RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has authorized state police to assist an investigation into Richmond’s contract to remove Confederate statues, according to the special prosecutor assigned to the case.
Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin told 8News about the approval Thursday, after requesting Herring authorize state police assistance following Martin’s decision to investigate the $1.8 million contract–awarded to a political donor of Mayor Levar Stoney.
Herring’s authorization falls under a requirement of Virginia Code regarding investigations into whether an elected official committed a criminal violation; an act that can only be initiated at the request of the governor, attorney general or a grand jury.
Martin said the approval–included in a letter Herring sent to state police–helps shore-up police resources to aid the investigation, which includes further ability to help conduct interviews.
The statue removal contract, signed-off by Stoney, was awarded to campaign donor Devon Henry, the head of NAH LLC, after several statues were toppled by rioters last summer in the wake of protests following George Floyd’s killing.
Virginia Department of Elections records indicate Henry made four campaign contributions totaling $4,000 to Stoney since 2016. The first two $1,000 contributions were made in 2016 to “RVA for Stoney,” and the remaining two $1,000 donations were made to his PAC “One Richmond” in 2019.
Stoney ordered the immediate removal of the city’s Confederate statues under “emergency powers,” citing public safety concerns.
Regarding the authorization for state police to aid the investigation, Jeff Breit, an attorney representing Stoney, told 8News, “I am sure it’s routing to interview witnesses and we look forward to their completed investigation.”
“I am very confident that the removal contract was by the book proper,” Breit said.
Spokespersons for Herring’s office and state police each independently referred 8News to the other office for a copy of Herring’s authorization letter.
State Police Spokesperson Corinne Geller indicated Herring’s office would be able to provide a copy of the letter, because they were the initial sender.
Charlotte Gomer, a spokesperson for the attorney general, declined to share the letter, saying, “we generally don’t comment on pending criminal matters and any such letter would be exempt under Sec. 2.2-3706(B)(1).”
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