Transparency News 11/8/13

Friday, November 8, 2013
State and Local Stories


Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the embattled top executive of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., is resigning as the company’s CEO, the company said in a regulatory filing Thursday. The Henrico County-based company announced that Williams, who has been at the center of an investigation of gifts and loans to Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family, will step down after the company’s annual shareholders meeting, scheduled for Dec. 27. He plans to remain with the company as a non-executive employee for one year.

Two Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents violated policy when one pulled a gun and another tried to shatter an SUV window with a flashlight during a confrontation with a University of Virginia student wrongly suspected of buying beer underage, the agency said Thursday. “We apologize to the young women, their families and the Charlottesville community,” Insley said. “Although we reserved comment while the state police conducted their independent investigation, don’t mistake our silence for a lack of concern or a lack of action.”
Daily Progress

After fielding concerns from the Bedford County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Mike Brown has amended the protocol for license plate readers to purge information picked up by the device after 24 hours unless needed for “legitimate” law enforcement purposes. Brown sent an email to board members and County Administrator Mark Reeter on Monday that outlines a new policy for using the reader unit, a computerized device attached to cruisers that photographs license plates of passing cars.
News & Advance

Home renovations and landscaping were performed at Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s Richmond area home last year by the brother of a wealthy businessman whose relationship with McDonnell is the subject of a federal investigation. Two people familiar with the criminal probe said Donnie O. Williams, 56, was interviewed about the work by federal prosecutors in recent weeks as they continue their investigation into interactions between the governor and Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific. Donnie Williams, a former sheriff's deputy, told prosecutors that he believed he was doing the work at the McDonnells’ home for free last year, at the request of his brother, the two people said. Williams eventually was paid for the work.
Washington Post

Jeanie Langford's memory is a mental vault for the faces, names and dates that make up Hopewell's history. The 58-year-old Appomattox Regional Library archivist is in charge of making sure the more interesting, but less prominent stories, don't slip into the abyss. "I like to find things that people have forgotten about," Langford said. In a small, temperature-controlled room on the second floor, Langford works to keep a vast and growing collection of Hopewell artifacts, literature and other items organized and intact. But her job isn't just about making sure these artifacts don't succumb to the elements. It's about giving them lives of their own.

The Fairfax County Electoral Board is investigating a possible irregularity in the number of absentee ballots cast in Virginia’s largest jurisdiction that Democrats say could shift votes in the still-unresolved race for Virginia attorney general. One oddity was flagged in Fairfax County by the political team of Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.). The State Board of Election’s site shows absentee ballots cast in each county broken down by congressional district. Fairfax County includes portions of three districts: Connolly’s 11th, Rep, Frank R. Wolf’s (R) 10th and Rep. James P. Moran Jr.’s (D) 8th. According to state numbers, Fairfax reported an unexplainably lower number of absentee ballots cast in the 8th District than in the other two congressional districts.
Washington Post

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli considered trying to remove Gov. Bob McDonnell from office over the summer in response to the federal investigation into McDonnell's relationship with Star Scientific CEO and campaign donor Jonnie R. Williams. Sabato made the claim in today's edition of his "Sabato's Crystal Ball" newsletter.
Daily Press

National Stories

As the House and Senate meet to iron out a compromise on the Farm Bill, the members will have to decide whether to include provisions currently in the House version that would undermine the Freedom of Information Act. The provisions would limit disclosure of information about farming operations and prohibit the EPA from disclosing identifying location information, such as in a water pollution law.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

After a ship-servicing contractor promised to arrange prostitutes for a Navy commander and his buddies in Malaysia and Singapore in 2009, according to court records, the officer, Jose Luis Sanchez, shot back a Facebook message saying, “Yummy ... daddy like.” The federal authorities say that was not all that Commander Sanchez, 41, liked about the contractor. Over the past five years, the company showered Mr. Sanchez and other Navy officials with lavish trips, nights with prostitutes and tickets to “The Lion King” and a Lady Gaga concert in exchange for help on a scheme to overbill the Navy by millions of dollars, according to court records.
New York Times

It was a rare moment of surprise and drama Wednesday night inside the Supreme Court chamber. At the end of a Supreme Court Historical Society lecture on Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the landmark ruling on student free speech rights, the speaker announced that plaintiffs Mary Beth and John Tinker were in the audience. The siblings stood and did not speak, but were greeted by a burst of applause from the several hundred spectators in recognition of their risky defense, at the height of the Vietnam War, of their First Amendment right to wear antiwar armbands as public school students. The high court's 1969 ruling famously declared that neither students nor teachers "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
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