If elected House speaker, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn — the government relations director at a firm that lobbies the legislature, state agencies and the governor — would continue to recuse herself on certain issues to avoid the appearance of anything improper, her spokeswoman said Friday.
House Democrats are scheduled to vote Saturday on new leadership after taking control of the House in Tuesday’s election.
Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, the party’s minority leader, is the front-runner for the speaker’s job.
Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, launched a challenge to her; and Dels. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, and Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, also said their names are in the mix.
Filler-Corn has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2010 and is the government relations director at Albers & Company, an Arlington County lobbying and consulting firm founded in 1982.
Filler-Corn does not lobby in Virginia at the state level, said Holly Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the delegate.
“To the extent that there are times that she needs to recuse herself on certain issues, she’s done that in the past; she’ll continue to do that,” Armstrong said.
Although some candidates for Virginia’s legislature spend millions to win, the 100 House seats are part-time jobs that pay $17,640 a year. Many lawmakers work in a variety of full-time jobs that can present conflicts and require recusal on certain votes or issues.
The speaker of the House has traditionally had great power in Virginia to determine committee leaders and to control which legislation is heard or passed.
On a statement of economic interests filed Feb. 1, a form required annually for all members of the legislature, Filler-Corn disclosed state lobbying and consulting work done by her associates at Albers & Company.
They did work on behalf of clients in the areas of medical technology software, the internet, pharmaceuticals, dentistry, dialysis, renewable energy, and cigars and pipe tobacco, according to the form.
They represented those interests before the governor and lieutenant governor and such agencies as the Department of Medical Assistance Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
When Filler-Corn succeeded Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, early this year as her party’s leader, she said she would abstain on legislation pressed by her firm “if there is any semblance of a conflict.”
At least one Democratic activist wants House Democrats to reduce the powers of the speaker, regardless of who is elected.
Josh Stanfield of the group Activate Virginia wrote Friday on the blog Blue Virginia that Democrats should create a leadership committee that would decide committee chairmanships and memberships and refer legislation to appropriate committees. That would make the process more democratic as opposed to allowing one person to have so much power, he wrote. Before voting on a speaker, Democrats “should at least stop to consider why they were elected.”