It was only a few years ago that Rep. Goode was bragging that it was due to his hard work and clever financial footwork that MZM had opened a branch in Martinsville. Goode personally brokered a deal for the state to give a $500,000 gift to MZM to convince them to locate in Southside, with the bizarre contingency that if MZM didn’t perform as promised, Martinsville would have to pay back the half mil.
Well, as the MZM bribery scandal widened (and I understand that more indictments are coming shortly), it became pretty obvious that Martinsville had gotten shafted by their congressman. MZM finally closed down in July, just five days after losing their federal contract.
Today comes word, from the Roanoke Times‘ Laurence Hammack (who has followed this story closely all along) that The Virginia Economic Development Partnership has decided that Martinsville quite clearly owes back a percentage of that $500k, a sum that is likely to end up around $145k. The troubled city’s mayor says that’s a tough pill to swallow for a town that doesn’t have a lot of cash laying around. The Times reminds readers that this highly unusual arrangement — putting Martinsville on the hook rather than MZM — was personally set up by Rep. Goode.
Goode famously accepted $88,000 in contributions from MZM shortly before the Martinsville deal went down, the discovery of which earned him international news coverage and national criticism. He finally gave up the $88k, accepting responsibility for accepting the tainted money.
I will be very interested to see whether the congressman does what he ought to do here — personally cover Martinsville’s tab. He arranged the deal, he provided his assurance that this would be a good investment for the city, and in returning the tainted contributions, he’s established his personal financial culpability in the impropriety of this relationship.
As a Virginian, I want to see him pay up as soon as the bill comes in — his campaign has $308,583 cash on hand, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But a Democrat, I hope he doesn’t, because that would provide a marvelous talking point for his opponent in next year’s election, and then we could end up with somebody representing the district who can make responsible decisions on behalf of Martinsville. And that will leave Martinsville — and all of the district — far better off.