Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), who is running for governor, is denouncing both Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) after Northam staffers and a McAuliffe appointee became entangled in the state’s ongoing parole board controversy.
The Virginia Parole Board in March 2020 granted release to 95 inmates, 35 of whom had been convicted of killings, amid a push to clear out prisons because of coronavirus concerns. McAuliffe appointee Adrianne Bennett served as chair of the five-member board when the wave of parole grants triggered outrage from victims’ families, who argued the board violated the law by not giving them proper notification about the grants.
The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) launched an investigation into the matter, but the investigation has been rife with controversy nearly since its inception. On Tuesday, in the latest development, local outlet CBS 6 revealed an email exchange between Bennett and a colleague that further implicated Bennett in the matter.
Cox in a statement to Breitbart News on Wednesday lambasted McAuliffe, who is running for governor again now that Northam’s term is expiring, for remaining silent on the festering issue.
“One month ago, I called for Terry McAuliffe to speak out about the Parole Board’s violations. This situation has worsened, becoming a full-fledged multi-agency scandal,” Cox said. “Virginia needs a Governor who upholds the rule of law and demands accountability — not someone who will be silent while transgressions are made.”
Breitbart News reached out to McAuliffe’s campaign but did not receive an immediate response.
Cox, a longtime Virginia politician whose campaign platform includes increased support for law enforcement and parole board reform, has been continuously outspoken about the board’s handling of the parole grants, as detailed by a Cox ad released this month:
In addition to McAuliffe, Cox railed against Northam for his response to the parole grants investigation after an OSIG whistleblower leading the investigation was fired Monday after she accused Northam staffers, including Chief of Staff Clark Mercer, of interrogating her.
A Washington Post op-ed titled “Virginia Democrats need to answer for the Parole Board scandal” points out that Mercer said in a recent press conference that he called for a meeting with the OSIG to discuss its investigation and that he believed the OSIG had “bias” against the parole board. The Post op-ed criticized Mercer, stating, “Normally gubernatorial staffers are neither seen nor heard from in public forums. Mercer apparently didn’t get the memo.”
Northam told CBS 6 after the whistleblower was fired that he supports an “independent agency” conducting a full investigation and that he supports funding for that investigation. “This should not and cannot become political,” Northam said. “And I will do everything I can to keep politics out of it because people deserve better.”
Cox told Breitbart News he takes issue with Northam’s response because Northam’s chief of staff made accusations of bias against the OSIG despite Northam claiming he seeks to excise politics from the situation.
“Governor Northam keeps saying this shouldn’t be political, yet his right hand man is attacking the whistleblower as biased just because her attorney happens to be a Republican,” Cox said. “He’s right that people deserve better — the people whose loved ones were murdered by those who were granted parole. Northam doesn’t get to use an investigation to avoid his own culpability here; he’s responsible, and he should fire the parole board.”
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.