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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Virginia government transparency law may face challenges

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Virginia,Watchdog,Campaign Finance,Kelly Cohen,Ethics,Follow the Money,Transparency

A new ethics law in Virginia meant improve government transparency may do the exact opposite.

With help from the new legislation, the public should be able to scrutinize public officials' financial data and gifts they have received with a quick check online. Yet the setup of the electronic clearinghouse may make it harder to see such information, according to the Washington Post.

Officials are struggling with the implications of the new law, including its price tag and collecting and organizing the online documents.

Now, Virginia lawmakers are considering "a simpler, less searchable system that would make it more difficult to scrutinize the records," according to the Post.

The General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe first trumpeted the law as a victory for ethics reform, but Virginia is now struggling to gather and organize as many as 40,000 forms from lawmakers, the governor and his cabinet, judges, lobbyists and officials from hundreds of local municipalities and boards.

Using the system today allows one to see Dominion Virginia Power spent more than $33,000 wooing lawmakers last year, according to the Post.

Read the full story here.

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