Accountability

Published — January 30, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Governor v. lt. governor: The ethics match-up

Introduction

From the highest echelons of public office in Maryland and Virginia to offices less than two blocks apart, the Democratic and Republican National Committees selected Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and former Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Michael Steele to chair their respective parties this week. As state public officials, both new chairs had to file financial disclosure forms, and the Center checked back to see if they’d been up to anything interesting.

Steele’s tenure in Maryland was relatively uneventful and his financial disclosure forms reveal little potential for conflict of interest. The only substantial outside interest he reported in 2006, the last year for which he filed a form in Maryland, was a mortgage with Chase Manhattan Mortgage. In the previous year, he had received $2,001 worth of reportable gifts, including two duck decoys valued at $250, a similarly priced Japanese tea box, and tickets, worth $336, to an unidentified event.

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele

Kaine’s financial disclosure is juicier. A former civil rights lawyer, he indicates on his 2008 personal financial disclosure forms that he owns at least $10,000 in stock in General Electric, AT&T, and Bristol Myers, as well as more than $50,000 in stock in Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Coca-Cola. Perhaps the pharmaceutical and oil industries will get a more welcome reception from the Democrats from now on.

Kaine accepted less-than-$50 gifts from author John Grisham, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, and media magnate Ted Turner. He also took $2,500 in airfare from BET co-founder Sheila Johnson for his trip to the August DNC convention in Denver. In Kaine’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign, Johnson donated more than $100,000 in campaign funds.

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