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    UPDATE: Ramadan under fire for trip to Taiwan

    Update: May 20, 4:28 p.m.

    Del. David Ramadan (R-87th) announced Monday afternoon he'll amend his financial disclosure form in order to report a 2012 trip to Taiwan that has brought scrutiny to the first-term lawmaker who represents portions of Loudoun and Prince William counties.

    Ramadan estimated he'll expense the trip, paid for by the Taiwanese government, at more than $7,500. He has repeatedly said the mission of the trip was to expand economic development opportunities within the state.

    "As a co-founder and co-chairman of the Business Development Caucus in the Virginia House, job creation for our community is my top priority and will always be," Ramadan said. "Since learning that those accompanying me on the trip from other districts around Virginia have filed amendments to their financial disclosure reports reflecting the trip -- as recently as couple days ago -- I have decided out of an abundance of caution and my continuous belief in full transparency to voluntarily amend my statements as well."

    Several of Ramadan's updates on Twitter during the trip include “had a great briefing by the deputy Director of the American Institute in Taiwan ...” and “On a 220 miles per hour train from Taiwan to Hsinchu for meetings at Hsinchu Science Park” on July 9 and “briefing at the U.S. Grains Council in Taipei then visiting with importers …” on July 11.

    Ramadan is being challenged this November by Democrat John Bell. The Bell campaign questioned the sincerity of Ramadan's reconsideration.

    "After first angrily refusing to disclose information about the trip it took multiple days of bad press and political fall out for Ramadan to report thousands of dollars in gifts from a foreign government- this is neither voluntary nor abundantly cautious," Joe Hamill, Bell's campaign manager, said.


    Original story: May 17

    State Del. David Ramadan (R-87th) did not officially disclose a trip to Taiwan that two of his General Assembly colleagues deemed significant enough to report.

    Ramadan described the 2012 trip to Asia as an economic development venture in which he marketed Virginia's business-friendly environment. He was accompanied by Republican state Sens. Williams Carrico and Bryce Reeves and Del. Kathy Byron.

    Reeves and Carrico disclosed the trip, paid for by the Taiwanese government, as a gift worth $4,000 while Byron and Ramadan did not, The News and Advance in Lynchburg first reported this week.

    Ramadan said the two lawmakers who included the overseas travel on their economic interest statements did so voluntarily to avoid the “political cheap shots."

    “This is a cheap political ploy my opponent is trying to make. Politicians today, they want to avoid the cheap shots, which is why my colleagues disclosed this trip when they didn't have to,” Ramadan told the Times-Mirror Thursday.

    “We're no longer talking about issues – it's all about cheap shots. I haven't heard one issue yet from my opponent,” he continued.

    Ramadan's presumed Democratic challenger in this November's election, retired Air Force Maj. John Bell, was quick Thursday to admonish Ramadan's decision not disclose the information.

    "David Ramadan needs to come clean and explain why he's hiding special gifts he's received from foreign governments," Bell said in a prepared statement. "In the wake of the Star Scientific scandal this is becoming a disturbing trend … Virginians need to know we can trust our leaders.”

    The news of Ramadan's decision not to report the trip comes after weeks of Democratic attacks against Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Democrats have accused the officials of not properly disclosing gifts they received from political donor Jonnie Williams, the CEO of supplement manufacturer Star Scientific.

    While admitting he didn't officially report the trip on an economic interest statement, Ramadan said “there was no hiding” the venture. The Loudoun and Prince William state delegate highlighted the trip through his Twitter account and public Facebook page and noted it in a constituent newsletter, he said.

    Ramadan maintains he wasn't required to officially disclose on the trip, but the Virginia code appears to state otherwise.

    A key point of the code pertaining to financial disclosures states "'gift'" means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance or other item having monetary value. It includes services as well as gifts of transportation, local travel, lodgings and meals, whether provided in-kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.”

    Responding to Ramadan's charge that their campaign has been focused solely on attacks, Bell campaign manager Joe Hamill said “government transparency is a real and important issue.”

