Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
A state senator says the attorney general has not been transparent about its ties to Star Scientific.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
State Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, is going to court in his fight with the Virginia attorney general’s office over a Freedom of Information Act request regarding its contacts with Star Scientific and CEO Jonnie Williams.
McEachin charges that the attorney general’s office has failed to provide communications related to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s contact with Star Scientific and Williams, a Cuccinelli acquaintance and the central figure in the gift scandal engulfing Gov. Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell is under state and federal investigation related to more than $166,000 in gifts he and his family received from Williams.
Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, received approximately $18,000 in gifts from Williams — the value of which he recently donated to charity.
Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the request is so broad and expansive that it amounts to asking “every attorney and every staffer in the attorney general’s office — more than 400 state employees — to drop what they’re doing and search for documents for him.”
Gottstein said McEachin has twice refused to meet with the office to discuss narrowing the search and refused to comply with a request to advance a portion of the costs — $15,000 — to begin the search.
McEachin questioned the cost estimate and said he wants the same records that the attorney general’s office used to compile a timeline detailing Cuccinelli’s contacts with Williams — a timeline that was provided to the attorney general’s campaign for governor months ago.
The campaign offered the timeline to The Washington Post in response to questions that resulted in a July story about Cuccinelli’s knowledge of an embezzlement case involving former executive mansion chef Todd Schneider. He was the first to provide details to investigators of alleged impropriety by McDonnell in his relationship with Williams.
“All we’ve done is ask for that information, the same information that has been given from the attorney general’s office to the campaign for free,” said McEachin.
The timing of the litigation — just six weeks before Election Day — has also raised partisan suspicions. Democrats have sought to capitalize on Cuccinelli’s connection to Williams, implying the attorney general shielded the CEO and his company due to their personal connections.
Republicans have alleged ethical impropriety by Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, implying most recently that he was still involved in GreenTech, the struggling electric car company he founded, long after he quietly left the company in December.
They’ve also criticized McAuliffe’s use of his political contacts to lobby federal officials responsible for providing visas to investors in the company.
Speaking outside of his personal injury law firm in eastern Henrico, McEachin said that while he understands the partisan criticism, the real issue behind his FOIA request is transparency, not who is asking for the information.
“If the Cuccinelli campaign wants to say that the attorney general’s office wasn’t involved, that they have this timeline but didn’t verify it with the AG’s office, then we’re all ears about that,” he said.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us