Transparency News, 10/19/21


October 19, 2021
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state & local news stories

Dominion Energy’s chief executive on Monday said he did not know that a Democratic political action committee Dominion helped fund would run ads targeting Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin that made it seem as if they came from a conservative group. In an internal email to Dominion employees obtained by The Washington Post, CEO Robert Blue said the company is asking that the Accountability Virginia PAC give back Dominion’s donations, which total at least $250,000, according to recent Virginia Department of Elections filings. “Although familiar with the Accountability Virginia PAC sponsors, we failed to vet sufficiently the scope of their intended activities,” Bell said in the email, which a company spokesman confirmed was authentic. “In as much, we have asked that our contributions be returned.”
The Washington Post

The Roanoke City Council on Monday asked indicted member Robert Jeffrey Jr. to consider taking a leave of absence from his office until the resolution of his criminal case. Jeffrey declined. “I am not leaving office, period,” Jeffrey said. Council members had been meeting for more than three hours and had finished their prepared agenda when Mayor Sherman Lea said he had a resolution for council to consider. In the resolution’s 275 words, the council made its first substantive remarks about Jeffrey since the councilman was charged with financial crimes this summer. “The continued presence of council member Robert Jeffrey at council meetings inhibits the effectiveness of council by distracting the public from the business of the city,” the resolution read in part. The last-minute addition to the evening’s business received two votes, one adding the resolution to the agenda and another adopting it. Both measures passed 6-0, with Jeffrey recusing himself.
The Roanoke Times

Brandon Shields, a former Turner Ashby High School varsity boys basketball coach and English teacher, is under investigation by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, according to Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson. Shields "is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation," Hutcheson said. He said the investigation into Shields began on Sept. 13 but he could not release what the investigation is in regards to. "It's active and ongoing at this time, and there's no details we're able to release," Hutcheson said. The south Rockingham County high school did not provide a reason for Shields' resignation, and Shields did not respond to texts sent by the Daily News-Record on Oct. 4. Rockingham County Public Schools Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said he could not comment on the investigation into Shields. Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst also declined to comment due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Daily News Record

Chip Boyles this week became Charlottesville’s fifth city manager to leave the post in less than five years. That is an unprecedented level of turnover in the city’s top position — and the upheaval is not limited to the city manager’s office.  In an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow this week, Councilor Michael Payne rattled off the turnover he’s seen in his less than two years on council. It’s not altogether uncommon for a local government to experience this type of instability, said Charles Hartgrove, the director of the Virginia Institute of Government at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. And when it does, the first major issue a government will experience is an inability to execute long term plans.
Charlottesville Tomorrow
stories from around the country
Donald Trump is suing the Jan. 6 select committee and the National Archives to block the release of his White House’s records related to the Capitol attack. The former president’s lawyers filed the 26-page suit in D.C. district court on Monday, declaring the committee's investigation “a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition.” It names the Jan. 6 panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and the national archivist, David Ferriero, along with the committee and the archives themselves. Trump’s suit also zeroes in on the Presidential Records Act, the federal law governing access to White House documents. Trump’s lawyers argue that if the Act permits a sitting president to overrule a former president on privilege, then it’s unconstitutional. That question has never been fully fought out in court. The complaint argues the court should also block the Archives from sharing materials that Trump deems privileged. Many legal experts hold that only the sitting president can assert executive privilege. But a court has never ruled on whether — and just how far — that privilege extends after a president leaves office.