Crews Unable to Find 1887 Time Capsule Reportedly Hidden in Lee Monument Pedestal

After removing the huge statue of Lee from its pedestal on Wednesday, crews spent all day Thursday excavating a corner of the pedestal in search of an 1887 time capsule reportedly placed in the monument. But they never found it.

“Disappointing not to find the time capsule,” Governor Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer told reporters Thursday evening.

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General Assembly Back in Session, in Person, to Allocate ARPA Funds

RICHMOND, Virginia – The budget bill to allocate $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds passed out of the House of Delegates Committee on Appropriations on Monday, the first step to passing Governor Ralph Northam’s proposals for the money.

But the first day of the second 2022 special session saw legislative gridlock between the Senate and the House of Delegates. The House passed HJ 7003, which establishes the rules and schedule for how the session will operate. When the legislation was sent to the Senate, Senate Democratic leaders introduced three amendments which received broad bipartisan support.

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Northam Seeks Artifacts for New Time Capsule at the Lee Monument, Asks City of Richmond to Not Remove Monument Avenue Pedestals

It’s thought that there is a time capsule in the pedestal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond. The Virginia Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether or not the state can remove the monument, and in an announcement earlier this week Governor Ralph Northam said they will open the capsule when the monument is removed. He also invited Virginians to suggest new artifacts for a replacement time capsule to be placed at the site.

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Independent Investigators Release Report on Investigation into Virginia Parole Board Investigation

Independent investigators found probable bias in the Office of the State Inspector General’s investigation (OSIG) into the Vincent Martin parole case, according to a report released Monday. The report says that OSIG’s investigation was not thorough enough and says OSIG failed to identify likely bias in its Senior Investigator Jennifer Moschetti. It also says the OSIG investigation and findings were not influenced by Governor Ralph Northam.

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Northam Expects to End Virginia’s Social Distancing Requirements in June

Governor Ralph Northam anticipates ending COVID-19 social distancing and capacity restrictions on June 15. In a Thursday briefing, Northam credited vaccinations with driving COVID-19 case numbers down.

“The data gives us a very clear message. The vaccines are working,” Northam said.

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Republican Senators Say Independent Investigation Firm Is Biased

Republican senators are criticizing the choice of law firm Nixon Peabody to investigate the investigation into the Virginia Parole Board (VPB). An appointment letter published by the Office of the Attorney General states that the firm was chosen in part to avoid any firms with a strong connection to Virginia. But a week after the announcement, Senators Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) and Stephen Newman (R-Bedford) suggested that the Nixon Peabody team is politically biased.

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General Assembly Republicans Call for Special Session to Investigate Virginia Parole Board

General Assembly Republicans renewed calls for a special session to investigate the Virginia Parole Board (VPB) after media obtained recordings of a call held last summer between Northam administration officials and State Inspector General Michael Westfall.

House of Delegates Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said in a Monday press release, “The recording of the meeting between the Office of State Inspector General and Governor  [Ralph] Northam’s team explains why the Governor’s budget amendment only called for an investigation of OSIG, and not the Parole Board. The Governor’s office doesn’t think the Parole Board did anything wrong.”

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Virginia Parole Board Investigator Jennifer Moschetti Fired

The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) fired senior investigator Jennifer Moschetti on Monday. Moschetti had investigated and helped write a report detailing violations committed by the Virginia Parole Board. Moschetti had sought formal recognition as a whistleblower from the General Assembly, but when she was placed on leave from her OSIG job, she sued to keep herself from being fired.

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Virginia Parole Board Blocked Automatic Victim Notifications

The Virginia Parole Board paroled Hugh Brown last March after first telling his murder victim’s family that his request for parole had been denied, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The newspaper obtained emails showing that then-Chair Adrianne Bennett had specifically asked that automated emails to the victim’s family be blocked as the board reconsidered the decision to parole Brown.

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Virginia Parole Board Whistleblower Sues over Alleged Retaliation; Northam Stands by Parole Board

An Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) employee who helped investigate the Virginia Parole Board (VPB) is suing Inspector General Michael Westfall. Jennifer Moschetti’s lawsuit, filed on Monday, states that she was placed on pre-disciplinary leave on March 5, days after she approached the General Assembly as an anonymous whistleblower. On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said the lawsuit was motivated by politics and criticized the OSIG report.

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