Transparency News 6/5/14

Thursday, June 5, 2014

State and Local Stories

More than 100 government employees turned out yesterday to take part in VCOG's records-management and FOIA workshop at the University of Mary Washington. Attendees braved through HVAC issues to hear presentations by Craig Fifer of the City of Alexandria, Glenn Smith from the Library of Virginia, and Maria Everett, head of the FOIA Council.

Maureen McDonnell’s former chief of staff says then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. agreed to help her leave her state job by becoming her lead client at a consultancy, but he later reneged,according to a draft letter she wrote in January 2012 after leaving her state position. The four-page draft from Mary-Shea Sutherland to Williams, filed as an exhibit in the former first couple’s corruption case, spells out how Sutherland carried out extensive communications with Williams through text messages, unbeknownst to then-Gov. Bob McDonnell and the first lady.

A former Albemarle County civil court clerk indicted on a felony embezzlement charge is expected to turn herself in to authorities Thursday, officials said. Dayna T. Awkard, who worked in the county Circuit Court Clerk’s Office for 24 years, is accused of stealing as much as $14,000 since 2009. She resigned in March. According to officials, the embezzlement involved altering records of civil case financial transactions made in cash at the clerk’s office. The alterations were to avoid suspicion while cash payments were pocketed.
Daily Progress

Several members of a new advisory panel, including King George County’s attorney, want companies to disclose every chemical they plan to use when drilling for natural gas. And they want the information made available before the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, begins, not after the work is done.
Free Lance-Star

Defense lawyers for a man deemed a “person of interest” in three unsolved Alexandria killings want to bar discussion of his case outside the courtroom. Ed Ungvarsky office filed a motion in Loudoun County District Court for a gag order in the case of Charles Severance, who currently faces only a felony gun possession charge there. On Wednesday, a judge scheduled a June 12 hearing on the motion, a spokeswoman for the commonwealth’s attorney said. The gag order would prevent both prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as any investigators in the case, from speaking to the news media, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office said.
Washington Post

National Stories

A Montgomery County, Maryland, school board committee that is examining board members’ credit card practices plans to close some of its meetings to the public as it reviews elected officials’ expenses. Board of Education President Phil Kauffman (At Large) said the ad hoc committee — which includes three of the board’s eight members — is exempt from open meetings law requirements because it does not include a board quorum and is not an official board body.
Washington Post


The National Security Agency's digital face book may or may not include images scraped from Facebook. An agency spokeswoman declined to divulge that information to The New York Times. The agency has managed to intercept millions of images, "including about 55,000 'facial recognition quality images,'" according to documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Those documents describe the trove of data as presenting "tremendous untapped potential," the Times reported. The Fourth Amendment is designed to provide Americans with security from intrusion unless government has good reason - probable cause - to believe a person is committing a crime. Rapid advances in technology, and the explosive growth in digital technologies, including social media, have provided new opportunities for the executive branch to ignore that principle. Time and again, it has.