Youngkin, Miyares Announce Violent Crime Task Force

Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a violent crime task force composed of officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Virginia State Police. Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier will lead the task force alongside Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck Slemp.

“There is a clear recognition of a violent crime crisis in Virginia and my administration is committed to joining with community leaders, law enforcement, and Virginians around solutions with the Violent Crime task force,” Youngkin said in the Monday announcement.

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Virginia Attorney General Miyares Signs Letter Asking U.S. Attorney General Garland to Protect U.S. Justices

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and 24 other state attorneys general signed a letter telling U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to enforce federal law, which they say prohibits demonstrations outside U.S. Supreme Court justices’ homes.

“Following last week’s leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, pro-abortion activists have begun protesting not just outside the Supreme Court, but outside the Justices’ homes, in the hope of pressuring the Justices to change their votes. As a former federal judge and the current head of the Department of Justice, you must surely appreciate the unique risks to both judges and the rule of law when judges are targeted at their homes. That is why Congress has long barred ‘picket [Ing] or parade [Ing]’ near a judge’s home ‘with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice,'” states the letter, written by Alabama Attorney General Steve Miller.

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Bullet Found on Sixth Floor of Attorney General’s Office; Deputy Attorney General Says ‘No Indication’ the Office or Employees Were Specifically Targeted

Housekeepers for the Office of the Attorney General found a bullet on the sixth floor on Monday evening. Officers responding to the call found the bullet and a small hole in a window, according to Virginia Capitol Police spokesman Officer Joe Macenka. “There is no indication that this incident was…

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Virginia Atty Gen Miyares Offers No Comment on Group of Republican Attorneys General Withdrawing from National Association

A small group of Republican attorneys general have announced that they’re withdrawing from the National Association of Attorneys General(NAAG), but Virginia AG Jason Miyares’ office hasn’t responded to questions asking if he is also planning to withdraw from the NAAG.

“While we have been a driving force for NAAG’s success – both financially and on key issues – the Associations leftward shift over the past half decade has become intolerable,” states a letter signed last week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

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Miyares Leads 19 Other AGs in Criticism of Disinformation Governance Board

Attorney General Jason Miyares is leading 19 other attorneys general in opposition to the newly announced federal Disinformation Governance Board launched by the Department of Homeland Security. The recently unveiled board has earned criticism from conservatives this week; in a fact sheet, the DHS explains that its role of protecting the U.S.’ security extends to “threats exacerbated by disinformation.”

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Miyares Doesn’t Comment on Four Attorneys General Leaving National Association

Republican attorneys general from Texas, Missouri, and Montana have announced that they are withdrawing from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), but Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Virginian TurboTax Customers to Get $3.5 Million in Settlement of Lawsuit over Claims That the Product Was Free

Virginia TurboTax customers are set to get about $3.5 million in a settlement of the lawsuit, which said that the tax service provider deceived some consumers into paying for services despite ads saying tax services were free.

“TurboTax took advantage of and deceived Virginians. I’m proud of the role my office played to secure substantial relief for the Virginia consumers that TurboTax misled. My office will continue to aggressively go after bad actors that hurt Virginia consumers, because they must be held accountable,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a Wednesday announcement.

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Miyares Files Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Thomas Jefferson High School Case

Attorney General Jason Miyares and 15 other state attorneys general have filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision allowing Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) to use its controversial admissions process while a lawsuit goes forward.

“Right now, there are innocent Virginians unfairly treated and punished not for anything they’ve done, but because of who they are. Thomas Jefferson High School’s new admissions process is state sanctioned bigotry – it’s wrong, and it’s the exact opposite of equality. As Attorney General, I’ll never stop fighting for the equal treatment and protection of all Virginians,” Miyares said in a press release.

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Virginia Office of the Attorney General Asks Appeals Court to Block Stay of Ruling Against Thomas Jefferson High School Admission’s Policy

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to deny a stay after a district court ruled that the admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High School for Science and Technology is discriminatory.

