Transparency News 5/6/13


Monday, May 6, 2013

State and Local Stories

Times-Dispatch: When Gov. Bob McDonnell traveled to South Carolina in January 2012 to endorse GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Vestal Kelly flew there separately. Kelly also flew to Tampa, Fla., separately from the governor in August for the Republican National Convention. Kelly disclosed the travel gifts, valued at $2,400, a little more than two weeks ago as part of a series of amendments to financial interest statements by the governor’s Cabinet and staff following public revelations of Williams’ gifts to public officials.

Virginia Lawyers Weekly: A school superintendent who refused to release a student’s school records to police investigating a threat of school violence was within her rights under federal law, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has ruled. In an official opinion, Cuccinelli said the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act authorized the school chief to deny access to a pupil’s records for a law enforcement officer seeking information about a threatened school shooting in Page County.

Free Lance-Star: News that a campaign donor paid for lake vacations and wedding catering for Gov. Bob McDonnell and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has put a spotlight on Virginia’s gift disclosure laws. House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell says the disclosure rules might be worth taking a look at in next year’s General Assembly session.

Northern Virginia Daily: Efforts to study the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office remain bogged down by communication issues, a criticized study and a growing list of questions. The Board of Supervisors learned at its work session on Thursday that Matrix Consulting Group would not produce an addendum to its study of the sheriff's office staffing needs.

Times-Dispatch: Nearly six years from the end of its contract with Northrop Grumman, and with three state agencies yet to transform to the new system, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency is taking early steps to prepare for a looming reboot. VITA’s contract with Northrop Grumman to modernize and run the state’s vast computer network ends in July 2019, and the state’s chief information officer has already begun conversations with state lawmakers about what’s involved in preparing for its conclusion. The conversations come as the three agencies that still have not completed the switch to the standard network collectively are shelling out more than $123,000 a month in fees. Together they have paid more than $3 million since the so-called legacy fees began in January 2011. Virginia Bureau: Both the House of Delegates and the Senate have ethics panels to investigate alleged wrong-doing in their own chambers, so the Office of the State Inspector General was established to monitor the executive branch, government agencies and non-government agencies, like universities. But the office does not have the power to investigate elected officials, unless requested to do so by the governor, attorney general or a grand jury. The lead agency tasked with criminal investigations of elected officials is the Virginia State Police, which also requires a request from the governor, attorney general or a grand jury.