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)There are currently no comments highlighted.