Monday, February 19, 2007

Changing the rules for lawyer-legislators working with lobbyists in Virginia?

Michael Shear of the Washington Post reported here:

"The organization charged with regulating Virginia attorneys is pushing to erase an ethics rule that for a half-century has prohibited the state's legislators from being employed alongside lobbyists at the commonwealth's largest law firms."

Shear explains:

"Pressure to eliminate the rule in Virginia was sparked in part by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), who recently joined the law firm of Hirschler Fleischer P.C., a Richmond-based firm with a small lobbying presence. Without the proposed change, Deeds would be violating state ethics rules.

Deeds, who describes himself as a small-town rural lawyer, said his losing bid for attorney general in 2005 made it nearly impossible to keep his small practice alive. His plans to run for governor in 2009 will require a more stable income, he said. But he said there will be a firewall between himself and the firm's lobbyists."

That's lame. We all know that the Virginia politicians of statewide aspirations are supposed to get elected first and then cash in by affiliating themselves big Richmond firms (or D.C. firms, if the Richmonders won't have them) only after they've been voted out or term-limited out of office, not before.

UPDATE: The Roanoke paper weighs in with this Saturday editorial, that concludes the rules should be broader to bar any legislator from working together with lobbyists.

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