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Former Gov. Doug Wilder weighs in on Parole Board controversy: 'The people of Virginia deserve a whole bunch of answers'

Posted at 12:00 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 08:55:51-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The day after Gov. Ralph Northam’s office released a statement from Virginia’s top watchdog, declaring Office of the State Inspector General never released a 13-page draft describing wrongdoing by the Virginia Parole Board last year, a former Virginia governor offered his thoughts.

"The parole board is not an autonomous agency: it serves and they all serve at the pleasure of the governor,” former Governor Doug Wilder said Tuesday, weighing in on the embattled parole board. “Quite frankly, I'll say this to you, if I would've known nothing of it and this happened, I wouldn't investigate whether the parole board should be dismissed or gotten rid of, I would do it and then find out how it got to be this way."

Wilder said the whole thing has been a major embarrassment in the Commonwealth.

"And there's no excuse for this,” he continued. “Northam owes the people of Virginia a better explanation than he's given. This is not the operation of the chief executive of Virginia. I've never known nor ever seen anything like this."

Last week, CBS 6 obtained a 13-page document detailing the Office of the State Inspector General's (OSIG) findings in the parole case of convicted cop killer Vincent Martin.

That version of the report, which OSIG called an unreleased draft, is seven pages longer than what was made public last summer -- and is filled with details of what the Inspector General said were violations of state law and the Virginia Constitution.

The draft includes allegations that former Virginia Parole Board Chair Adrianne Bennett asked a hearing officer to falsify a report.

It also alleges that current Chair Tonya Chapman altered the Board's minutes, a Class One misdemeanor.

"No one has taken clear control of the situation that looks like it's spiraling out of hand,” CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said. “You are seeing Republicans using it as political hay both in the Assembly and, I believe, in the upcoming election. Certainly, the Democratic candidates running for office will have to address it. It's going to be a major issue obviously, in the Attorney General's race."

In a statement to questions from CBS 6, the Attorney General's Office said, "This is an issue between the OSIG and Parole Board."

Holsworth and Wilder both disagree with that statement.

"Right now, it's important that the administration take responsibility, ownership, and control and do what they can to rectify the issue rather than let it continue to fester and fester," said Holsworth.

"The people of Virginia deserve a whole bunch of answers and they're not getting anything other than, ‘we are going to investigate this or investigate that,’” said Wilder. “Well, we've seen what that's amounted to and I'm sick and tired of it."