Commonwealth’s Attorney clears Stoney of wrongdoing in Confederate monument removal
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After conducting an investigation, the Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney said he found no evidence of improper benefit to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney as a result of awarding a political donor the contract to remove the city’s Confederate monuments.
Tim Martin said that the investigation did not reveal anything criminal.
In a release, Martin said that Stoney did not suggest using “Team Henry,” the company which was contracted to remove the statues. It was actually another city employee.
Martin said the city reached out to several contractors for the removal, but many declined due to the controversial issues surrounding the removal of the monuments.
“They did inquire of many different firms lots of whom either didn’t call them back or expressed that they didn’t want to take the statues down either because they personally felt that was the wrong call or that they didn’t want their company associated with the risk of the removal,” Martin said. “The City’s diligent pursuit of other contractors does not support an allegation that the Mayor improperly sent this City business to his campaign donor.”
Martin also looked into the contractor’s creation of a separate business entity, which led some to believe this was done to conceal improper transactions. The investigation found that the contractor concealed his identity due to the controversial nature of the work, which is not a crime.
“What we ultimately concluded after a fair amount of inquiry is that it was a desire to conceal his identity such that people wouldn’t associate him with this project because he feared reprisal or even danger to his folks who could’ve been there,” Martin said.
The high price of the contract also attracted attention, with some public saying it could have cost much less for the removal.
“Determining value can be a tricky proposition, one made much more difficult because of the unique circumstances surrounding this particular contract. The utter lack of competition involved here is very likely to have driven up the price. Certainly, the $1.8 million included a substantial profit to the contractor. Taking a profit, even a very substantial one, in a transaction with a government entity is not, however, criminal,” Martin said.
The investigation also looked into whether Stoney followed proper procedure in awarding the contract. Martin said the goal of the investigation was to look into whether or not Stoney used public money to pay off a campaign contributor and receive benefit from it.
“After months of scrutiny and effort by a seasoned, motivated, and experienced State Police investigator, we have uncovered no evidence of public corruption. It is clear that once Richmond gained control over the monuments, especially following last year’s protests, the City was going to remove them. Therefore, the question of removal was a matter of timing. It is my decision that it would be a misuse of resources to seek charges against the Mayor for what was, at worst, a removal that happened some weeks earlier than it otherwise would have,” Martin said.
Stoney’s personal attorney in the case, Jeffrey Breit said that he was pleased with the results of the investigation.
“We were always under the impression the mayor and his administration that the facts when understood and heard by others, would prove the very thing that the prosecutor found. that there was no impropriety,” Breit said.
Martin stressed that public confidence is important to him, therefore he made it known in his release regarding the investigation that he is an elected Republican with no personal relationship with Stoney.
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