RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia NAACP said it paid nearly $20,000 for access to public records concerning the “Election Integrity Unit” created by Attorney General Jason Miyares.

The Freedom of Information Act request by the Virginia NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP’s general counsel office and the law firm Hogan Lovells US asked for all public records related to the unit’s establishment, organization, staffing, activities, spending.

The groups also requested information on how many instances of voter fraud or “election cheating” Virginia has seen in recent years.

The Virginia NAACP said Monday that the attorney general’s office responded that complying with the request would cost almost $20,000, a fee the group described as “exorbitant” but said they agreed to pay.

“The Virginia NAACP will not allow the Attorney General’s Office to escape public scrutiny, and we will not be bullied,” Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia NAACP, said in a statement Monday.

Miyares, a Republican who defeated two-term incumbent Mark Herring last year, established the unit within his office to work with state and local election officials and oversee investigations into potential crimes.

The unit will give legal advice to the Virginia Department of Elections, prosecute violations of state election laws and work with election officials “to ensure uniformity and legality in application of election laws,” according to the attorney general’s office.

The AG’s office said that the election unit, which is made up of more than 20 attorneys, investigators and paralegals, will also work with law enforcement with the aim of securing “legality and purity in elections.”

A Republican-led push on the topic of “Election Integrity” has grown since former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

The Virginia NAACP said the attorney general’s office has until Nov. 10 to provide the records.

“We will hold the Attorney General accountable and shine a light on this so-called ‘Election Integrity Unit’ in order to ensure that it does not interfere with our elections or our right to vote,” Barnette continued.

The Virginia NAACP held a press conference outside the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on Tuesday morning. In a statement shared with 8News after publication, Miyares spokesperson Victoria LaCivita said the attorney general met with Barnette on Jan. 5 to tell him “his door was always open.”

“Mr. Barnette promised that he would always share concerns with Attorney General Miyares directly before attacking him publicly. Unfortunately, Mr. Barnette has not followed through on that promise,” the statement read, in part.

LaCivita also said that “the Virginia NAACP is making groundless attacks that are offensive, ridiculous and without single shred of proof.”  

In response to the FOIA request, the attorney general’s office said: “Virginia FOIA law requires requesters to compensate the state government for time and resources used to fulfill their request. This is a matter of state law. We have nothing to hide, and the responsive documents will be provided in a timely manner.” 

Update: This story has been updated to include the statement from the attorney general’s spokesperson and the Nov. 10 deadline, which came after publication.