Senate Democrats Lead Charge to Reign in Attorney General

Today Democrats in the Virginia Senate unanimously voted to approve a measure to take away the AG’s ability to issue civil investigative demands under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

Under the bill, SB831, the Attorney General may not issue a civil investigative demand to a Virginia public institution of higher education when the claim relates to a matter of academic inquiry or research. 

The bill’s patron, Senator Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax), said the legislation arises out of the litigation involving Cuccinelli and the University of Virginia.

“This is an issue of academic freedom in my respect,” said Peterson. “I think we have better things to do with our time than investigate emails.”
The legislation passed 24-16 with only two Republicans supporting the measure, one of them Republican Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City).

This is not the first time Senate Democrats have challenged the actions and power grabs of the Attorney General.   

“As the only elected body in Richmond controlled by Democrats, it is important for the Senate to make sure our government has a strong system of checks and balances.  By limiting Attorney Cuccinelli’s power to conduct political witch-hunts in our colleges and universities and other measures we taken, we are working to maintain a balanced approach to government in Virginia,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mary Margaret Whipple.

Last year, Senate Democrats killed the following bills:

HB965 – This bill sponsored b y the Attorney General would have given his office the power and duties of Department of Consumer Affairs.

SB416 – This bill would have put the Attorney General in charge of investigating and prosecuting election violations.  Currently the local Commonwealth Attorneys oversee election violations.
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