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Del. Ramadan Defends His Decision To Not Report A Trip To Taiwan

5:45 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va.  (WUSA9) -- Delegate David Ramadan, (R) Loudoun and Prince William Counties, did not report a trip to Taiwan as a gift even though the trip was paid for by the government of Taiwan.

He posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself and four other Virginia lawmakers on the Taiwan trip. Ramadan also blogged and Tweeted about the trip. But, on his gift reporting form, he does not list the $4,000 trip.

"The Department of Commerce set up meetings for me with manufacturers...and I went there to create jobs for Virginia. This was not a gift," said Ramadan.

Delegate Kathy Byron (R ) Lynchburg, who is standing next to Ramadan in the photo, also did not report the trip, but the two other lawmakers who went on the trip did report it.

"Two of us thought that this is something that should be disclosed on reports at the end of the year, and two of us didn't. Why? Because if you read it, the code is not clear," said Ramadan.

In Virginia General Assembly's Statement of Economic Interests guide, it says that a 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." Delegate Ken Plum, (D) Fairfax County, a member of the Rules committee, says the law is clear.

Plum: This is a public act paid for by another government. That's clear that its meant to be a public act.

Ramadan: This trip was on my Twitter, on my Facebook, it went in my newsletter to 25,000 constituents. I talked about my meetings, I put pictures

Peggy Fox: But did you ever say they paid for you to go?

Ramadan: I said that this was not paid by taxpayers, in my newsletter.

Plum: I think the government has made it clear. We've chosen not to limit the amount of gifts that you have in Virginia, but you have to report them. So its clear you don't report them on your Facebook page, you don't tell you mother or your wife or whatever. You tell the public in an official way in a document that's publicly available.

Plum says that the House of Delegates could reprimand a Delegate who doesn't report a gift, but he says any judgement has to be up to voters to decide.

This past year, Delegate Vivian Watts of Annandale went on another trip to Taiwan reported it as a $7,800 gift.

Delegate Ramadan tells WUSA9 that he does NOT plan to amend his report because he believes the trip was not a gift.

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