Democrats challenge McDonnell on closed meetings

Virginia Democrats on Thursday filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents outlining Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s use of taxpayers dollars after a report in The Washington Post that he has been using closed work groups for at least one of his commissions.

McDonnell’s lawyers have acknowledged that private meetings of committees — called work groups by the governor’s office — would violate state law if three or more members attend and discuss commission business.

The Democratic Party of Virginia requested correspondence between McDonnell’s office and commission members and Attorney General Ken Cuccinell’s office as well as any minutes or other records of the work groups’ meetings for any commission that uses them.

“As the unfortunate discoveries of the past few weeks raise serious questions about your administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, I am also requesting financial records to shed light on how you, and those closest to you, use Virginia tax dollars,’’ David Mills, Democratic Party executive director, wrote in a certified letter to the governor.

“We look forward to receiving the letter,” McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said.

Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) asked Cuccinelli to investigate whether the governor’s government reform commission and McDonnell’s administration violated Virginia’s open-meetings law by holding committee meetings of the government reform commission without public notice. But Cuccinelli said his office would not investigate the situation because state law does not provide a specific enforcement role for the Office of the Attorney General.

1. Records of all communications (vocal, written and electronic) that took place between July 1, 2011 and Sept. 13, 2011, between personnel from the Office of the Governor and personnel from the Office of the Attorney General.

2. Any minutes or other records of meetings of the “work groups” McDonnell formed relating to his Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.

3. Any minutes or other records from Jan. 1, 2010, through Sept. 13, 2011, of meetings of other commissions’ “work groups,” as referenced by deputy McDonnell counselor Jeff Palmore in a July 5 e-mail in which he wrote, “This model has been utilized by other commissions and found to be successful.”

4. Records of any discussions between McDonnell or members of his staff and other elected officials or members of the Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring taking place between Jan. 1, 2011, and Sept. 13, 2011, regarding the Commission and/or it’s “work groups.”

5. All documents created between Jan. 1, 2010, and Oct. 1, 2011, that are categorized in any of the following state agency general schedules:

a. 012151 (Reimbursement records)

b. 101043 (Fuel receipts)

c. 101054 (Vehicle sign out logs)

d. 101056 (Vehicle assignment records)

And pertain to these individuals on the governor’s staff:

a. Robert McDonnell

b. Martin Kent

c. Eric Finkbeiner

d. Jacob Eige

e. John Martin

f. JeanneMarie Davis

g. Katherine Terry

h. Michael Reynold

i. Jeffrey Palmore

j. Mary Sutherland

k. Stacey Johnson

l. Kristie Craig

m. Melissa Luchau

n. Pamelia Watts

o. Kimberly Steinhoff

p. Kelly Simpson

q. Monica Block

r. Matthew Bruning

s. Andrew Lamar

t. Sarah Scarbrough

u. Todd Schneider

v. Jeff Caldwell

w. Paul Logan

x. Taylor Thornley

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