Rep. Virgil Goode appears to be coming around on what to do with his ill-gotten MZM gains. In today’s Danville Register and Bee they have an editorial (which actually became available on-line yesterday) calling for Goode to return “every last penny” of the hundred grand that he’s received from MZM. This is the Register and Bee, it’s worth restating — if there’s any editorial board in this world that supports Rep. Goode, it’s them. They wrote:
[T]he MZM money Goode has taken over the last few years threatens to make him look like a career politician who is too interested in raking in campaign contributions to care about where they come from.
Goode is better than that.
MZM is a defense contractor, and during the last two election cycles, it has been Goode’s largest single contributor. Last summer, responding to a story that several MZM employees may have been coerced into giving money to him, Goode offered to return any contribution if asked because he didn’t want money that wasn’t “freely and voluntarily” given.
What has changed since then?
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes and resigned his seat. Cunningham has implicated the former president of MZM in the case, and an investigation is continuing.
That’s why Goode needs to return the money he has received from MZM — all of it.
In light of that, it comes as no great surprise that Blair Goldstein writes in today’s Lynchburg News & Advance that Goode may contribute the total sum to area non-profits:
“I will not be inclined to give (the money) back to the MZM PAC, I would prefer to give it to charity,” Goode said.
He said he is currently looking into how to legally give the money away.
This would make Goode the last to try to make good on the money that MZM (rightly or wrongly) considered bribe money, with Rep. Katherine Harris already having changed her mind about her $51,000 (her money is going to charity) and Sen. Elizabeth Dole having returned her $6,000 last summer.
What may have something to do with Goode’s timing is Bern Ewert’s announcement of his candidacy for Goode’s House seat yesterday, in which he spoke of the need for Goode to return both the MZM money and the money that he’s accepted from Tom DeLay’s PAC. Regardless of whether Goode sees Ewert or fellow Democratic challenger Al Weed as a real threat, Ewert and Weed will be able able to spend the next year attacking Goode for the MZM money if Goode doesn’t give it up.
Of course, even if Goode does give it up, that doesn’t end the question of whether there was any vote-buying taking place (of which there is only circumstantial evidence), or whether Goode was receiving money under the table in the manner of Duke Cunningham (of which there is neither evidence nor accusations), but it does make it possible for Goode to quickly and easily end the discussion, and simplifies the delivery of the “clean as newly fallen snow” rebuttal.
Naturally, Goode won’t be content to quietly give the money away, in the manner of true philanthropists, or those who candidates who feel genuine contrition for accepting money inappropriately. He’ll write a couple of huge checks, making sure that they’re three feet wide, and deliver them on the steps of a courthouse with some cameras around. But that’s par for the course.