Walter Dalton proposed a litany of ethics and transparency reforms Wednesday designed to revive the public’s trust in government and distance himself from scandals that tarnished the past two Democratic governors.
The Democratic candidate for governor proposed a plan to limit legislative leaders’ terms to eight consecutive years, create an independent panel to draw political boundaries and expand campaign contributions and public records disclosure. He also wants tougher penalties for public corruption crimes and a better equipped State Ethics Commission, the government’s watchdog agency.
Dalton’s ideas are not new, but his proposal underscores how political scandals have plagued state government in recent years.
One particular point in Dalton’s three-page proposal appeared aimed at Republican rival Pat McCrory: more detailed financial disclosure forms available online. Democrats are harping on McCrory to produce his federal tax returns – as Dalton did earlier this year – amid questions about the GOP candidate’s job as a policy consultant for a Charlotte law firm that lobbies state government.
Dalton stopped short of requiring gubernatorial candidates to release their taxes but he said it’s a point worth more discussion. “They deserve to know how their public servants make a living and what potential conflicts they have,” Dalton said.
McCrory’s campaign issued a statement dismissing Dalton’s proposals and linking him to the previous two Democratic governors, Mike Easley and incumbent Bev Perdue, who have both endured ethical controversies.
A spokesman also criticized Dalton for his role as a former state budget writer in the Senate, overseeing a closed-door process, suggesting he is hypocritical. “Dalton is a card-carrying member of the good-old boy and good-old girl system of our broken state government that has produced scandal after scandal,” spokesman Ricky Diaz said.
McCrory, who declined to comment, plans to release his own proposal in coming weeks.