Sorry, Mr. Bloomberg, You Can’t Pay for Virginia Justice

Earlier this year I described how Attorney General Mark Herring had applied for funding from the Michael Bloomberg-funded New York University School of Law to hire a special assistant attorney to pursue climate-change and clean-energy initiatives. (See “Following the Dark Money.”) NYU had agreed to provide the funding but, for reasons as yet unclear, Herring’s office never made the hire.

Chris Horner, a Virginia resident and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, raised the alarm — entirely ignored by Virginia’s mainstream media — about the potential danger of allowing private interests, in effect, to commandeer the police powers of the state.

Herring’s bid to use private funds to hire an attorney also raised a separation-of-powers issue. While the OAG is arguably free to accept outside money, it has no authority to spend it unless it is appropriated by the General Assembly. Clearly, someone in the General Assembly was paying attention to the matter. Language in the budget conference report directly addresses the ability of the AG’s office to hire mercenary attorneys:

… All legal services of the Office of the Attorney General shall be performed exclusively by (i) an employee of the Office, (ii) an employee of another Virginia governmental entity as may be provided by law, or (iii) an employee of a federal governmental entity pursuant to an agreement between the Office of the Attorney General and such federal governmental entity. Except as otherwise specifically provided under this act, the sole source of compensation paid to employees of the Office of the Attorney General for performing legal services on behalf of the Commonwealth shall be from the appropriations provided under this act. (My highlight.)

Hopefully, that’s the end of that!

(Hat tip: Steve Haner)

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6 responses to “Sorry, Mr. Bloomberg, You Can’t Pay for Virginia Justice

  1. I don’t like the political activitism of the blue state’s Attorneys General. I feel like it is lawyers at their worst, misrepresenting the truth. But the progressives insist this is the way they want to go, once we get a majority of states blue, we can re-write history the way the progressive would like to protray it, and then progress to punish those Americans guilty of crimes against humanity. I did not like Cooch’s activism on the other side either.

  2. This is totally bogus because it’s not put in the Virginia Code but instead just the budget for the coming year then does not apply to future years.

    Surely we’re not so partisan here as to not see that.

    Would ya’ll be in favor of this restriction put in the Va Code to for all years and all Cabinets?

    • This has nothing to do with the Virginia Code. It’s all about an appropriations bill that includes the permission from the General Assembly for employees of the Department of Justice to work on projects funded by a third party. Absent a bill passing the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, this would be an ultra vires act.

      And on the merits, I’m pretty sure I don’t like any outside group – left or right – funding and providing direction to constitutional offices.

  3. Oh I’d argue that if you want it to apply to ALL future AGs – that it needs to be in the code – not just annual budgets.

    This is not really “funded” by a 3rd party -that’s just partisan blather that says if someone gives money to a college department -no matter who – and that -that college then sends someone to work on Govt staff – that it means that the folks that gave to the college are “secretly” funding some staff that agrees with their politics or philosophy. It’s a stretch .. think of how this would affect any/all college interns and other staff.

    If you don’t want it done at all no matter the college – then make that a law that applies to all colleges and all staff positions – now and all future cabinets in govt regardless of who is involved ….

    otherwise, it sure sounds like a partisan thing … aimed by one party at another.

  4. I’m with Larry on this one. Although TMT is probably correct, any such hiring outside the normal process of the A.G.’s office may be ultra vires anyway unless specifically authorized, I’d hate to have to fight Mr. Bloomberg et al. on that one through the courts.

  5. All I am really saying is that if the standard is that ANYONE who gives money to a college – that, then in-turn makes someone available to be hired –

    are we saying that anyone who gave the money is being nefarious and trying to “secretly” hire someone to work at the AG officer for “liberal” causes?

    This is funny guys. truly.

    and the premise that Jim is putting forth is totally disingenuous unless he thinks that only liberals give money to colleges who then turn around and “plant” liberals in AG offices…

    good lord.

    It’s bat crap crazy!

    But I’ll go along… lets just pass a law that says it can’t be done – period – no matter who the donor is … or who the college is or who the AG is.

    just make it not legal no matter who… rather than make it some kind of loon conspiracy thing about liberals.

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