Democratic attorney general nominee Stephen C. Shannon, a delegate from Fairfax County, cited the employment controversy involving a state lawmaker yesterday while pitching his plan to strengthen government accountability.
He also dinged his opponent for not calling on the lawmaker to resign.
But Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, a state senator from Fairfax County, shot back, saying: "This is a pure political stunt on his part."
Del. Phillip A. Hamilton, R-Newport News, is under fire for pursuing a job at a new teaching center at Old Dominion University before he put in a $500,000 budget amendment for the center's creation. Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, has asked the House Ethics Advisory Panel to investigate whether Hamilton violated the state's Conflict of Interest Act.
Shannon reminded reporters yesterday in a conference call that he was the first statewide candidate to call on Hamilton to resign. Cuccinelli has said it should be left up to the voters of Hamilton's district.
"Our next attorney general cannot be ambivalent toward corruption in government. He must be a steadfast defender of the public trust," Shannon said.
But Cuccinelli said one possible outcome of the ethics panel is to refer the case to the attorney general.
"I'm not going to call for [a resignation] because that would suggest a conclusion in an ongoing case that I may end up having a role analogous to a judge in," he said. "[Shannon] doesn't care what the law is and that should bother Virginians a great deal."
Shannon's plan calls for a commission to review and make recommendations on an overhaul of conflict-of-interest laws and increasing the penalty for lawmakers and government employees who violate such laws, in some cases.
He also wants to increase transparency in government by compiling information for the public on the Internet, he said.
Cuccinelli said he has been fighting to make the state's budget more transparent -- including through legislation in 2008 to create a database so people could easily search for state budget items.
"I've been one of the biggest proponents of open government," he said.