Previous Page  9 / 32 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 9 / 32 Next Page
Page Background







, S




is a clear and flagrant abuse of Virginia’s Freedom of Information

Act. The list is the result of the policy, not an item that went into

formulating the policy.

What the Administration really fears is that a review of the

list will reveal how many individuals who have had their political

rights restored still owe restitution, have unpaid fines, or are still

incarcerated in another state or in a federal institution. Governor

McAuliffe’s refusal to release the list is protecting only his

reputation and shielding his Administration’s incompetence from

public scrutiny.

In their rush to applaud McAuliffe, many of the state’s editorial

pages ignored the real consequences to the state. The Literary Fund,

established by the Constitution of Virginia, supports our public

schools with low-interest loans for school construction and other

essential funding. Criminal fines and fees provide the primary source

of revenue for the Fund. Now, the Governor has made it much less

likely the Fund will ever see the fines owed it from those whose

political rights he has restored.

McAuliffe’s order also restored the rights of these felons to

serve on juries. Imagine the added challenge facing Virginia’s

Commonwealth’s Attorneys, who now face the prospect of

impaneling juries with felons as evidenced by the Trooper Walker

murder trial.

The final sentence of Governor McAuliffe’s order reads,

“Nothing in this Order restores the right to ship, transport, possess, or

receive firearms.” Perhaps that statement was included because the

order was issued by a politician publicly committed to gun control.

Effectively, however, the order strengthens the hand of convicted

felons—including those convicted of violent crimes—seeking full

restoration of their gun rights.

Executive overreach, which has become commonplace in

Washington during President Obama’s tenure, is now fully ensconced

in Richmond. Having spectacularly failed at his attempt to subvert

the Constitution’s clearly stated process for appointing judges last

year, Governor McAuliffe has now moved on to extra-constitutional

actions that carry a bigger payoff: votes.

These are the all too real consequences of decisions made solely

to advance a political goal, in this case adding voters to the electorate

perceived to be sympathetic to a particular party.

For Governor McAuliffe, all of these consequences are for a

greater good: President Hillary Clinton.


n issuing his order restoring the political

rights of 206,000 convicted felons,

Governor McAuliffe inched closer to a

goal that has become the primary mission

of his administration: delivering Virginia’s

13 Electoral Votes to Hillary Clinton this

November. But in pursuing this political

goal, he has disregarded the Constitution

of Virginia he is sworn to uphold and

disrespected the people he was elected to


The Constitution of Virginia has

prohibited felons from voting since 1830. It is not a vestige of Jim

Crow, as the Governor has falsely asserted. His attempt to rewrite—

and wholly misrepresent—Virginia history to inaccurately portray

his action as remedying a racial injustice is evidence of rank political


Because Virginians believe in second chances, the Constitution

of Virginia also allows convicted felons to apply to have their

political rights restored by the Governor on a case-by-case basis,

which I support. For all of McAuliffe’s predecessors, restoring

the political rights of those convicted of felonies had been an

appropriately deliberate and judicious process. McAuliffe’s two

immediate predecessors developed and published specific criteria

for the restoration of political rights. Focused on ensuring those

whose rights were restored had completed


of the provisions of

their sentences, these criteria included not only the completion of

all probationary requirements, but the satisfaction of all fines and

restitution as well.

McAuliffe’s order is the opposite of deliberate and judicious.

News accounts understandably focused on its short-term political

implications. After all, seven of the nine points made to justify

his actions in the text of the order specifically reference political

ends. Were the effects of his order limited to placing Virginia in the

Democrat’s column this November, Governor McAuliffe’s actions

might be overlooked. But, the consequences go well beyond the

outcome of an election.

Previous governors and even President Obama made a distinction

between violent and non-violent felons when restoring political

rights. Governor McAuliffe has cast such distinctions aside, placing

those convicted of serious, violent crimes—including murderers,

rapists and sexual abusers, and even child predators—in the same

category as those who committed property-related or drug offenses.

What percentage of those affected by the order committed violent

crimes? The Governor has estimated the number at 40,000. But since

he has ended all distinctions between violent and non-violent crimes

in restoring rights, he is now asserting that information is irrelevant.

I doubt those who were the victims and families of victims of these

convicted felons would concur with that assessment.

Why, you may ask, is the Governor only estimating the number

of violent felons whose rights have been restored? Well, it appears

his Administration cannot produce accurate records of who has

benefitted from this order. Now, we have learned that individuals

who are still under the supervision of the criminal justice system—

including criminals who are still incarcerated, awaiting trial for other

offenses, or under supervised probation—have been included in the

Governor’s rights restoration order. The Administration’s response

to this bureaucratic incompetence: The Governor’s spokesman said

those who are ineligible should “contact our office immediately.”

The Administration probably should not wait by the phone.

An audit of the list could easily be performed, but the Governor

has refused to release it. The Administration claims the list of felons

whose rights have been restored are “working papers.” This facade

Hugh A. Joyce


cell: (804) 305-9595

1905 Westmoreland Street

Richmond, VA 23230

o ce:

(804) 358-9333

fax: (804) 358-4066






past editions online




By Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, 3rd Senate District of Virginia