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Lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson has repeatedly tripped over campaign finance rules.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
It’s not clear that E.W. Jackson is intentionally trying to hide information about donations made to his campaign. If so, he’s been remarkably unsuccessful.
The candidate for lieutenant governor has received repeated reminders this summer that the best way to attract the roving spotlight is to miss a reporting deadline or otherwise run afoul of the rules.
Most recently, Jackson failed to disclose free airplane flights donated to Republican candidates by the company that operates Loan Max title lending outlets. Ticketmates Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain both reported the in-kind donation. Jackson campaign workers later said they had overlooked an email notifying the campaign that the trip was valued at $9,000 for each of the three candidates.
Previously, Jackson had to amend his July campaign finance report after failing to identify donors who had given him a total of $48,000. And in June, he was fined $100 by the State Board of Elections for belated disclosure of a $25,000 loan to his campaign.
In a state that permits unlimited donations to politicians, voters expect and deserve to get prompt information about what candidates and elected officials are accepting and from whom. Every candidate this year should be particularly mindful of that expectation given the painful revelations about unreported gifts collected by Gov. Bob McDonnell from a business executive who has a pending tax dispute with the state.
Jackson has not spent a lifetime in politics, but he is no less responsible for compliance. Instead, he has shown a distressingly cavalier attitude about the rules and about proposals for stronger ethics laws. He told a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter this month that reforms won’t prevent politicians from taking gifts on the sly.
“I think that we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Jackson said, “rather than always simply looking for ways to change the law to make people do what they already know is right.”
Swift and thorough disclosure is not only right, it’s required. Jackson needs to show good faith with voters by holding himself to a higher standard than he’s demonstrated thus far.
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