RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia NAACP has again called on Attorney General Jason Miyares to disband his election integrity unit.
The Virginia NAACP released records on the unit on Tuesday, Nov. 29, that the attorney general’s office provided to the state chapter after a Freedom of Information Act request, which initially required a nearly $20,000 deposit but ultimately came with a $9,500 bill.
The Republican attorney general established the unit within his office — made up of around 20 attorneys, investigators and paralegals — to work with state and local election officials and oversee investigations into potential crimes.
Virginia NAACP President Robert Barnette claimed the documents revealed that Miyares’ office did not have records showing the unit’s staff, purpose, guidelines or statutes it is tasked with enforcing.
“This unit is plainly a paper tiger,” Virginia NAACP Robert Barnette said at a Tuesday morning press conference, “a public-relations ploy to pander to the election deniers and conspiracy theorists who are the real force undermining public confidence in our elections.”
The attorney general’s office disputed Barnette’s assessment, again accusing the Virginia NAACP of “making groundless attacks that are offensive, ridiculous and without single shred of proof.”
“The Election Integrity Unit was not created because of a belief that there is widespread election fraud in Virginia – this is a left wing lie that the Democratic Party of Virginia has consistently pushed,” Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita said in a statement.
LaCivita added that Miyares has “repeatedly affirmed” that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud in the commonwealth, and again called on the Virginia NAACP to apologize to “the hundreds of men and women at the Office of the Attorney General who work every day protecting the rights and freedoms of all Virginians.”
The creation of the unit fulfilled a campaign promise Miyares made, LaCivita said, after he heard people raise concerns about Virginia’s elections.
According to the attorney general’s office, the unit was created to give legal advice to the Virginia Department of Elections, prosecute violations of state election laws, work with election officials “to ensure uniformity and legality in application of election laws” and with law enforcement to secure “legality and purity in elections.”
The records released by the Virginia NAACP on Tuesday include emails, press clippings and spreadsheets of constituent complaints that provide few specifics on the unit’s work.
Miyares’ office said Tuesday that the Virginia NAACP’s claims that the attorney general’s office has no records regarding the unit’s personnel, framework, policies and statutes it enforces are “incorrect.”
The Virginia NAACP put down a nearly $20,000 deposit for the records, a fee that dropped to a little more than $9,500 after the attorney general’s office provided a partial refund.
Barnette questioned the cost for the records, suggesting Miyares’ office aimed to dissuade the Virginia NAACP “from shining a light on the lack of any actual operations or justification” for the unit. LaCivita challenged that claim, saying the AG’s office followed all state laws “that dictate and govern FOIA compliance policy.”
This story is developing. Check back for updates.