“Thomas Jefferson High School has been consistently among the top public schools in the country, and they created and maintained this achievement with a merit-based admissions process. But over the past year, Thomas Jefferson High School changed their policy to prioritize an individual’s race over merit. By doing so, Thomas Jefferson High School has discriminated against deserving students and violated the Equal Protection Clause. This is not equality,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a Wednesday press release.

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Miyares Chairs New PAC Aimed at Electing Conservative Prosecutors

Attorney General Jason Miyares is the honorary chairman of new PAC Protecting Americans Action Fund (PAAF), which is focused on supporting conservative prosecutors in races across the U.S. The new PAC is operated by GOPAC.

“As we thought about how we continue to have an impact and what at our core is making sure Americans have personal and economic security, because that’s the basis of American success, Americans having personal and economic security, there was a big area missing,” GOPAC Chairman David Avella said in a Thursday press conference. “That was making sure that we had prosecuting attorneys who are willing to enforce the law.

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Virginia Court Issues Narrow Temporary Injunction in Favor of 12 Parents Who Sued over School Mask Mandate Opt-Out

U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia Judge Norman Moon has issued a temporary injunction in a lawsuit by 12 parents of children at high risk due to COVID-19, blocking enforcement of Virginia’s new law and executive order requiring school mask mandate opt outs. The injunction is narrowly focused on the plaintiffs, and the order is careful to clarify that both the executive order and the law remain in effect in Virginia.

“E.O. 2 and S.B. 739 are the law in Virginia and they remain in force, affording parents the choice whether their children should wear masks to school, notwithstanding any school rule that would require students to wear masks.
The Court’s decision and injunction today directly impact only the twelve Plaintiffs in this case. The Court enjoins Defendants from enforcing E.O. 2 and S.B. 739 only as against these Plaintiffs in their ability to ask for (not definitely to receive) from their schools some amount of masking as a reasonable modification,” Moon wrote in the order issued Wednesday.

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Virginia’s State Sen. Chase Criticizes Youngkin’s Appointment of Susan Beals for Commissioner of the Department of Elections

Susan Beal and Amanda Chase

Governor Glenn Youngkin selected Chesterfield Electoral Board member Susan Beals to serve as his commissioner of the Department of Elections. The Friday announcement led to initial alarm from some Democrats, since Beals worked as an aide for Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), who has been outspoken in highlighting alleged irregularities in the 2020 presidential election in Virginia. However, Chase said she’s disappointed by the appointment, and Senate Privileges and Elections Chair Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) sounds open-minded about Beals.

“While I congratulate Susan on her appointment, it’s a huge disappointment to those of us who have spent countless hours investigating the irregularities that occurred in the 2020 presidential election,” Chase said in a statement sent to The Virginia Star.

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Attorney General Miyares Blames Fairfax Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano’s Policies for Allowing Murders of Homeless

Jason Miyares

Attorney General Jason Miyares blasted Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano in a radio appearance Wednesday, blaming Descano’s prosecutorial philosophy for murders of homeless in Washington, D.C. and New York. Miyares said Descano’s office didn’t give a harsh enough sentence to alleged murderer Gerald Brevard III when he was facing charges in 2020.

“Sometimes we hear about these policy issues, and you maybe hear about and think it doesn’t really impact people’s lives,” Miyares said on O’Connor and Company. “In this case, you had five individuals that have been shot, two were tragically killed by someone that has been classified as a serial killer. And just to be clear, my understanding from my office is this individual’s already out on a federal robbery charge. He was on probation for that, and gets picked up for abduction and burglary, gets his charge reduced to a misdemeanor.”

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Roanoke College Survey: Virginia Gov. Youngkin Approval at 50 Percent, Disapproval at 41 Percent

A new survey finds Governor Glenn Youngkin with a 50 percent approval rating and a 41 percent disapproval rating. Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) survey also found that 47 percent of Virginians think the Commonwealth is headed in the right direction, and 47 percent think things are going in the wrong direction.

“This is consistent with his winning margin in November. This poll shows that Governor Youngkin’s initiatives have received bipartisan support. The governor will continue to hear directly from Virginians and is focused on delivering on his promises,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement.

