Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney declines to investigate monument removal contract

City crews have removed the Soldiers and Sailors monument located on Libby Hill in Richmond.
City crews have removed the Soldiers and Sailors monument located on Libby Hill in Richmond.(NBC12)
Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 6:24 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin has declined to investigate the actions Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration took to tear down the city’s Confederate monuments.

Richmond City Councilor Kim Gray, who is running against Stoney for mayor this fall, sent a letter to the Richmond City Commonwealth’s Attorney on Aug. 18 asking for an investigation, and if appropriate, any potential criminal charges.

Gray says Stoney didn’t follow the rules over awarding the $1.8 million removal bid.

Stoney says the contract to remove Confederate monuments this summer went to NAH, LLC. That’s a shell corporation set up just before all this went down on July 1. The mayor says the contractor created that to help with any legal issues but also to protect the owner, his business and family from threats.

The city says six major firms in the Richmond-area declined due to risk and the mayor had the power to sidestep some procedures due to the on-going local state of emergency.

Stoney told reporters on Aug. 19 he didn’t know who the contractor was, nor that it was a campaign donor until after.

State campaign finance records show Devon Henry, his company Team Henry Enterprises, as well as his political action committee, donated a combined $4,000 to Stoney’s campaign since 2016. Meanwhile, Stoney’s administration says it does not award contracts based on political donations.

McEachin responded on Aug. 28 saying that her office reviewed Gray’s request.

McEachin wrote to Gray that she found out that Henry donated money to her husband Donald McEachin’s campaign in 2011. And that although the money was donated nine years ago and may not be significant and that her husband is no longer in the position, “it is incumbent upon me to maintain the public trust in this office and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety because of any actions taken by my office.”

McEachin also pointed out a section of Virginia code when it comes to investigating elected officials.

“No investigation of an elected official of...any political subdivision to determine whether a criminal violation has occurred under the provisions of Section 52-8.1 shall be initiated, undertaken or continued except upon the request of the Governor, Attorney General or a grand jury,” the letter said.

McEachin told Gray that is was for both those reasons that she declines the request.

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