Transparency News 9/4/19



September 4, 2019


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state & local news stories


Former Newport News airport executive director Ken Spirito says his federal corruption charges should be dismissed because he was just doing what airport commissioners told him in arranging the use of public funds to guarantee a loan to the now-defunct People Express airline. a federal judge to dismiss 17 of the 18 charges filed against him in May. Those charges involve a series of complicated financial transactions federal prosecutors allege were intended to hide Peninsula Airport Commission’s use of public funds to pay off People Express’ $4.5 million debt to TowneBank. Spirito’s motion filed last week in U.S. District Court says the charges blame him for actions of his employers, the airport commission’s board members. The motion says use of state aviation funds for the loan guarantee was legal, since it was only in 2017, after the Daily Press disclosed the repayment of the People Express loan, that the General Assembly formally banned such spending. The motion alleges the newspaper missed several earlier disclosures of the People Express loan repayment in audits and other reports and by not attending the meeting at which the guarantee was authorized. The board discussed the loan in a closed-door meeting, and empowered its chairman to sign the agreement with a vaguely worded public resolution that did not mention the loan or People Express.
Daily Press

The credit card fraud case against former Supervisor Terry Kelley Jr. is scheduled for Thursday in Augusta County Circuit Court. Kelley faces 22 counts related to credit card theft, fraud and forgery following an Augusta County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the misuse of a county fire department fleet fuel credit card. He was indicted by an Augusta County grand jury on Dec. 20.
The News Virginian


stories of national interest

The White House said Tuesday it disagreed with a federal judge in Washington and ordered officials to reinstate Playboy journalist Brian Karem's credentials, which had been revoked following his altercation with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras, a Barack Obama appointee, marked the second time a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reinstate a reporter's pass. In November, a judge ordered CNN reporter Jim Acosta's credentials restored. The so-called hard pass allows reporters to easily obtain access to the White House grounds without having to separately apply for a press credential each time they seek entry. The judge clarified that "In granting Karem relief, the Court finds only that the White House likely did not provide the requisite guidance in this specific case — nothing more. And, as noted earlier, the Court does not reach Karem’s independent free speech claim."
Fox News

No Connecticut governor may have ever rushed to the defense of the public's right to know faster than Governor Lamont did last week when his public health commissioner, Renee Coleman-Mitchell, said she would not release school-by-school data on the vaccination of students. Within a few hours the governor overruled the commissioner. The governor's spokesman said the data will be released as soon as it is complete and verified, since Lamont "believes strongly that this is important information for the public and policymakers to have at their disposal."
Journal Inquirer