I now possess the power to eject Eileen Filler-Corn from public office.
Recently House of Delegates Speaker The Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn ordered the removal of the Lee statue and other artifacts from our State Capitol. I sent her a Virginia Freedom of Information request inquiring who she hired to oversee the removal, how much it cost and where those artifacts are stored.
Her response, personally signed by her, was: “The requested documents do not exist:”
On Friday October 9, 2020, Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland ruled that her response was false and imposed a civil penalty of $500 as well as ordering a partial reimbursement of my legal fees incurred by retaining the services of Virginia Beach Attorney Tim Anderson.
I discovered via a FOIA request served on the Department of General Services that B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. of Carlisle, Pennsylvania was hired to carry out the removal to the tune of $80,000. Why Speaker Filler-Corn believes she has the power to order Executive Agencies to expend Virginia taxpayer dollars is anyone’s guess. I received an anonymous tip that Speaker Filler-Corn controls a secret fund estimated at $2,000,000 and that may be where she got the money to pay for this escapade. I was unable to confirm the existence of this secret fund.
So what now? I believe Speaker Filler-Corn violated the Virginia Public Procurement Act which provides that: “Any person convicted of a willful violation of any provision of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, any public employee, in addition to any other fine or penalty provided by law, shall forfeit his [or her] employment.” It is true that the DGS has an existing open source contract with B.R. Howard but I don’t believe this entitles Speaker Filler-Corn to ram through any expenditures of Virginia taxpayer dollars she wishes to impose. The only problem with me asking a Richmond magistrate to swear out an arrest warrant against Speaker Filler-Corn is that I will probably also have to ask for the arrest of House Clerk Suzette Denslow. Suzette was just following orders so I hesitate to do that.
Speaker Filler-Corn still refuses to admit where the artifacts from the State Capitol are stored. I have seen some expressions of disappointment I wasn’t able to do more in this matter. I hope people understand that the Virginia Freedom of Information Act limits me to ask for existing documents and if Speaker Filler-Corn says the documents do not exist and then evades service of a subpoena there is little I can do.
God help any Virginian who has to go through what I did just to get simple answers to simple questions.
Unfortunately, Speaker Filler-Corn is free to use taxpayer money or money from her campaign funds to pay for the civil penalties and attorney’s fees.
I wish to thank Carol J. Bova for providing invaluable assistance in deciphering the documents I examined in this matter.