A legal nod for McLemore

Published 7:54 am Friday, September 24, 2010

We opined strongly in this space a few weeks ago about Franklin City Councilman Greg McLemore’s apparent conflict of interest when advocating changes in the city’s policy on delinquent taxes.

Virginia’s attorney general has opined differently. In a formal opinion issued last week, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said McLemore is free to discuss and vote on changes in the city’s tax policies, even though McLemore himself owes delinquent taxes. That’s surprising to us, but the commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer should know the law better than anyone. We defer to his opinion.

McLemore, who had recused himself from tax discussions pending the AG’s ruling, now has an interesting choice. While he is legally free to advocate for a more lenient collections policy, can he do so with any credibility?

As Cuccinelli wrote to the councilman, even while establishing McLemore’s legal rights, “the law cannot, however, protect against all appearances of conflict. It is incumbent on you, therefore, to determine whether your service on the City Council will present an appearance of impropriety that you find unacceptable and that will affect the confidence of the public in your ability to perform your duties impartially.”

The ball is back in McLemore’s court. The law is on his side. We hope he gives as much consideration to what is proper as he does to what is legal.