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Jones says politics is behind AG authorization in Stoney investigation

Jay Jones
Jay Jones

The attorney general’s office has authorized a State Police investigation into Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s efforts to remove Confederate monuments last year, and Norfolk Democrat Jay Jones is calling political foul.

“Mark Herring’s office had ample time to open this investigation surrounding the statue removal from August of last year. It’s clear he’s decided to do so only after Mayor Stoney announced his support of our campaign for attorney general,” said Jones, who is challenging the sitting attorney general, Mark Herring, for the Democratic Party nomination to run for attorney general this fall.

Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin, assigned by a Richmond court to investigate the award of a $1.8 million no-bid contract for removal of the statues last summer, confirmed to the Times-Dispatch on Friday that Herring had authorized the State Police to assist him in the matter.

At issue is that Devon Henry, the owner of a Newport News-based contracting firm associated with the company awarded the contract for the removal work, has donated $4,000 to Stoney’s campaign and political action committees since 2016, according to the report in the Times-Dispatch.

The Stoney administration has denied wrongdoing in the matter, saying several firms had declined to take the job before the contract was executed.

Herring has served as attorney general for two terms, and is running for a third term this year.

Once viewed as a top contender for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the 2021 cycle, Herring’s star faded a bit in 2019 when he revealed, in that weird week in which photos of Gov. Ralph Northam in blackface first came to light, that he, too, had a blackface incident in his past, Herring’s being a 1980 college party.

“This Martin Luther King Day weekend, we should all be reaffirming our commitment to building a more just and equitable Virginia. Instead, Mark Herring is playing politics with Confederate statues, causing more unnecessary pain to Black Virginians,” said Jones, an African American.

“We must lean into the urgency of this historic moment with actions that reflect our commitment to true racial justice, not political gamesmanship or retribution toward our political opponents,” Jones said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press