruption As AG, But Will Ken Cuccinelli?

There has been a lot of talk lately about how Phil Hamilton was negotiating salary with ODU at the same time that he using his status as a member of the House of Delegates to request funding for that very same job and other projects at ODU. This move obviously reeks of corruption, but yet Hamilton remains in office and is currently seeking another term. The fact that Hamilton is seeking another term after using his office in order to create another job for himself is a prime example of why the laws surrounding public corruption need to change. Fortunately, Steve Shannon appears to understand that we need more transparency and stricter penalties for those who so blatantly engage in corrupt behavior.
"Public corruption is a public safety issue," he said. "It's not something that should simply go to the voters for a referendum."

Shannon said that if he is elected, he would increase the penalties on conflicts of interest and increase transparency in Richmond to further discourage lawmakers from using their influence for personal gain.

"Our laws are weak," Shannon said. "They're outdated."
Of course Phil Hamilton continues to claim that he did nothing wrong and that this is just a partisan move. I think that's something we really need to look at. Hamilton is essentially arguing that fighting public corruption is a partisan agenda, even though this is an issue that truly shouldn't include partisanship. Steve Shannon clearly understands that as he isn't just calling for an investigation into Hamilton's actions, but wants to implement tougher penalties on corruption in all cases no matter what party the offender is affiliated with. Ken Cuccinelli, however, is the only statewide candidate from either party who hasn't called upon Hamilton to resign.

So when it comes down to deciding which candidate for Attorney General will do more to fight public corruption, I think the response to the Hamilton situation provide us with a very clear picture. Steve Shannon has said that "Del. Hamilton's actions are intolerable" and serve as a reminder of the work that must be done to address the issue of public corruption. Ken Cuccinelli, on the other hand, has stood by Hamilton despite his dishonest behavior.

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