Special Prosecutor Formally Requests Authorization to Begin Investigation Into Stoney’s Monuments Contract

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The special prosecutor appointed in the case of Mayor Levar Stoney’s $1.8 million contracts to remove Richmond’s Confederate monuments has formally requested Attorney General Mark Herring for authorization to begin an investigation, according to ABC8 News.

In June, Stoney used emergency powers to remove several Richmond monuments, paying $1.8 million to a contractor linked to Devon Henry, one of Stoney’s former political donors. Stoney has received national acclaim for removing the monuments; The Washington Post recently suggested the move saved Stoney’s campaign for reelection. An AP story detailed Henry’s perspective as a Black contractor removing Confederate monuments.

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Kim Gray called for an investigation into the contract, criticizing the cost, the potential conflict of interest, and making the move without consulting the city council. “Our mayor had already made the decision to remove them and started doing that prior to our vote,” Gray said in a virtual campaign stop.

Stoney’s spokesperson Jim Nolan told The Virginia Star in a  September email, “Contractors locally, regionally and up and down the East Coast were contacted. The city received a written proposal from only one firm that was willing to do the work and assume the risk it would entail.”

Nolan said he believed that the city got a fair price. “In fact, [the contractor] was not initially contacted by city or administration officials but was referred to the city by another vendor that had turned down the work. Politicians who refused to act sooner could learn a thing or two from the courage shown by this black-owned firm and the crew that did the work in the face of white supremacist threats.”

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin declined to investigate the case, since her husband had also received donations from Henry.

As a result, Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Timothy Martin was called in in September. At the time, he told WHSV3, “The first step there will be a deep dive into the legal side of things and the facts. And we’ll apply the facts to that law, and we’ll determine if there’s even a violation of the criminal law alleged.” Martin continued, “We’ll make sure it’s thorough. We won’t operate on any timeline, and most likely will not be updating the public during the investigation phase.”

Virginia law states that only the Governor, Attorney General, or a grand jury can authorize investigations into elected officials; Herring must authorize Martin’s investigation before he can proceed.

Herring’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Richmond Confederate Monument” by Martin Falbisoner. CC BY-SA 3.0.

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