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Cuccinelli plans to propose legal changes in wake of U-Va. lacrosse killing

Rosalind Helderman

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) plans to take a lead in rewriting state law on sharing criminal information with college administrators, in the wake of the killing of a University of Virginia senior.

Fellow student George Huguely has been charged in the death of his former girlfriend Yeardley Love. Huguely had been previously charged with an alcohol-related offense and college leaders have said they would like to see changes to the law that would alert them to such incidents.

Cuccinelli told resident analyst Tom Sherwood on the Kojo Nnamdi show today that he believed that kind of change would be appropriate. He said he planned to review current law and likely recommend changes to the General Assembly when it is next in session in Richmond in January 2011 or earlier if it holds a special session on other issues.

"This is an area you can expect our office to take a leading role in reviewing and adjusting if we need to," Cuccinelli said. "My office is already reviewing what could have made this less likely in the event that we have a special session. I do think you can expect to see som legal changes, changes to our statutes, as result of this tragedy."

Cuccinelli was asked about a wide range of issues relating to his first four months in office during the more than 30 minute long interview.

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He said offshore oil drilling has had a "pretty good track record" with safety in recent years, noting the last major spill that took place before the one caused by last month's explosion on a platform off the coast of Louisiana was in 1969. But he said Americans should expect new safety regulations in response to the current spill.

Cuccinelli also said he was pleased that the federal government has said it does not plan to intervene in state efforts to legalize medical marijuana--though suggested he is not interested in seeing Virginia do the same soon. "It is appropriate for states to serve as labs of democracy," he said. "I'm happy to let other states experiment and see how their experiment works, and we'll revisit it a few years down the road."

The attorney general also rejected the idea that he is targeting the academic work of climate scientist Michael Mann with a civil information demand, in effect a subpoena, to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to Mann's application for various grants for his work.

"We're not investigating his academic work," Cuccinelli said. "That subpoena is directed at the expenditure of dollars. Whether he does a good job, bad job or I don't like the outcome--and I think everybody already knows his position on some of this is one that I question--but that is not what that's about. It's about state taxdollars."

Finally, Cuccinelli also offered a slightly new explanation of his decision to give staffers a lapel pin with a version of the Virginia state seal that features the Roman goddess Virtus' chest covered by an armored plate. In the official seal, her left breast is bare. Cuccinelli was the subject of national derision from people who suggested he chose the new seal for a more modest version of the image, particularly after he made a crack at a staff meeting about it.

In the interview, Cuccinelli said he understood that state law limited uses of the official seal. "The one thing that I know about seal law, and this is the limit of my seal law knowledge, is that there are rules surrounding using the seal. So we didn't. We made our own pin," he said.

He noted the state seal remains firmly in place in the office of the Attorney General, including on the state flag in his own office.

"It sits right next to me at my desk. I don't have any problem with the seal. It's just something we were doing artistically and historically and it blew up into something that was unfortunately utterly irrelevent and kind of silly. And it got accelerated because I made a joke about it. People keep warning me that I'm not allowed to have a sense of humor."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 7, 2010; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Michael Mann, University of Virginia  
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After wasting a lot of time and taxpayer money on frivolity, Cuccinelli is finally doing something that will help the people of Virginia by establishing a notification regulation. In his first four months, he has been a complete embarrassment to our State and his actions have been a waste of our time and taxpayer money. He has hurt the reputation of Virginia and made a mockery of the AG position. Maybe he'll stop with the silly stuff and get down to some substantive issues. His fringe political agenda has NO PLACE in the AG's office.

Posted by: karen50 | May 7, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how a "notification law" would change the circumstances that much. It may prevent this kind of horrible thing from happening at a specific college, but wouldn't it just have happened somewhere else? By kicking kids out of college for alcohol offenses, they may have even less structure/rules in their lives.

Posted by: wilson7 | May 7, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

F politics! eat chit congress!

Posted by: rockettonu | May 7, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Was he drunk when he killed her? wtf does alc have to do with any of this?

Posted by: rockettonu | May 7, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Why canĀ“t Kucchi just leart to keep his mouth shut. From him, even a good idea sounds neocon.

Posted by: mortified469 | May 7, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

*"People keep warning me that I'm not allowed to have a sense of humor."*

now, that's funny. at least for a god-mad right winger.

your pal,

Posted by: blakem | May 8, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Hilderman, Nice job... it seems much more objective to me than most I've read. You did not seem to try to take stuff out of context to make him look bad. Quotes seem more full. I hope you will be satisfied with the count of readers even if you do not get as many vitriolic commenters with this style of writing.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | May 8, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks also for the links to the interview. It is very nice to get context by hearing the full question and the full answer. BTW Senator Cuccinelli's 2008 mental health bill that he mentions required public colleges to obtain complete high school records including MH records **after admission**. The committee substitute that became law gives colleges the power to get the records on request. Here is the bill link Should law enforcement authorities in the state be required to deliver criminal records (charges & convictions) of any college student (not just athletes) to college administration (and their coaches) including to out-of-state colleges? If so the effect of off-campus drunken behavior including drunk-driving and speeding could be meaningful if consequences at the college impacted scholarship or athletic status.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | May 8, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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