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Democratic senator sues for ‘Giftgate’ documents

Peter Vieth//September 24, 2013

Democratic senator sues for ‘Giftgate’ documents

Peter Vieth//September 24, 2013

cuccinelli_ken-2010A Democratic state senator is asking a Richmond judge to order disclosure of records that could show whether the state attorney general’s office was involved in preparing materials for the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli refused to step aside from his duties as attorney general to run for governor, and Sen. Don McEachin, D-Richmond, suggests in his lawsuit that Cuccinelli may have improperly mingled his two roles.

McEachin filed a petition for a writ of mandamus Monday contending the AG’s office failed to fully respond to a prior request under the state Freedom of Information Act. McEachin asks the court to order the AG’s office to produce the documents requested and a log describing any documents withheld.

McEachin’s FOIA request sought communications involving Jonnie Williams Sr., the Star Scientific CEO and benefactor to both Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell.

A Cuccinelli spokesman said McEachin’s request threatens to disrupt the AG’s office.

“Given the breadth of his request, the senator has asked for every attorney and every staffer in the attorney general’s office – more than 400 state employees – to drop what they’re doing and search for documents for him,” said Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein. Because of the size of the request, the office requested just under $15,000 to get started, Gottstein said.

McEachin twice refused to work with the AG’s office to trim his request, Gottstein said.

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