When the Virginia General Assembly selected Anthony F. Troy as the state's interim attorney general in January, many legislators thought they were seletcing a noncontroversial "caretaker" who would quietly and amicably preside over the state's affairs.
In less than three months on the job, Troy, a soft-spoken, 36-year-old Connecticut native, has proved them wrong.
In rapid fire succession, Troy has taken public stands that have upset many of the state's doctors, newspaper editors and funeral directors and some legislators.
Although he has only nine months in office until an elected successor will take his place, Troy is acting like anything but a temporary replacement in the state's top legal position, which was vacated by Andrew P. Miller, now one of two Democratic candidates for governor.
"I don't see myself as an 'interim' attorney general, one who simply holds to the status quo," Troy said in an interview the other day. "To me I am the attorney general and I have a mandate to carry forth what the people are expecting."
To date, that mandate has put Troy not only in the conventional role of filing lawsuits, but also taking stands that many politicans in the state would just as soon avoid.
"I'm not out here to avoid political controversy," he said. "I'm here to execute the law . . ." The results is that Troy has quickly develped a reputation as a controversial figure in state government and one more than ready to take on some of the state's vested interests.
When Gov. Mills E. Godwin vetoed a bill that would have expanded financial disclosure requirements for state officials, he cited Troy's advice, a step that angered many legislators who said Troy had no business giving God- win policy advice. The storm quickly died down when Troy assured some of the protesting legislators that he didn't personally advise Godwin and that his lawyers only had advised Godwin about possible arguments against the bill.
When President Carter proposed simplified voting registration Troy, a Democrat, was one of the first major figures in the state to attack the plan. "The potential for voter fraud is tremendous," he complained in a Roanoke speech.
When Richmond newspapers continued to report on local judges under scrutiny by a state judicial review commission, Troy publicly attacked the newspapers, claiming that the stories "clearly" appeared to be illegal under a controversial state Supreme Court ruling. The next day a Richmond prospecutor brought charges against the newspapers which are key elements in the state's power structure.
When a Virginia Beach man complained that Tidewater funeral directors were refusing to use his Eternal Rest Vault Bed, Troy's office investigated and filed the first antitrust action in the state under a new state antitrust law. A lawyer for the sued funeral directors said he was amazed that "this yound boy, Tony Troy," would sue them.
When he heard the state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans were refusing to pay psychologists, he angered many doctors in the state by firing off a complaint to the State Corporation Commission, which promised an investigation. The doctors, a Troy aide said, wanted payments only to be made to psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, instead of also to psychologists, who are not.
Such activities have helped keep Troy in the public limelight and have stirred talk that he may be about to embark on a political career of his own in January when he leaves office. Although he voluntarily agreed not to seek re-election to the office this year when he sought the inteim appointment. Troy freely admits that he has political ambitions. It may be the next round of statewide races in 1981 before he seeks office, he said, but he added that he has not ruled out the possibility of taking an administrative position in a Miller administration.
Troy, who once worked in a Washington law firm with Charles W. Colson, the special counsel to President Nixon, said he is not being controversial in his present $37,500-a-year job because he believes his stands will help him later. "Let's face it, the things I'm doing now are going to be forgotten then," he said. "I recognize that."
Whether his record is forgotten, it's clear that Troy has merely continued what some see as the expanded role of attorney general that Miller created in his seven years in the office. Although some legislators said they expected Troy to continue Miller's traditions, others said they are surprised that Troy, who was Miller's top deputy, would be "so aggressive and so public" about his role.
While he openly supports Miller in the state's June 14 Democratic primary, calling him "a brilliant man." Troy has not hesitated to depart from Miller's style. Shortly after the legislature left town. Troy had the state dust off the maroon Chrysler given the attorney general and he began driving it around the state.
Miller suddenly had given up the car, angry over charges that he improperly had driven it to numerous political meetings. Although he has had the car less than two months. Troy noted with pride he has already put 4,000 miles on it.
Most state officials said they expect Troy to continue his controversial role - a style aides said seems almost certain. Only yesterday, his office announced it was suing a large Fredericksburg furniture dealer, charging the firm with "untrue, misleading and deceptive" advertising.
The suit against Carolina Furniture Galleries, Inc. charged the firm, which advertises in the Washington area, with promising delivery of furniture more rapidly than it could arrange. The company furnished the dressing rooms for last year's presidential debate in Williamsburg.