NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Councilman Tommy Smigiel is hoping that recent high-profile corruption cases won’t cause citizens to lose faith in all of their elected officials.
Smigiel was called Thursday as a witness for the prosecution in the federal corruption trial of Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot.
Burfoot is accused of taking more than $450,000 in cash and gifts over several years while he was a city councilman. He was elected treasurer in 2013.
Smigiel told 10 On Your Side outside Norfolk federal court Thursday he’s concerned about the recent string of corruption cases involving Burfoot, former governor Bob McDonnell and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms. McDonnell’s conviction was thrown out, and Sessoms ended up pleading no contest to one count of misdemeanor conflict of interest.
Smigiel worries that those cases will erode public trust in general.
“It would be unfair to paint all of us with the same brush. What one individual may have done shouldn’t be a reflection on the work that the rest of us are doing.”
Smigiel says it was “surreal” to testify in a case involving a colleague in city government, and it has raised his awareness about the importance of integrity in public service.
“It is a lesson overall just about the public having trust, and how we can continue to get that trust from the public because it doesn’t look good for the city.”