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Virginia Politics
Posted at 06:42 PM ET, 07/13/2012

Ken Cuccinelli criticizes Tim Kaine’s handling of Soering case

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) sure has a lot to say about U.S. Senate hopeful Tim Kaine (D) these days.


Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
For two days in a row, Cuccinelli has criticized Kaine for his handling of the case of convicted murderer and former University of Virginia honors student Jens Soering.

Cuccinelli’s office distributed Friday an affidavit signed by Kaine in 1988 and used by Soering’s lawyers to try to block their client’s extradition to the United States from Germany after the murders.

Cuccinelli said he was shocked to learn Kaine was involved in the case two decades before he became governor and had recommended that Soering serve time in his native Germany.

“He had a relationship in this case,’’ Cuccinelli told reporters Friday. “What I find most shocking is that he was a witness on behalf of a double-murderer.’’

Not true, Kaine’s campaign says.

A Kaine spokeswoman said the affidavit – which doesn’t mention Soering’s name — was written for an unrelated case and later used by Soering’s attorneys.

“Governor Kaine wrote this affidavit as an expert witness in a completely separate case that had nothing to do with Jens Soering,’’ spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said. “Not once does it mention Jens Soering nor does it deal with the specific circumstances of the Soering case.’’

Soering, the son of a German diplomat, was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of two counts of first-degree murder in the 1985 killings of his girlfriend’s parents in a case that made international headlines. He fled the country after the killings and was eventually arrested in England and returned to the United States.

Kaine and Cuccinelli both said they did not know Soering’s team had used the Kaine affidavit until Friday. Cuccinelli, who has endorsed Republican George Allen in the Senate race, came across it while reviewing the case after a court decision Thursday.

“We’ll leave it to the Allen campaign and the attorney general to use state government resources to play politics in the Virginia Senate election,’’ Hoffine said. “Governor Kaine is focused on working together with Virginians to strengthen our economy and create jobs.’

In one of his last acts as governor, Kaine said he would allow Soering to serve time in his native Germany after previously denying the request once before.

But in one of his first reversals of his predecessor’s actions, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder revoking the state’s consent to the transfer, saying he had been deluged by those opposing Kaine’s action. Holder agreed to keep him in Virginia.

A Richmond Circuit Court ruled Thursday that McDonnell acted properly when he reversed his predecessor’s request.

Soering had fought the reversal, questioning whether McDonnell had the authority to reverse course. He asked the court to decide whether McDonnell’s action was within his statutory or constitutional authority.

Republicans have accused Kaine of failing to explain his reasons for requesting the transfer. Kaine has said that Germany, not Virginia, should spend money on Soering’s incarceration.

Cuccinelli predicted the issue would have an impact on the race, particularly in the part of the state where the crimes occurred.

“This is a raw wound,’’ he said. “It’s something they are going to ask him about.’’

By  |  06:42 PM ET, 07/13/2012

 
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