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Virginia Expects About $530 Million in Opioid Crisis Settlement from Drug Distributors and Johnson & Johnson

Virginia expects about $530 million in a settlement over the opioid crisis with Johnson & Johnson along with pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General. The companies announced Friday that there is enough participation by states, territories, and localities who were suing the drug companies to move forward with a national settlement, first announced in July 2021.

In his release, Attorney General Jason Miyares said, “The opioid crisis has devastated many Virginia communities, families, and lives. The Office of the Attorney General is dedicated to this fight and is proud to have played a role in this historic settlement, which every city and county in Virginia joined. Because of this, the Commonwealth expects to receive approximately $530 million dollars to fight back against the opioid epidemic and support efforts to reduce, prevent and treat opioid addiction.”

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Signs School Mask-Optional Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a school mask-optional bill into law from the steps of the capitol on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the House of Delegates approved his amendments adding an emergency clause and a March 1 effective date.

“Today, we are reestablishing, restoring power back from parents. We are also reestablishing our expectations that we will get back to normal, and this is the path, this is the path. So thank you all for coming. And now, we’re going to do a little work,” Youngkin told the crowd before signing the bill.

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Virginia Supreme Court Dismisses One of the Lawsuits Against Youngkin’s Mask Mandate Opt-Out Order

The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed a lawsuit from Chesapeake parents challenging Governor Glenn Youngkin’s school mask mandate opt-out order. The Monday opinion found procedural problems with the lawsuit, which in an unusual move was filed directly with the Supreme Court instead of a lower court. It also found that state law used to support rigid mask mandates allows school boards flexibility, but warned that it was not offering an opinion on the legality of Youngkin’s underlying Executive Order Two.

“By allowing school boards to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended COVID-19 mitigation strategies ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ SB 1303 necessarily gives the boards a degree of discretion to modify or even forgo those strategies as
they deem appropriate for their individual circumstances,” the court wrote. “With respect to implementing policies on student masking, that discretion persists even if EO 2’s masking exemption provisions are unlawful.”

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George Mason University Pulls Booster Mandate After Students Fight Back

healthcare worker giving vaccination

After students at George Mason University (GMU) fought the school’s administration on mandatory booster shots for COVID-19, the school Monday announced that it has scrapped the mandate, though it did not credit the students for their efforts. 

“George Mason University announced today it will strongly encourage students who remain unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, but no longer require it, in observance of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ opinion,” the school said in a message written by President Gregory Washington. 

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State Senate Committee Kills Bill That Would Have Expanded Virginia Attorney General Miyares’ Prosecuting Power

The Senate Judiciary Committee killed a bill that would have expanded the power of the Office of the Attorney General to conduct its own criminal prosecutions if requested by local law enforcement. The bill was on Attorney General Jason Miyares’ wishlist and would have allowed Miyares to intervene in cases where Miyares and the chief local law enforcement officer don’t like the way the local Commonwealth’s attorney handles a case.

Under Virginia law, the governor can already ask the attorney general to conduct criminal prosecutions, but otherwise the attorney general’s local prosecutorial power is limited to some specific types of cases. Progressive prosecutors in some jurisdictions have pushed for more lenient sentences, or declined to prosecute certain kinds of cases; that’s frustrated conservatives who say prosecutors should represent the interest of the state, not the accused person.

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Attorney General Miyares Announces Rule to Cut His Office’s Student Debt Collection Fees to 15 Percent

Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a new policy to cut attorneys’ fees for debt collection on student loan debt at Virginia’s public colleges. Under Virginia law, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is responsible to provide debt collection services on behalf of state agencies, and can retain as revenue up to 30 percent. Miyares’ internal policy limits that to 15 percent on new claims referred to the OAG, where possible.

“As someone who worked to put themself through college and still has their own student loans, I understand the strain student loans can put on working families. By working to reduce the attorney collection fee from 30 percent to 15 percent on accounts deemed delinquent by the respective universities, we are making immediate, internal procedural improvements that will help Virginians,” Miyares said in a Wednesday press release.

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Miyares Fires University of Virginia Counsel Who Is Working for January 6 Select Committee

Attorney General Jason Miyares fired University of Virginia counsel Tim Heaphy, who was on leave to work as chief investigative counsel for the congressional Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.

Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told The New York Times, “This is purely payback for Jan. 6 — there is no other reason that makes any sense.”

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Seven School Boards Sue Over Youngkin Mask-Optional Order; Sen. Petersen Threatens Legislative Action if Schools Don’t Find Mandate Off-Ramp

Seven school districts are suing Governor Glenn Youngkin over Executive Order Two, which requires schools to allow parents to opt children out of mask mandates. The lawsuit challenges Youngkin’s authority over school boards and his ability to override Senate Bill 1303, which requires schools to follow CDC guidelines.

“At issue is whether locally-elected school boards have the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia over supervision of the public schools in their respective communities, or whether an executive order can unilaterally override that constitutional authority. Also at issue is whether a governor can, through executive order, without legislative action by the Virginia General Assembly, reverse a lawfully-adopted statute,” Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) said in a Monday press release.

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Amid Legal Doubt over Youngkin Mask Opt-Out Order, Virginia Departments of Health and Education Emphasize Parents, Officials Share Responsibility for COVID-19 Mitigation

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Department of Education (VDOE) updated their guidelines to reflect Governor Glenn Youngkin’s mask-mandate opt-out order. The new guidance downplays masks and says COVID-19 risk reduction is a shared responsibility between parents and officials.

“These three core principles found in Executive Order 2 reaffirm: 1. Parents are in charge of their children’s health, wellbeing and education, 2. Schools must be open five days a week for in-person learning, and 3. The Commonwealth and school divisions must provide a safe and healthy school environment,” the new guidance states.

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Senate Committee Kills Republican Election Integrity Reforms, Obenshain-Chase Conflict Resurfaces, Surovell Criticizes Miyares for Firing 30 Attorneys

RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections killed several Republican- sponsored elections integrity bills on Tuesday afternoon, including photo voter identification bills and a bill to repeal same-day voter registration. The committee also killed campaign finance reform bills from Senators Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) and Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax.)

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New Virginia Attorney General Fires Entire Civil Rights Branch of the AG’s Office

On Friday, one day prior to being sworn in as Virginia’s new Attorney General, Jason Miyares (R-Va.) fired 30 employees in the Virginia Attorney General’s office, including the entirety of the Civil Rights Division.

As reported by the Daily Caller, 17 of the 30 employees who were fired were attorneys. Following the mass firing, Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita said that the new Attorney General was “restructuring the office, as every incoming AG has done in the past.” She noted that Miyares and former Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.), whom Miyares narrowly defeated in November, “have very different visions for the office.”

In response, Herring’s former spokeswoman Charlotte Gomer criticized the move, claiming that the fired employees were “dedicated and professional public servants who do important work, like investigate wrongful convictions, protect Virginians’ civil rights, help to ensure free and fair elections, and prevent human trafficking and opioid abuse.”

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Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears Presides Over Senate for First Time on Martin Luther King Day

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears took up the gavel to preside over the Senate for the first time on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. Sears is the first Black woman to hold statewide office in Virginia. Senators spent the Monday session with Martin Luther King Day speeches and with ceremonial introductions, including of Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) introduced Sears: “It is wonderful to have Winsome Earle-Sears assume the gavel as the lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. For those of you who do not know Madam President, she is a Marine Corps veteran.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin Takes Oath of Office, Promises 11 Immediate Executive Actions on CRT, Masks, Vaccines, and Other Campaign Commitments

Governor Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears took their oaths of office on Saturday afternoon, followed by a howitzer salute from the Army National Guard. Then, Youngkin gave his first speech as governor, with an emphasis on a “common path forward” and with renewed promises from his campaign.

“Our politics have become too toxic. Soundbites have replaced solutions — taking precedence over good faith problem-solving,” he said. “My fellow Virginians, I come to this moment, and to this office, knowing we must bind the wounds of division. Restore trust. Find common cause for the common good.”

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Governor Youngkin Issues Executive Orders Banning CRT, Ending Mask Mandate Shortly After Taking Office

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed nine executive orders and two executive directives on Saturday shortly after the inauguration. Three of the orders focus specifically on school policy, banning the use of “divisive concepts,” allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask policies, and requesting Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate the Loudoun County Public Schools.

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