Transparency News 7/6/18



July 6, 2018


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state & local news stories


A Fairfax County circuit judge has ruled against a group seeking details of the Koch Foundation’s gifts to George Mason University. The Koch Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars over the years to GMU, more than any school in the country. The relationship faced increased scrutiny after the university named its law school for conservative jurist Antonin Scalia in 2016, in conjunction with a Koch Foundation donation. Student-led group Transparent GMU sought details of donor agreements with the George Mason University Foundation, the school’s philanthropic arm. Judge John M. Tran ruled July 5 that the GMU Foundation is not a public body and not subject to freedom-of-information laws. While ruling that the foundation is not subject to FOIA, the judge said his ruling “does not absolve the University of the Responsibility, as a public body, to maintain records of the use of funds and programs it decides to develop.”
Virginia Lawyers Weekly
Read the opinion here 

An editor at The Virginian-Pilot newspaper who was harassed for years by the man charged in the killings of five journalists in Maryland received a letter Thursday that police believe was sent by the suspect.  Eric Hartley, who once worked for The Capital in Annapolis, found the pink, card-sized envelope in his newsroom mailbox on Thursday. The return address on the envelope was simply “anonymous source.” It was addressed to Hartley at The Virginian-Pilot, and postmarked June 28, the day of the shootings. The letter was turned over unopened to the Norfolk police. Police told Hartley that the envelope contained an unsigned card along with a compact disc. Police did not indicate what was on the CD. Hartley said the unsigned, store-bought congratulatory card said, “Smile, you’re on camera” and “It’s your big day. All eyes are on you.” Police told Hartley that they found no messages in the envelope that directly threatened him. A Norfolk police lieutenant told the Pilot’s executive editor, Marisa Porto, on Thursday that police believed the card was from suspect Jarrod W. Ramos.
Richmond Times-Dispatch


editorials & columns


“We have represented Appalachian Power for the last 10 years or so, and [work] with members of the General Assembly on legislation of importance to Appalachian Power as we have for a number of other clients. The unusual step of [lawmakers] automatically refusing to accept contributions from a client has caused us to hold back our contributions to those same legislators,” said Whitt Clement, a former Democratic delegate from Pittsylvania County and former secretary of the state transportation department who heads Hunton Andrews Kurth’s state government relations group. Excuse us? Is APCo, through its lobbyists, finally admitting what the public has long known, that political donations and gifts essentially are “pay to play”? Certainly sounds like it.
The News & Advance