In the late evening and early morning hours between Thursday July 23, 2020 and Friday July 24, 2020, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) unilaterally ordered the removal of a life-size statue of General Robert E. Lee and busts of seven other Confederate officials of note from the Virginia Capitol. House Clerk Suzette Denslow had informed Governor Ralph Northam of the pending actions Thursday July 23, 2020 in a hand-delivered letter. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/confederate-memorials-quietly-removed-from-virginia-capitol-overnight/2020/07/24/8d2a0dee-cced-11ea-bc6a-6841b28d9093_story.html
According to the Washington Post, Speaker Filler-Corn “had clued in only a handful of colleagues in Democratic leadership and worked with Denslow to arrange logistics.” To my knowledge the letter to Northam has not been made public nor has Speaker Filler-Corn elucidated what gives her the authority to engage in wholesale removal of House statues and busts other than a vague statement that “her role as speaker gives her authority over decorations and furnishings in the House-controlled parts of the Capitol.” This simply can’t be true. Does Speaker Filler-Corn actually believe she has the right to order, at taxpayer expense, the removal of every decoration and furnishing in the House-controlled parts of the Capitol based solely upon her personal whim? In another act of hubris, that I regard as astonishing, the Post reports that Filler-Corn “hired a Pennsylvania company to handle the move but would not disclose the name of the company, the cost of the work or where the sculptures were being taken for storage.”
As an aside, I simply can’t believe that members of the media agreed with Filler-Corn’s gag order that they could attend the removal but would not be allowed to report on it until the removal was complete. What kind of self-respecting journalist would agree to such a prior restraint on free speech.?
I also don’t appreciate Filler-Corn placing House Clerk Suzette Denslow in the difficult position of having to obey Filler-Corns commands or, presumably, suffer some adverse consequences for failing to do so. The House Clerk is not Filler-Corn’s personal servant. Also, the Capitol Police are not her private employees who she can order to provide security for the removal of any decorations or furnishings which she personally disfavors and thinks ought to go.
Speaker Filler-Corn’s belief she has the right to gut the Capitol is unacceptable and I can only hope she is reigned in somehow.