Virginia Ethics and Disclosure Update

As many of you know, 2014 General Assembly created a new Ethics Advisory Council.  The Council will issue opinions and receive disclosure forms submitted by both legislators and lobbyists. You should be aware of these specific changes and requirements:

1. Tangible and Intangible Gifts
– “Tangible gift” means a thing of value that does not lose its value upon the happening of a certain event or expiration of a given date. (Examples include a painting, award plaque, wristwatch).
– “Intangible gift” means a thing of temporary value or a thing that upon the happening of a certain event or expiration of a given date loses its value. (Examples: meal, ticket to a ballgame or theatre, travel expenses, lodging).

There is now a $250 limit on any one or combination of tangible gifts in any calendar year from:

– Registered lobbyists
– Lobbyists principals
– A person, organization, or officer of a company seeking a contract with a state agency

In addition, executive and legislative officials are now required to report any tangible or intangible gifts to members of their immediate family. “Immediate family” is defined as a spouse or any child who resides in the same household as the officer or employee and who is a dependent of the officer or employee.

2. Disclosure Filings

Currently the lobbying registration year runs from May 1 – April 30, with disclosures for the full year due on July 1. The registration year has not changed, May 1 – April 30, but the law now requires semi-annual disclosures:

– December 15 (May 1 – October 31)
– June 15 (November 1 – April 30)

Lobbyists and principals are still required to notify executive or legislative officials the summary of any itemized gifts or entertainment, but new deadlines are established:

– November 21 (May 1 – October 31)
– May 21 (November 1 – April 30)

In addition, principals may elect to waive their signature requirement on disclosure documents when their lobbyists register.

Moving forward, disclosures will next be filed on December 15, 2014; this filing will cover activities from May 1, 2014 – October 31, 2014.

Several operational details of the new Council have yet to be ironed out, including how and where the documents will be filed starting in December, 2015 plus the Council’s membership.  However, Kemper Consulting will keep you posted on recommendations and opinions of the Council, which effect you, as they are issued.

To read the entire legislation creating the new Council, click here.