McClellan, Stamos: Cuccinelli should explain refusal to support Violence Against Women Act
Democratic State Del. Jennifer McClellan and Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos condemned the failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and asked Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to explain why he refused to join 47 other state attorneys general in asking congress to pass the law.
“If Ken Cuccinelli has proved anything, it’s that he’s not shy about injecting himself into federal issues,” said McClellan. “From lawsuits over health care, environmental protections and even academic freedom at the University of Virginia, our Attorney General has never hesitated to use taxpayer resources to pursue his own activist agenda.
“In light of that activism, Virginians deserve to know why he was one of only three Attorneys General in the country who refused urge congress to reauthorize this law that is so important to preventing domestic violence in Virginia.”
Stamos continued, “As the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County I have seen all too closely the devastating impact that domestic violence has on Virginia families and our community as a whole. That’s why a law like the Violence Against Women Act is so critical to preventing domestic violence and prosecuting the criminals who commit these horrible acts.
“I was disappointed to see Republicans in congress fail to pass the reauthorization, and to see our own attorney general refuse to support it while such critical support for domestic violence victims and prevention efforts hung in the balance.”
Cuccinelli was one of just three attorneys general to refuse to sign his name to a letter asking the U.S. House to reauthorize the law that provides valuable domestic violence prevention services and support for victims. He has yet to explain what about the law he deemed unworthy of supporting to his fellow Republicans in congress.
Since its passage in 1994 the Violence Against Women Act has offered resources for state and local domestic violence prevention and victim support programs. The failure of its reauthorization last week puts critical support for law enforcement, prosecutors and community groups across Virginia at risk.
Updated: 4:48 p.m. with response from the AG’s office
It’s beyond comprehension how anyone could seriously try to blame a single state attorney general because 535 members of the U.S. Congress didn’t pass a piece of legislation. Additionally, the McClellan/Stamos post claims, “He has yet to explain what about the law he deemed unworthy of supporting to his fellow Republicans in congress.” That’s just not true. In an article in the Washington Times and an op-ed in the Roanoke Times back in April 2012, the reasons were explained very clearly, just as they are below:
Though our office receives regular requests to sign support letters for federal legislation, past experience with sign-on letters has shown that when the legislation gets amended to a point where we can no longer support it, this office’s original indication of support is still used to advocate for the legislation, even when that may be to the detriment of Virginians. To avoid that situation, we instituted a policy of rarely signing letters of support for bills still subject to amendment.
This is an across-the-board policy, and one that has been applied irrespective of whether we support or oppose the underlying federal bill. For example, at the same time we did not sign onto the VAWA letter, we also declined a request from the National Rifle Association to sign on to a support letter.
For your additional information, the attorney general’s office does a great deal for victims of domestic violence, including:
- providing a statewide facilitator who assists state agencies and other organizations in implementing domestic violence programs and enhancing cooperation among them;
- producing an Annual Report on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia and reporting on the status of the above programs to the General Assembly each year;
- providing training and technical assistance to local and state prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim/witness personnel, and victim advocates;
- recognizing localities that have created innovative responses to domestic violence, so their best practices can be shared with other communities;
- · running the Address Confidentiality Program — a mail-forwarding service for victims that keeps their addresses confidential;
- · and working with Verizon Wireless on its HopeLine Program, where this office assists with the collection of cell phones to donate to victims in protective shelters.
The Office of the Attorney General’s web site also provides resources and information for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at ag.virginia.gov (click on the “Programs and Resources” tab and click the Domestic Violence link). Virginians may also contact our office by email email@example.com.