A second legislative subcommittee in Virginia was named yesterday that could investigate allegations of conflict of interest against state Sen. Nathan H. Miller, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
State Senate Majority Leader Hunter Andrews (D-Hampton), who appointed the subcommittee in his role as chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee, did not mention Miller by name. He said the new subcommittee should study "any allegations against any member of the Senate."
Last month, after statewide controversy concerning the reports about Miller's actions, the Senate Rules Committee met to name another subcommittee to study whether changes should be made in the state's conflict-of-interest law.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Howard Anderson (D-Halifax) said he hoped the subcommittee "would seek some clarifications of the rules, rather than be punitive." Another subcommittee member, Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr. (R-Alexandria), a friend and campaign aide of Miller, said the new subcommittee may "discipline members if warranted."
The new subcommittee is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans. Its first meeting is set for Nov. 24. Miller "will get a fair hearing out of this subcommittee, if someone comes forward and makes charges," Mitchell said. He said he didn't know what would happen if no one formally complained about Miller's actions.
Earlier this year, without knowing of Miller's interest, subcommittee Chairman Anderson sponsored legislation at Miller's request that gave $13.2 million in business advantages to the state's electrical cooperatives, which were clients of Miller's law firm. The co-ops paid Miller's firm at least $250,000 in fees over the last seven years.
Another member of the new subcomittee, Sen. Daniel W. Bird Jr. (D-Wythe), at Miller's request sponsored legislation designed to help a client of Miller's law firm secure potentially lucrative mineral rights in Augusta County.
Subcommittee members are Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. (D-Fairfax) and William Turban (R-Woodstock).