Leahy: Virginia Democrats Need To Answer for the Parole Board Scandal

It’s been a few years since Virginia politics had an election-year scandal. In 2013, it was then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s (R) tawdry dalliance with the former head of Star Scientific, Jonnie R. Williams. Now, it’s a growing scandal surrounding the Virginia Parole Board.

The Office of the State Inspector General reported that the Parole Board violated state law and its own procedures when it released Vincent Martin from jail early last year. Martin was serving a life sentence for murdering a police officer in 1979. Similar violations are alleged in at least eight other cases.

The story has been brewing for months, casting doubt on the Parole Board’s leadership and raising serious questions about who knew what about the board’s activities, when they knew it and what they did once they became aware of the problems.

That includes members of Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) staff. A whistleblower lawsuit alleges Northam’s chief of staff, Clark Mercer, and Brian Moran, secretary of public safety, “interrogated” senior investigator Jennifer Moschetti over the release of a draft report from the inspector general’s office that exposed a pattern of Parole Board missteps and questionable activity.

Mercer added to his role in the affair recently,  telling reporters gathered for an update on the state’s coronavirus response that he and others “went into that meeting thinking there was bias and lack of objectivity” in the inspector general’s report and that “we left that meeting knowing that there was bias and lack of objectivity in that report.”

Normally, gubernatorial staffers are neither seen nor heard in public forums. Mercer apparently didn’t get that memo.

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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