Virginia gubernatorial candidate Kirk Cox, a Republican, is going after Gov. Ralph Northam and former governor and current gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, as Northam’s administration and a former McAuliffe appointee face accusations of wrongdoing over the state parole board.
“Members of Northam and McAuliffe’s Parole Board violated the law, and then government entities up the chain of command appear to have attempted to cover up the true depth of the violations here, from the Inspector General to the Attorney General to Northam’s Chief of Staff. With each development, we learn more about the poor leadership and lack of transparency,” Cox told Fox News.
Cox vowed to fire the Parole Board if he becomes governor.
“Virginians should be able to trust that their government will hold bad actors accountable, but at every turn, the Democrat administration has fallen short,” Cox said.
What started as concern over the handling of the case of a man convicted of killing a Richmond police officer snowballed into a suit filed by a senior investigator at the Office of the State Inspector General alleging she was intimidated by members of Northam’s administration. A spokeswoman for Northam’s office said “that “no one in the Governor’s Office has ever intimidated or attempted to intimidate anyone in the Office of the State Inspector General” in a statement earlier this month.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam answers a question during a press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
A recently leaked report is now at the center of the suit.
Richmond TV station WTVR reported in February that it had obtained a previously unreleased version of an investigative report produced by the Office of the State Inspector General into the case of Vincent Martin. Martin was released last year after serving four decades in prison for the 1979 killing of Officer Michael Connors.
A different report into Martin’s case by the inspector general’s office was made public late last year. That six-page report found that the Virginia Parole Board and its former chairwoman, Adrianne Bennett, violated state law and its own policies and procedures in handling Martin’s case. Bennett appointed to the parole board by McAuliffe in 2017. A McAuliffe campaign spokesman declined to comment to Fox News.
Jennifer Moschetti, an investigator with the Office of the State Inspector General who was tasked with looking into complaints about the board, says in her lawsuit that she was put on “pre-disciplinary leave” Friday. The lawsuit alleges the move came days after she sought to come forward to state lawmakers as a whistleblower by providing documents related to her work on the investigation.
The lawsuit also says that shortly after the six-page report was made public by news outlets that obtained it, she was summoned to the governor’s office. There, she said, she was “interrogated” by various administration members regarding her reports, investigations and findings. Present at the meeting were: Clark Mercer, chief of staff for Gov. Ralph Northam; Brian Moran, secretary of public safety and homeland security; Westfall, and others, according to the lawsuit.
Moschetti alleges that the meeting “was intended to intimidate the State Inspector General and the investigators tasked with making fact findings related to members of the Parole Board.”
Cox’s focus on the parole board’s issues comes less than two months before Republicans are set to pick their nominee. Both parties have wide fields of candidates, with McAuliffe appearing to be leading the Democratic pack as of February.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.