Written by on November 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

There is good news and, as always, bad news.  The good news is Virginia now has an ethics commission and changes are being made. The bad news is our public officials can still legally take bribes.  The current few restrictions are on tangible gifts such as cash. This would include cars, boats, homes and any other item you can touch, feel and own.

government grumblingsThe odd thing is intangible gifts are still accepted and are still legal. This might be fine except our lawmakers in their wisdom and greed changed the definition of intangible.  The definition of intangible is not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable…

In other words, intangibles are things that cannot be touched or definitively measured. Intangible things such as love cannot be touched or measured yet they exist. Reputations are intangible.

According to our lawmakers intangible means any gift that can be twisted to not be called tangible.

For example, it would be illegal to give your legislator a boat but perfectly legal to take him on a cruise or to loan him your boat even indefinitely. Any way you define it, the use of a boat has a cash value and is tangible.

Tickets to a sports event have a cash value, you can hold them-touch them-fondle them and without them you will not be allowed to sit in the seat they represent. They are tangible BUT not according to our lawmakers.

Oddly,  one of the intangibles that often brings down politicians is sex. While the people involved are tangible the act is not. As Lord Chesterfield (as in Chesterfield County) is quoted as saying, “The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.”

According to Virginia, a politician who accepts sex as a bribe is not breaking Virginia law as the act is intangible.

Even more oddly, some of our politicians think that to limit the value of gifts makes it better. A $251.00 cash gift to a politician is illegal. 100 separate gifts of $249.00 are not. Somehow $24,900 in cash gifts is legal depending on how it is disbursed.

If a politician wants my intangible respect, support and vote he or she will not accept tangible gifts from anyone with the exception of family, regardless of what they’re called.

Leave a Reply