McDonnell can't recall issuing civil demand similar to Cuccinelli's request to U-Va.
As Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) faces criticism for issuing a civil inveistgation demand, essentially a civil subpoena, to the University of Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said today that he does not recall issuing any similar civil demands to state agencies during the more than three years he served as Virginia's attorney general.
Meeting with reporters following signing bills related to job creation, McDonnell said he referred questions about the civil demand to Cuccinelli's office. McDonnell added that he had issued CIDs when he held the state's top legal job before his election last year as governor--but only to private companies.
"It was mainly that I recall private sector companies in consumer cases or health care providers in Medicaid fraud cases, or then some other select ones where that was the best method available to us to do our statutory duty," he said. "I don't remember one that was done for a state agency."
Cuccinelli has said is investigating the possibility that global warming scientist Michael Mann, who worked at the university until 2005, defrauded taxpayers as he sought grant money. McDonnell begged off when asked about criticisms by academics that Cuccinelli's investigation could dissuade research scientists engaged in controversial work away from coming to Virginia.
"I can only tell you that I have to let you defer to the attorney general on what he's doing, why he's doing it. He's seperately elected," McDonnell said. "What the attorney general's theories are--I only know what I read in the paper, and I've not spoken with him."
Meanwhile, as various groups prepare to ask the university's Board of Visitors to resist Cuccinelli's subpoena, the attorney general's office confirms he believes his office has no conflict of interest that would prevent it from representing the university's visitors, as they decide how to respond.
Under Virginia law, state agencies receive legal services from the attorney general's office and are not allowed to engage outside counsel, unless the attorney general certifies to the governor that he believes a conflict exists. In that instance, the governor would appoint a special counsel.
The governor can also unilaterally declare that the attorney general is unable to offer legal counsel and appoint a special counsel.
State law also specifically allows the AG's office to represent both sides in a given case.
In an email, Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein said, "This office does not believe a conflict exists. The division responsible for advising UVa has been firewalled from the rest of the AG's office in any matters that may pertain to this investigation."
Under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, the university's Board of Visitors would have to file in court within 21 days of receiving the April 23 document if it wanted block it.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats have begun stepping up criticisms of Cuccinelli over the subpoena. The Democratic Party of Virginia released a statement accusing Cuccinelli of abusing his office "to meddle in the affairs of Virginia's public colleges and universities in pursuit of his own personal, political agenda."
And State Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun), who is said to be considering a run for attorney general in 2013, said in a statement, "On its face this seems to be a serious abuse of the power of the Attorney General. This is Virginia, since when do we investigate professors when we disagree with them?"
May 5, 2010; 4:04 PM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia
Save & Share: Previous: Obey retirement boosts Moran's clout
Next: U-Va. faculty senate: Cuccinelli actions 'directly threaten academic freedom'
Posted by: jeffersonian1 | May 5, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MarilynManson | May 6, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: SensibleCentrist | May 6, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: boatbrain | May 6, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aclearview | May 9, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Russell_P_Davis | May 9, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Russell_P_Davis | May 9, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.