Virginia Senator John Edwards wants answers.
A new law passed in the 2013 General Assembly session grants the Attorney General enhanced authority in the prosecution of alleged violations of the election laws and the independent authority to conduct investigations and prosecute violations. Before that it took a unanimous vote by the State Board of Elections to refer an election violation to the Attorney General’s Office.
Virginia Senator John Edwards sent a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on June 12 citing the Virginia Bars Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 1.7). He asked for an opinion from Mr. Cuccinelli.
Sen. Edwards wrote: “In view of the new legislation granting enhanced authority to the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute alleged violations of the election laws, and In light of Rule 1.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, I am requesting an opinion of the Attorney General’s role when the Attorney General is a candidate for political office in the same election which Is under Investigation.”
In other words in the event of a violation of election law by an attorney general campaigning for higher office would there not be a conflict of interest.
Sen. Edwards will wait for Cuccinelli’s opinion. CLICK HERE FOR THE LETTER.
When asked after his nomination at the Republican Convention if he would step down as attorney general, Cuccinelli said at his stop at Roanoke’s Landmark Aviation, “why should I.”
“It’s the attorney general’s position that he would recuse himself from investigating any alleged election violations in the governor’s race,” said communications director Brian Gottstein.
Cuccinelli has had to recuse himself from the case involving multiple gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie William to Governor Bob McDonnell. Cuccinelli himself received $18,000 in gifts some of which he had forgotten to disclose. He also purchased stock in Star Scientific which he has since sold. An independent Richmond Commonwealth Attorney found no wrongdoing with caveats.
In an interview in March of 2012 Cuccinelli admitted that the State Board of elections was a “toothless tiger” in that they had no prosecutory power.
He added that there are two ways to look at this from an investigative standpoint. “You can either have a low threshold for suspicion and that doesn’t presume they are doing anything wrong but you police it more vigorously or you have more investigations but than you have a smaller percent of those investigations resulting in conclusions of wrongdoing – either civil wrongdoing or criminal wrongdoing. Or you have this really high standard where you don’t even look essentially until somebody basically brings you a criminal case and drops it in your lap.”
“I think we are far more the latter,” he said. “I don’t think that is an ideal way to operate. I don’t think it encourages trust by the people of Virginia”
For the state board members to refer a possible law infringement to the AGO they have to have a 3-0 vote. One of three could block it. ”That is ludicrous,” said Cuccinelli.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Election 2013, Elections, Politics, State Politics
Tags: attorney_general, cuccinelli, Edwards, law, state_senate