GOP attorney general in Virginia ousts Jan. 6 investigator from university job

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“It is common practice for an incoming administration to appoint new staff that share the philosophical and legal approach of the Attorney General,” Miyares’ spokesperson, Victoria LaCavita, told CNBC on Monday. 

She told the the Associated Press 24 hours before, however, that the decision to hire Heaphy initially was “controversial” and the termination came after a review of his legal decisions “made over the last couple of years.” 

LaCavita also told AP in her initial statement that the commonwealth’s former attorney general, Mark Herring, “excluded many qualified internal candidates when he brought in this particular counsel.” 

Herring’s onetime chief of staff Michael Kelly said that the assessment of Heaphy was incorrect and that he was celebrated in the community.  

Heaphy served as the university’s chief lawyer since 2018 but went on leave to work for the committee. 

Scott Surovell, the senior-most Democrat in the Virginia State Senate, slammed the decision, saying it was “purely payback for Jan. 6.”

“There is no other reason that makes sense,” Surovell told The New York Times. 

Surovell emphasized that typically, decisions to remove a university’s counsel would be left to the school’s board of visitors and president. 

Heaphy’s name may ring some bells for those who closely tracked the aftermath of the deadly 2017 white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heaphy authored an independent report on the event which was sharply critical of how area police managed protests in the usually sleepy suburb near Richmond. 

Charlottesville Critical In… by Daily Kos

In a public statement, Heaphy said that he was “disappointed” to see his time at UVA come to an end. But Heaphy was diplomatic, saying the school would “thrive” nonetheless. 

In addition to his removal, Virginia’s new GOP attorney general also fired Brian Walther, the top counsel for George Mason University. The Washington Post also reported that Miyares, who was only sworn in 10 days ago, has already terminated nearly 30 staffers from the Virginia attorney general’s office. 



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