Allegations say State Delegate Scott Lingamfelter attempting to steer millions of tax dollars to a charity run by a close personal friend.
RICHMOND (WRIC) - In 2008, State Delegate Scott Lingamfelter lectured fellow delegates about the evils of pricey budget amendments - so called ear marks.
"I will be voting to stick up for taxpayers not to stick them up," he said. "Sitting on the appropriations committee Mr. Speaker has been a real eye opener for me. You get a real insight into how people are willing to bring huge budget amendments and requests for things we know well we can't afford in tight times."
But it's ear marks of his own to a non-profit involved in the reproduction of Wright Bros. Aircraft that have him now under fire.
This is the Facebook page for Protect, an organization dedicated to protecting children from sexual predators. It takes only a glance to see protect is not happy with Delegate Lingamfelter.
Protect's Director of Legislative Affairs Camille Cooper says they've been trying to get a bill passed "that gives money directly to law enforcement officers to hunt down people that are raping children."
Cooper claims that Delegate Lingamfelter has in essence killed the legislation even though it would not cost taxpayers a dime.
"The chairman has refused to set it on the calendar for a vote," she says.
One of Protect's Facebook posts contains an image of the delegate with a historic looking plane that reads "Lingamfelter Alibi Can't Get Off The Ground." It details an ear mark Linghamfelter proposed this year for half a million dollars to create a school program to study development of the first free flight aircraft while protect is questioning the delegate's priorities.
"There's an old saying in politics," Cooper says. "'Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget' and that's where we get to really understand our legislators."
This is not the first time Delegate Linghamfelter has tried to ear mark big chunks of taxpayer money towards wright bros. Flight related issues. A 2008 budget amendment "provides $1,000,000 to the "discovery of flight foundation" to support the reproduction of the 1908 Wright Model A Flyer."
And then again in 2013 - an ear mark for half a million dollars to fund a pilot program in cooperation with Discovery of Flight Foundation to advance elementary school participation in aviation-related science
Lagoe also found this invitation for a reception honoring Delegate Linghamfelter where, at the time, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was a special guest. The reception was held at the 4800 square foot home of Hazel and Clyde Kizer located on 10 acres in Nokesville, Virginia.
University of Richmond law professor Henry Chambers reviewed what 8News uncovered - a personal relationship between Delegate Lingamfelter and a political donor who is also the president of a organization the delegate has been trying to steer millions of dollars in funding towards.
"It certainly raises questions," he says. "That doesn't look great. Is it illegal? No, but it doesn't look great."
8News tried repeatedly to get an interview with Delegate Lingamfelter. He emailed and got no response. We went to his office repeatedly
On one trip, as his secretary tried to get rid of Lagoe, the delegate walks into his office so Lagoe decided to stay put.
Eventually the delegate agrees to speak with Lagoe, but won't allow our camera in his office. Inside he wouldn't answer any questions about his relationship with the president of discovery of flight and refused to do any sort of on the record interview - just insisting he's the victim of "Washington style hard ball politics" by the group "protect."
While protect is certainly not shying away from calling out Delegate Lingamfelter, the questions they raise - the ones the delegate so far refuses to answer - go hand in hand with Virginia's new focus on campaign and political ethics - forced into the spotlight by Governor McDonnell's gift scandal.
"It certainly raises questions," Chambers says. "It may be the Virginia way but is it the Virginia way moving forward?"
Most of the money originally ear marked to discovery of flight did not make it into the final budgets and 8news also found nothing that indicates Delegate Lingamfelter did anything that violates Virginia law.