RICHMOND (WWBT) - He is the author of a law that many local governments have ignored and may now be forced to pay back millions in overtime.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has no regrets about writing the law that requires municipalities to pay overtime to police officers at an earlier rate than what the federal government requires.
He also is not surprised that some local leaders have chosen to ignore the law.
"The biggest lawbreaker in America is government," said Cuccinelli.
That's right, Virginia's Attorney General doesn't believe there is a misunderstanding, or a question about the law, he believes places like Richmond and Henrico knew their police officers were entitled to overtime pay at a certain rate and chose to ignore the law.
"There is a state law in place and there is a backstop of accountability," said Cuccinelli. "But that local government is going to be driven up to the backstop and the way that happens is in court."
That is why Cuccinelli supports police officers fighting for their back pay. He believes prior to the law, Virginia had a patchwork of standards that allowed police officers to be taken advantage of.
"We've set policy for employees in Virginia and the policy is frankly is not much different than saying everybody is going to be treated equally," Cuccinelli said.
The idea of the state government looking down and instituting what amounts to an unfunded mandate is not generally Cuccinelli's style.
"It is not normally my habit to be dictating to lower levels of government how they will do their business," he said.
But from his view as a State Senator police officers were in a unique situation. A situation that required action.
"No other employee was being abused in the way police officers were," he pointed out. "None, including firefighters."
And that is why he is hoping the officers win their win their case in court and if they don't he will support efforts to clarify the law in the general assembly.
In court papers the City of Richmond claims they have done nothing wrong. Henrico is in the process of negotiating with their police officers and attorneys.
We have posted extended clips from Attorney General Cuccinelli on DecisionVirginia.com.