    “We need to be able to trust that our leaders are telling us the truth and the whole truth - especially when it involves large gifts from foreign governments,” Hamill said. “If he thinks $4,000 from the Taiwanese government doesn't count as a gift what else has he decided Virginians don't need to know about?”


    Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Comments

    Is this like the Matire, York, Clark and Hatrick trips for business and education purposes.


    I’m curious - now that you’re back from Taiwan David, what job opportunities now await Virginians from Taiwan ?  Reporter, can you please do a follow-up and let us know ?  Thanks a bunch !


    I can’t wait for all the great economic development opportunities to come into Virginia from this trip….. Perhaps you’ll visit Syria next???


    Oh, nooooooooooooo, say it ain’t so Joe.  Don’t fall for the cheap political trick!  Oh, well, I guess we all have to say, that the mightest of us has fallen on his sword, has admitted he done wrong.  Buuuuuuuuuuut, there is still hope for us.  Maybe, just maybe, ol’ Joe will decide he misspoke, and reverse himself, and state without a doubt that he done no wrong.


    What’s vexing is Ramadan has now “amended” the original $4,000 gift (based on his own quote in the 5/17 story) and now he will be reporting $7,500 worth of gifts from a foreign government.

    So does this mean the two other State Senators under reported their initial gift?  Or did Ramadan get the conversion rate of the “new” Taiwanese Dollar to the USD twisted? 

    I can’t help but wonder what else Ramadan hasn’t been fully transparent about (Silver Line, DTR, CTB, Education and voting against the Transportation Bill).


    I wonder what other corrupt things Ramadon has done as an elected official????? It’s easy to see why the public distrusts any of these politicians, they feel they did nothing wrong. Charles Manson probably felt the same way…. So David, what other trips, perks, home improvements, gifts have you received that you felt you deserved and didn’t report?????


    Dear Editor;

    RE:  Ramadan maintains he wasn’t required to officially disclose on the trip, but the Virginia code appears to state otherwise.

    “A key point of the code pertaining to financial disclosures states “‘gift’” means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance or other item having monetary value. It includes services as well as gifts of transportation, local travel, lodgings and meals, whether provided in-kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.”

    I am writing in response to the story on David Ramadan’s trip to Taiwan published online on Friday the 17th.  I am perplexed why Ramadan simply did not follow the financial disclosures protocol (see above). I think, as an elected official, to follow the rules is expected at the very least.

    After being clearly caught, it is unacceptable to me that he claims this is some kind of cheap shot. I doubt if the rest of us could get by with the same excuse within our own jobs. Right is right and wrong is wrong.  I am either responsible for my actions or I am not.

    I am very disappointed in David. We have these rules in place for a reason and it is so taxpayers don’t have to wonder who is getting money or gifts from whom.

    As an elected official, he should go out of his way to tell us what kind of special treatment he is receiving.  In the commercial sector, we have to be very mindful of any gifts or special treatment by a foreign government.  It would seem to me our own elected officials would be as open and forthcoming.

    His refusal to report the trip was wrong and his reaction to the questions surrounding it is elitist. What he did was against the rules, he needs to fix it, apologize and tell us about anything else he decided to leave off of his reports.

    Yes, David this counts. $4,000.00 is a lot of money to most Americans. You can’t plead ‘no fair’ on this. 

    Best regards,

    Kathy Stewart Shupe, Sterling, VA


    The fact this guy sees this as nothing more than a “cheap shot” is troubling.  It reeks of elitism.  How dare people question his ethics, he is an elected official!

    Just like McDonnell, do any of these guys have a barometer inside that says, “This isn’t right”?  When you use a donor’s Ferrari to come home from a weekend at their lake house.  When you go to Taiwan for free and your colleagues make sure to report it? 

    They are either trying to hide something, or they are not intelligent enough to understand the rules.  Either way, it sounds like time for a change.


    Reported it via Twitter?  This is a joke, right?


    Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeet’s see.  A $4,000.00 gift that goes unreported, to an elected politician, who then makes statemenst that reporting such gifts would just be caving in to political cheap shots.  How about public honesty?  How about telling the public when someone gives you a $4,000.00 gift.  Oh, I’m sorry.  I fell for the political cheap shot.

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