Monday, October 22, 2012

Cuccinelli not responsible for investigating vote suppression, yet (headlines failing to match the story)

A Republican employee of a vendor was caught throwing away voter registrations, and the media lazily and wrongfully blames the Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli for failing to investigate.

A twenty-three year old overzealous dweeb does something truly heinous

On October 18, 2012, Colin Small a 23 year old from Pennsylvania was arrested for throwing away 8 voter registration forms in a dumpster in Rockingham County.  It is unknown the reason for throwing away the forms, but the following theories have been suggested:

            1. It is part of a broad conspiracy to defraud voters.
            2. Colin failed to submit the forms by the deadline, and panicked.

Regardless, everyone seems to agree that Colin worked for a company called Pinpoint that was doing contracting work for the Republican Party of Virginia.

Soliciting voter registration applications and not submitting them, thereby resulting in disenfranchisement of voters, is truly heinous.

Don McEachin shows (once again) how little he knows about the law and Virginia government

In the wake of this mess, Virginia's former Democratic candidate for Attorney General stepped up demanding that Attorney General Cuccinelli investigate the actions of Colin Small.  State Senator McEachin should know that AG Cuccinelli does not have the power to initiate an investigation. 

McEachin either does not understand or does not care about the law here, and the media has taken off with the story.

What criminal investigative powers does the Attorney General have?

AG Cuccinelli has limited criminal investigative powers as enumerated in the Virginia Constitution and statutes.

Article V § 15 of the Virginia Constitution governs the Attorney General and says nothing about investigative powers of any kind.

Under Va. Code § 2.2-511 the Virginia Attorney General has the power to initiate criminal investigations in limited circumstances, specifically:

"A. Unless specifically requested by the Governor to do so, the Attorney General shall have no authority to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in the circuit courts of the Commonwealth except in cases involving (i) violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (§ 4.1-100 et seq.), (ii) violation of laws relating to elections and the electoral process as provided in § 24.2-104 . . ."

AG Cuccinelli can investigate electoral crimes as provided in Va. Code § 24.2-104, which states in relevant part:

"When the State Board is of the opinion that the public interest will be served, it may request the Attorney General, or other attorney designated by the Governor for the purpose, to assist the attorney for the Commonwealth of any jurisdiction in which election laws have been violated."

The "State Board" in this instance is the State Board of Elections ["SBE"].

Additionally under Va. Code § 24.2-104:

"The attorney for the Commonwealth or a member of the electoral board of any county or city may make a request, in writing, that the Attorney General appoint a committee to make an immediate investigation of the election practices in that city or county . . ."

In no manner can AG Cuccinelli initiate an investigation himself.  The Governor can authorize the investigation under Va. Code § 2.2-511 and the SBE, local Commonwealth's Attorney (Constitutionally elected prosecutor), or local electoral board member can initiate the investigation under Va. Code § 24.2-104.

The left gets this (mostly) wrong

In light of McEachin's statements, the left has mercilessly pushed this story as a failing of AG Cuccinelli, but only in the headlines of articles.  When reading into the text of the articles, the accusation against AG Cuccinelli has absolutely no substance.

Headlines are as follows:

AG Cuccinelli seeks responsibility and McEachin doubles down on stupidity

In response to the demands being placed on AG Cuccinelli, he responded to McEachin by requesting that the Attorney General's office be given additional authority to initiate investigations of election law violations without waiting for a request from the SBE. 

According to the Washington Post McEachin responded as follows:

"McEachin (D-Richmond) said he has seen the letter [from Cuccinelli] and suggested that political motivations could be the reason Cuccinelli is not pursuing the issue."

I am beginning to hope McEachin runs statewide again.

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