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Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney declines to investigate Stoney monument removal contract

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 17:19:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin has declined to investigate the Stoney Administration's removal of the city's Confederate Monuments, citing a potential conflict of interest.

Richmond Councilwoman Kim Gray, who is challenging Stoney in the upcoming election, asked McEachin in August to investigate how Stoney handed out the $1.8 million contract to remove the Confederate statues, saying that he did not follow the rules.

The Stoney administration says that the city reached out to six major firms in the Richmond region offering the contract.

"When no one else would take the job, Devon Henry stood up," Stoney tweeted Tuesday.

The mayor says only NAH LLC/Team Henry expressed willingness to take on the "personal risk" associated with the job.

Henry previously contributed $4,000 to Stoney's campaign since 2016.

"Knowing that a $1.8 million contract went out to a political donor and close ally of the mayor who gave that contract out raises a lot of questions... it doesn’t pass the smell test," said Gray.

Gray also questioned if the mayor adhered to legal procedures detailed in the city's emergency procurement rules in ordering the removal of the statues.

Gray noted that Interim City Attorney Haskell Brown publicly warned the mayor in July that removing the Monuments could put the Mayor and the city at legal risk.

"I formally request that you initiate a full, complete and immediate investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter to determine whether any laws or emergency procurement rules were violated and whether criminal charges are warranted," Gray wrote to McEachin.

Stoney also addressed those who think that the contract was given to Henry because he was a contributor of his past campaign, and said that he did not know who the contractor was nor that they were a previous donor.

"I don't get involved in procurement process. Ever. That's been the practice of this administrative practice of my office from day one and was the practice that was followed through in the right fashion for this particular contract. I didn't know who NAH LLC was until after the selection of the contractor. But as I stated earlier, I see why he would do that. And I support him in doing so," explained the mayor.

When CBS 6 originally filed a FOIA request for information about the removal of the statues, the contract we received showed the shell company, NAH LLC, as the contractor, and did not list any names.

According to the SCC website, NAH LLC was created on June 22, just 10 days before the first statue came down.

"I was not involved in any of the of those talks or that outreach. I was only informed later, after they were able to secure the services of Team Henry about selected the selection of that contractor," said Stoney on Wednesday.

McCeachin wrote that Henry also donated money to her husband Donald McEachin's campaign in 2011, and that she was declining to investigate because of the potential conflict of interest.

Additionally, Virginia code states that investigations of elected officials are not carried out at the request of City council members.

“No investigation of an elected official of...any political subdivision to determine whether a criminal violation has occurred under the provisions of Section 52-8.1 shall be initiated, undertaken or continued except upon the request of the Governor, Attorney General or a grand jury,” the letter said.