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Ruff ranks high on gift-taking list

SoVaNow.com / February 05, 2014
Republican state Sen. Frank Ruff of Clarksville was one of the state’s top recipients of outside giving and travel in 2013, the result of the Virginia Tobacco Commission spending $4,235 to send Ruff on a business recruitment trip to the Paris Air Show in France.

Ruff is vice chair of the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Joining him on the expedition was former Tobacco Commission executive director Neal Noyes.

This is the third overseas trip by Ruff and members of the commission since 2010, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in politics. VPAP filed its latest update on the personal finance summaries of lawmakers this week.

Ruff landed tenth among Virginia lawmakers in terms of dollar value of travel, events and gifts. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, who faces a criminal indictment along with his wife after accepting gifts from Star Scientific, was first on the list, with a reported take of $48,120. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was next, with $16,267 in reported travel, event proceeds and gifts.

Ruff’s total take was $6,390, with the Tobacco Commission junket to France accounting for the vast majority of the sum. The next largest sum going to Ruff was $563 from the Virginia Association to speak at a conference.

In 2011, Ruff, Noyes and another Tobacco Commission member spent more than $20,000 on a similar European trip. Ruff’s share of the costs was approximately $3,500. The year before, Ruff and Noyes traveled with then-Gov. McDonnell to an economic development trip to the United Kingdom. The Tobacco Commission paid $2,500 for Ruff’s expenses on that trip.

In 2013, Ruff’s travels took him to the Paris Air Show, an international trade fair for the aerospace business held every other year. He spent the day meeting with executives of companies, hoping to lure them to Virginia.

Ruff this week pointed to the announcement that Kilgour Industries Ltd, a United Kingdom-based supplier of aircraft airframe and engine machined products, will invest $27.3 million at its first U.S. operation in Henry County. The project, which will create 155 new jobs, is proof of the success of Tobacco Commission-funded travel, said Ruff.

Kilgour, which specializes in computerized numerical control (CNC) machining, wet chemical surface treatments and sub-assemblies of aerospace components, was one of the companies that he and the Virginia delegation met while at a Paris Trade Show.

“Of course I would have preferred they come to Mecklenburg County,” Ruff said, “but as a representative of the Tobacco Commission, I’m pleased to have the company in Southside Virginia.”

Interest in Southside among suppliers for aircraft-engine maker Rolls-Royce increased once the company opened a manufacturing and research facility in Prince George County, Ruff said. While it would be easier if all it took to bring new companies to the area was a phone call offering an incentive, “that’s not how it works,” said Ruff. “You’ve got to reach out and show these companies why they should come to this area, and you’ve got to go where the meetings are held.”

Ruff added that no taxpayer money was spent on the trip — the Tobacco Commission is funded through proceeds from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette companies — and he distinguished his visit from the Paris junket taken by lawmakers in 2011, paid for by Virginia Uranium, Inc.

Twelve legislators received a free trip to France — at an average cost of $10,000 per person — while VUI was advocating an end to the state’s ban on uranium mining.

The trip included three free days in Paris, far from a closed uranium mine in Bessines, in western France.

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What a liberal rag. What about the gifts that timmy kaine and King Maculaiffe have taken? Also what about the new rules in the senate? don't see this liberal rag printing that.


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