Virginia’s new AG cuts 2 attorneys from public universities

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s new Republican attorney general has fired attorneys from two major public universities, his office said, marking bigger changes from Jason Miyares while assuming his new position.

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University of Virginia attorney Tim Heaphy and George Mason University attorney Brian Walther were fired, Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita Recount The Washington Post.

Academic trustees at public colleges and universities in Virginia are appointed by the Attorney General.

Heaphy, who with UVA also confirmed his withdrawal, worked at the school for about three years. He was on furlough to work as lead investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill, the newspaper said.

LaCivita said Heaphy’s firing had nothing to do with that investigative role. On the contrary, she said in a statement, Heaphy was a “controversial” recruit and Miyares’ Democratic predecessor, Mark Herring, “ruled out many qualified internal candidates when he brought in this particular college lawyer.” .

The University of Virginia lawn is desolate on graduation weekend at the school on Saturday, May 16, 2020 in Charlottesville, Va. The lawn would normally be the scene of the school’s graduation with 30,000 people in attendance due to COVID 19 restrictions the school is carrying out a virtual graduation. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“Our decision was made after reviewing legal decisions made over the past two years,” LaCivita said. “The Attorney General wants the university lawyer to go back to giving legal advice based on the law and not on the philosophy of a university. We plan to search internally for the next lead counsel first.

A former Herring staffer did not immediately comment on Sunday’s characterization of Heaphy’s hiring.

LaCivita offered no explanation as to why Walther was released. Both Heaphy and Walther are Democrats, according to the Post. LaCivita also did not say whether other attorneys at Virginia public colleges and universities had been fired.

A former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Heaphy was hired by the UVA in 2018. He previously led an independent investigation into the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Heaphy, an UVA graduate and longtime Charlottesville resident, said in a statement that it has been “a tremendous honor and privilege” to serve as the school’s legal counsel. UVA said in a statement that executives were grateful for Heaphy’s “outstanding service” and “disappointed to see it come to an end.”

FILE – In this file photo from Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, a statue of George Mason stands in the heart of the Fairfax campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Newly released documents show that a $50 million donation to Virginia’s largest public university was given specifically to “promote conservative principles of governance”, raising concerns among critics that it would compromise academic freedom. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Walther referred questions about his dismissal to George Mason University’s communications department, which referred questions to Miyares’ office. The school said Walther has been a lawyer since 2017 and “the Mason community is grateful to Brian for his hard work and many years of service.”

Miyares, who defeated Herring in the November election, was sworn in on Jan. 15. About 30 staff members were fired by Miyares shortly before he took office, according to the newspaper.

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